NEW YORK – The iconic ballad “Bridge Over Troubled Water” was so stirring that even a young Paul Simon knew he was onto something special when he composed it 40 years ago.

“I thought, ‘Hmm. That’s better than I usually write,’” Simon recalled. “I was completely surprised that I wrote it — it was completely unlike anything I had ever done before.”

Simon’s magical moment was honored by the Songwriters Hall of Fame in a ceremony on Thursday that featured Billy Joel, John Mayer, Judy Collins and more while honoring legends including Leonard Cohen as well as wunderkind Taylor Swift.

Swift was not among the inductees into the Songwriters Hall. But the 20-year-old Grammy winner was given the Hal David Starlight Award, which pays tribute to young songwriters with promise.

Mayer, a Swift friend and collaborator, presented her with her award, saying “she’s no accident.”

“You could put her in a time machine in any era and she would have a hit record,” he said.

Along with Cohen, the inductees included Jackie DeShannon, reggae great Bob Marley, the late Laura Nyro, Johnny Mandel and the principal members of the legendary band Earth, Wind & Fire.

“Bridge Over Troubled Water” was given the Towering Song Award.

Rap mogul, singer square off

NEW YORK — Battle-scarred rap mogul Marion “Suge” Knight and volatile hip-hop star Kanye West faced off Friday over a beef involving a bullet, with a conference table between them.

The two rap titans were there for West to answer questions about a celebrity-packed Miami Beach party where an unknown gunman shot Knight in the leg. West hosted the 2005 fete at the posh Shore Club before the MTV Video Music Awards, held that year in Miami.

Knight, who promoted some of rap’s biggest acts in the 1990s but has been beset by legal and financial troubles, has sued the Grammy Award-winning West and the club’s owners, saying they didn’t provide enough security.

Knight said Friday he had hoped a face-to-face encounter with West and their lawyers could settle the matter, but he got few answers.

“I figured I could sit him down, man to man, and get this resolved,” Knight said after the six-hour, closed-door session at a Fifth Avenue office. “I’m disappointed.”

West said he wasn’t involved in the security arrangements for the party, said Knight’s lawyer, Marc Brumer.

Kilmer ruffles feathers in N.M.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — No words were minced when the character Ed Bailey jumped out of his seat in one of the early scenes of

“Tombstone” and told the gambler and gunslinger Doc Holliday – played by actor Val Kilmer – to scram after their poker game went sour.

“Take your money and get out ’cause I’m tired of listening to your mouth,” Bailey yelled.

Well, some of Kilmer’s real-life New Mexico neighbors share Bailey’s sentiments. They’re upset with him, saying he made disparaging comments about San Miguel County and for chasing away people fishing on the Pecos River at his ranch.

The bitter feelings that have been brewing over the last several years have reached a boiling point. Kilmer has been asked to appear before county commissioners to explain himself during a meeting next Wednesday.

Calls and e-mails to Kilmer and his publicist have not been returned, but commission chairman David Salazar said the actor has indicated he will show up.