Mrs. Robinson

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"Mrs. Robinson"
Single by Simon & Garfunkel
from the album The Graduate & Bookends
Released April 1968
Format 7" single
Recorded February 2, 1968
Columbia Studio A
(Los Angeles)(1967)
Writer(s) Paul Simon
Simon & Garfunkel singles chronology
"Mrs. Robinson"
(1968)
"The Boxer"
(1969)
Music sample

"Mrs. Robinson" is a song written by Paul Simon and first performed by Simon & Garfunkel. When released as a single in 1968, it hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the US, for their second chart-topping hit after "The Sound of Silence". An early version of the song appeared in the motion picture The Graduate (1967) and its subsequent soundtrack, while the complete song debuted on their album Bookends (1968).[1] The song earned the duo a Grammy Award for Record of the Year in 1969.

Context[edit]

In the film The Graduate, listless recent college graduate Benjamin Braddock has an affair with an older married woman, Mrs. Robinson. The song as it appears in the film is different from the familiar hit single version, as only the chorus of the song appears late in the film and with slightly different lyrics: "Stand up tall, Mrs. Robinson, God in heaven smiles on those who pray." It was only later on that Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel re-recorded the song by employing additional lyrics to form the hit single.

Director Mike Nichols had become obsessed with Simon & Garfunkel's music while shooting the film.[2] Larry Turman, his producer, made a deal for Simon to write three new songs for the movie. By the time they were nearly finished editing the film, Simon had only written one new song. Nichols begged him for more but Simon, who was touring constantly, told him he didn't have the time. He did play him a few notes of a new song he had been working on; "It's not for the movie ... it's a song about times past – about Mrs. Roosevelt and Joe DiMaggio and stuff." Nichols advised Simon, "It's now about Mrs. Robinson, not Mrs. Roosevelt." During an appearance on Dick Cavett's television show, Simon told the story of how the song was originally called "Mrs. Roosevelt", to which Cavett quipped: "That would have changed the plot of the movie."

Later references in film and Internet culture[edit]

The film Rumor Has It… is based on the assumption that The Graduate is based on real events which become uncovered. The song "Mrs. Robinson" is featured in this film as well.

In early January 2010, after news of Iris Robinson (wife of Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson) having an extramarital affair with the (40 years younger) adult child of a family friend became public, a group was set up on Facebook attempting to get the song "Mrs. Robinson" to No.1 in the Official UK Singles Chart for that week via download sales. It received coverage in The Telegraph and other British media.[3][4] It also received coverage in gay-related publications because of the anti-gay stand of Peter Robinson.[5]

Joe DiMaggio[edit]

References in the last verse to Joe DiMaggio are perhaps the most discussed. Paul Simon, a fan of Mickey Mantle, was asked during an intermission on The Dick Cavett Show why Mantle wasn't mentioned in the song instead of DiMaggio. Simon replied, "It's about syllables, Dick. It's about how many beats there are."[6] For himself, DiMaggio initially complained that he had not gone anywhere, but soon dropped his complaints after a cordial meeting with Paul Simon when he explained what the lines meant. In a New York Times op-ed in March 1999,[7] shortly after DiMaggio's death, Simon discussed this meeting and explained that the line was meant as a sincere tribute to DiMaggio's unpretentious heroic stature, in a time when popular culture magnifies and distorts how we perceive our heroes. He further reflected: "In these days of Presidential transgressions and apologies and prime-time interviews about private sexual matters, we grieve for Joe DiMaggio and mourn the loss of his grace and dignity, his fierce sense of privacy, his fidelity to the memory of his wife and the power of his silence." Simon subsequently performed "Mrs. Robinson" at Yankee Stadium in DiMaggio's honor the month after his death.[8]

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (1968) Peak
position
Dutch Singles Chart[9] 5
Irish Singles Chart[10] 5
Norwegian Singles Chart[9] 8
Spanish Singles Chart[11] 7
Swiss Singles Chart[9] 6
US Billboard Hot 100 1
UK Singles Chart[12] 4

Cover versions[edit]

