Mrs. Robinson

"Mrs. Robinson" is a song by American music duo Simon & Garfunkel from their fourth studio album, Bookends (1968). The song was released as a single on April 5, 1968 by Columbia Records. Produced by the duo and Roy Halee, it is famous for its association with the 1967 film The Graduate. The song was written by Paul Simon, who pitched it to director Mike Nichols alongside Art Garfunkel after Nichols rejected two other songs intended for the film. Although The Graduate (soundtrack) album features two versions of "Mrs. Robinson", neither is the full version as featured on Bookends. It was additionally released on the "Mrs. Robinson 'EP'" in 1968 containing three other songs from the film: April Come She Will, Scarborough Fair/Canticle, and The Sound of Silence.

"Mrs. Robinson"
Mrs Robinson by Simon and Garfunkel US vinyl (The Graduate credit).png
One of side-A labels of the US vinyl single crediting The Graduate as the source of the song. Another pressing credits the song's parent album Bookends as the source.
Single by Simon & Garfunkel
from the album Bookends and The Graduate
B-side"Old Friends/Bookends"
ReleasedApril 5, 1968 (1968-04-05)
RecordedFebruary 2, 1968
GenreFolk rock
Songwriter(s)Paul Simon
Simon & Garfunkel singles chronology
"Scarborough Fair/Canticle"
"Mrs. Robinson"
"The Boxer"
Music video
"Mrs. Robinson" (audio) on YouTube
Alternative release
Artwork for the Dutch vinyl single; its similar variant mentions The Graduate above the song title
Artwork for the Dutch vinyl single; its similar variant mentions The Graduate above the song title

"Mrs. Robinson" became the duo's second chart-topper, hitting number one on the Billboard Hot 100, as well as peaking within the top 10 of the United Kingdom, Ireland, and Spain, among other countries. In 1969, it became the first rock song to win the Grammy Award for Record of the Year. The song contains a famous reference to baseball star Joe DiMaggio. The song has been covered by a number of artists, including Frank Sinatra, the Lemonheads, and Bon Jovi. In 2004, it finished at No. 6 on AFI's 100 Years...100 Songs survey of top tunes in American cinema.


Simon & Garfunkel reached national fame in the United States in 1965–66, touring colleges and releasing a string of hit singles and albums. Meanwhile, director Mike Nichols, then filming The Graduate, became fascinated with the duo's past two efforts, listening to them nonstop before and after filming.[1][2] After two weeks of this obsession, he met with Columbia Records chairman Clive Davis to ask for permission to license Simon & Garfunkel music for his film. Davis viewed it as a perfect fit and envisioned a best-selling soundtrack album.[3] Simon was not as immediately receptive, viewing movies as akin to "selling out", but he agreed to write at least one or two new songs for the film after being impressed by Nichols' wit and the script.[3] Leonard Hirshan, a powerful agent at William Morris, negotiated a deal that paid Simon $25,000 to submit three songs to Nichols and producer Lawrence Turman.[4]

Several weeks later, Simon re-emerged with two new tracks, "Punky's Dilemma" and "Overs", neither of which Nichols was particularly taken with.[4] Nichols asked if the duo had any more songs to offer, and after a break from the meeting, they returned with an early version of "Mrs. Robinson". They had been working on a track titled "Mrs. Roosevelt", and returned to perform it for Nichols. He was ecstatic about the song, later commenting, "They filled in with dee de dee dee de dee dee dee because there was no verse yet, but I liked even that."[4] Garfunkel later expanded upon the song's placement in The Graduate:

Paul had been working on what is now 'Mrs. Robinson', but there was no name in it and we’d just fill in with any three-syllable name. And because of the character in the picture we just began using the name 'Mrs. Robinson' to fit […] and one day we were sitting around with Mike talking about ideas for another song. And I said ‘What about Mrs. Robinson.' Mike shot to his feet. 'You have a song called "Mrs. Robinson" and you haven’t even shown it to me?' So we explained the working title and sang it for him. And then Mike froze it for the picture as 'Mrs. Robinson'.[5]

The film version employs a Bo Diddley Beat, unlike the studio version.[citation needed] The final version of "Mrs. Robinson" was completed on February 2, 1968, at Columbia Studio A in New York City.[6] The recording was released more than three months after the release of The Graduate, but through its numerous radio plays became an important cross-promotion of the film during its initial run in theaters. A louder and punchier bass drum is present on the promo mix, which was done to accommodate for the limited dynamic range produced by AM radio.[7]


Simon's inclusion of the phrase "coo-coo-ca-choo" is a homage to a lyric in the Beatles' "I Am the Walrus".[8]