Sinatra's changing the lyrics
  • One of the earliest well-known cover versions of this song was by Frank Sinatra for his 1969 album My Way. This version changes a number of lines, including replacing "Jesus" with "Jilly" and including a new verse directly referring to Mrs. Robinson's activities in The Graduate. Writing in The complete guide to the music of Paul Simon and Simon & Garfunkel, Chris Charlesworth writes that Sinatra's word-change was "senseless", motivated by the refusal of some radio stations to play the song because of the word "Jesus".[13]
New songs about the character Mrs. Robinson
  • The folk punk band Andrew Jackson Jihad based their song "People II: The Reckoning" on the song. Its final verse repeats the line "Here's to you, Mrs. Robinson" but asserts that no one cares rather than the original sentiment that Jesus loves her.[14]
  • Dutch band The Nits wrote a continuation of the romance between Mrs. Robinson and Benjamin, with new lyrics and music. Simon considered refusing to let the band re-use a few lines of his song, forcing them to delay release of the CD to record a version that used none of Simon's lyrics.[15] The song, "Robinson", appeared on their 1998 album Alankomaat and was released as a single in the Netherlands. The live version contains lyric snippets from many other Simon and Garfunkel songs including opening with the line from "Sounds of Silence": "Hello darkness, my old friend."[16]
  • George Watsky & Kush Mody based their song on a love of "older women" with Mrs. Robinson being the focus of the song.[17]
Covers in different musical styles
  • The James Taylor Quartet released an instrumental version in a jazz funk style on their premiere album Mission Impossible, which consisted largely of covers of '60s film music.[14]
  • American soul singer Billy Paul did a rhythm and blues version in the 1970s.[14]
  • American glam metal band Kik Tracee has a cover version on their 1991 album No Rules.[18]
  • The Coolies' first album, dig..?, released in 1986 by DB Records, consisted of nine covers of Simon & Garfunkel classics, including an instrumental version of "Mrs. Robinson".
  • The Lemonheads recorded a punk-inflected cover version of this song that made #19 in December 1992. Although not originally included on The Lemonheads' album It's A Shame About Ray, the album was re-released with the cover of "Mrs. Robinson" included after the single's chart success.[19]
  • Stadium rockers Bon Jovi recorded the song on one of their live performances. The song was included on the limited edition bonus disc of their 1995 These Days album.[14]
  • Booker T & The MG's recorded an instrumental version in 1969 which first appeared on their album The Booker T. Set.
  • Garth Brooks for the 2013 "The Melting Pot" album in the "Blame It All on My Roots: Five Decades of Influences" compilation.
  • Pomplamoose, a popular band with a following primarily through YouTube, released a version recorded in 2009.
Foreign language covers
  • In 1968 Francesco Guccini translated "Mrs. Robinson" into Italian; it was first covered in this version by the Italian beat group Royals and later was recorded by Bobby Solo on his LP Bobby Folk in 1970.[20]
  • In 1999 the Finnish band Eläkeläiset released a song "Herra Kekkonen" (Mr. Kekkonen, in reference to former president of Finland Urho Kekkonen) on their EP Humppaorgiat.[21][better source needed] While the melody is identical to Paul Simon's song, the lyrics are entirely new and different and are not a translation of the original lyrics.

Personnel[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Bennighof, James. The Words and Music of Paul Simon. Westport, Ct.: Greenwood Publishing Group, 2007. ISBN 0-275-99163-6, ISBN 978-0-275-99163-0. P. 33.
  2. ^ Bart, Peter (May 15, 2005). "The perfect pic alignment". Variety. 
  3. ^ Hough, Andrew (January 13, 2010). "Iris Robinson: Facebook campaign to get 'Mrs Robinson' song to no 1 on pop charts". The Daily Telegraph (London). 
  4. ^ http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/local-national/facebook-campaign-aims-to-make-mrs-robinson-number-one-14631992.html[dead link]
  5. ^ Geen, Jessica. "Campaign to make Mrs Robinson number one". Pink News. Retrieved February 18, 2011. 
  6. ^ "The Paul Simon Anthology – Article". Home.c2i.net. November 27, 1998. Retrieved February 18, 2011. 
  7. ^ "The Silent Superstar". The New York Times. 
  8. ^ Boudreau, Josh (May 15, 2005). "Marilyn Monroe's life story". Variety. 
  9. ^ a b c Steffen Hung. "Simon & Garfunkel – "Mrs. Robinson"". swisscharts.com. Retrieved 2012-04-25. 
  10. ^ Steffen Hung. "The Irish Charts". Retrieved 2012-04-25. 
  11. ^ Salaverri, Fernando (September 2005). Sólo éxitos: año a año, 1959–2002 (1st ed.). Spain: Fundación Autor-SGAE. ISBN 84-8048-639-2. 
  12. ^ "ChartArchive - Simon And Garfunkel". Chartstats.com. Archived from the original on 2012-07-21. Retrieved 2012-04-25. 
  13. ^ Charlesworth, Chris (1997). The complete guide to the music of Paul Simon and Simon & Garfunkel. Omnibus Press. p. 136. ISBN 9780711955974. 
  14. ^ a b c d Eliot, Marc (2010). Paul Simon: A Life. John Wiley and Sons: Omnibus Press. p. 336. ISBN 9780470433638. 
  15. ^ "Nits in the Papers". Nitsfans.org. Retrieved February 18, 2011. 
  16. ^ "Lyrics for Alankomaat". Nitsfans.org. Retrieved 2013-09-22. 
  17. ^ "Mrs. Robinson ft. Danny McClain". Gwatsky.bandcamp.com. 2012-02-01. Retrieved 2012-04-25. 
  18. ^ The Guinness Encyclopedia of Popular Music: Farian, Frank to Mezza, Don. 1992. p. 3295. 
  19. ^ Blackwell, Mark. "Just Like Evan". SPIN (SPIN Media LLC) (April 1993). 
  20. ^ Rizzi, Cesare; Fulvio Beretta (1993). Enciclopedia del rock italiano. Arcana, 1993. p. 640. 
  21. ^ Official site http://www.humppa.com/en/releases/ lists only the name and year of the EP, the complete list of cover may be found at http://www.humppa.ru/covers.html
  22. ^ "Mrs Robinson Songfacts". Songfacts.com. Retrieved February 18, 2011. 
  23. ^ "Credit finally comes for the master session musicians of the Wrecking Crew". Retrieved June 1, 2013. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
"Tighten Up" by Archie Bell & the Drells
Billboard Hot 100 number-one single
June 1, 1968 – June 15, 1968
Succeeded by
"This Guy's in Love with You" by Herb Alpert