References in the last verse to Joe DiMaggio are perhaps the most discussed. Simon, a fan of Mickey Mantle, was asked during an intermission on The Dick Cavett Show why Mantle was not mentioned in the song instead of DiMaggio. Simon replied, "It's about syllables, Dick. It's about how many beats there are."[9] Simon happened to meet DiMaggio at a New York City restaurant in the 1970s, and the two immediately discussed the song. DiMaggio said "What I don't understand, is why you ask where I've gone. I just did a Mr. Coffee commercial, I'm a spokesman for the Bowery Savings Bank and I haven't gone anywhere!" Simon replied "that I didn't mean the lines literally, that I thought of him as an American hero and that genuine heroes were in short supply. He accepted the explanation and thanked me. We shook hands and said good night".[10] In a New York Times op-ed in March 1999, shortly after DiMaggio's death, Simon discussed this meeting and explained that the line was meant as a sincere tribute to DiMaggio's unpretentious and modest 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".[10] Simon subsequently performed "Mrs. Robinson" at Yankee Stadium in DiMaggio's honor shortly after his death in 1999.[11]

Awards and nominationsEdit

"Mrs. Robinson" was awarded two Grammy Awards at the 11th Annual Grammy Awards in 1969. It became the first rock song to win Record of the Year (although the previous year's "Up Up and Away" by the 5th Dimension could also be considered a contender) and it also was awarded the Grammy for Best Contemporary-Pop Performance – Vocal Duo or Group.[8] The duo were asked to perform the song live at the ceremony, but they declined. Instead, they shot a video for the show set to the music that consisted of them "romping around Yankee Stadium," a reference to the song's lyrics concerning DiMaggio.[8] "Mrs. Robinson" was ineligible for the Academy Award for Best Original Song, as a nominee must have been written exclusively for the film in which it appeared.[8]




Region Certification Certified units/sales
Italy (FIMI)[30] Gold 25,000 
United Kingdom (BPI)[31] Gold 400,000 
United States (RIAA)[32] Gold 1,000,000^

^shipments figures based on certification alone
 sales+streaming figures based on certification alone

In popular cultureEdit

Writer/actor/director Albert Brooks licensed Paul Simon’s music from “Mrs. Robinson” for his 1996 film Mother. Brooks and Monica Johnson wrote special lyrics for the song, which was recorded as “Mrs. Henderson,” and referenced Brooks’ character’s mother. Voice actors Steve Lively and Jess Harnell provided sound-alike vocals, impersonating Simon & Garfunkel on the track, which was produced by Marc Shaiman, who also composed and produced the film's score.[33]

The film Rumor Has It… centers 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.[34]

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.[35]

Cover versionsEdit

Frank Sinatra versionEdit

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".[36]

The Lemonheads versionEdit

"Mrs. Robinson"
Single by The Lemonheads
from the album It's a Shame About Ray
B-side"Being Around"
Producer(s)Julian Standen
The Lemonheads singles chronology
"It's a Shame About Ray"
"Mrs. Robinson"
"My Drug Buddy"

The Lemonheads recorded a punk-inflected cover version of this song in 1992 that made it to No. 18 on the US Billboard Bubbling Under Hot 100, No. 8 on Billboard's Modern Rock Tracks chart, and the top 20 in Australia and New Zealand. In Ireland and the United Kingdom—where the song also reached the top 20—"Mrs. Robinson" was released as a double A-side with "Being Around". 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.[37]

The band's frontman, Evan Dando, later told American Songwriter that he "hated" the song as well as its author and that its recording was only to promote a 25th anniversary home video release of The Graduate. He noted that Simon greatly disliked the cover, but Garfunkel was more favorable toward it.[38] This version was featured in The Wolf of Wall Street.[39] It also received coverage in gay-related publications because of the anti-gay principles of Peter Robinson.[40]


Chart (1992–1993) Peak
Australia (ARIA)[41] 16
Australian Top 20 Alternative Singles (ARIA)[42] 1
Europe (Eurochart Hot 100)[43] 67
Ireland (IRMA)[44]
Double A-side with "Being Around"
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[45] 9
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[46]
Double A-side with "Being Around"
US Alternative Airplay (Billboard)[47] 8
US Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles (Billboard)[48] 18


  1. ^ Eliot 2007, p. 88.
  2. ^ Bart, Peter (May 15, 2005). "The perfect pic alignment". Variety.
  3. ^ a b Eliot 2007, p. 89.
  4. ^ a b c Eliot 2007, p. 90.
  5. ^ Eliot 2007, p. 91.
  6. ^ Fornatale 2007, p. 80.
  7. ^ Everett, Walter (May 2010). "'If you're gonna have a hit': Intratextual mixes and edits of pop recordings". Popular Music. 29 (2): 235. JSTOR 40926920.
  8. ^ a b c d Eliot 2007, p. 96.
  9. ^ Kriegel, Mark (November 27, 1998). "The Paul Simon Anthology – Article". NY Daily News. Retrieved February 12, 2016.
  10. ^ a b "The Silent Superstar". The New York Times.
  11. ^ Boudreau, Josh (May 15, 2005). "Marilyn Monroe's life story". Variety.
  12. ^ "Mrs Robinson". Songfacts. Retrieved February 18, 2011.
  13. ^ a b "Bookends". Art Garfunkel Official Site.
  14. ^ "Australian Weekly (David Kent) Single Charts for 1968". Retrieved 1 April 2018.
  15. ^ " – Simon & Garfunkel – Mrs. Robinson" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50. Retrieved 1 April 2018.
  16. ^ "Top RPM Singles: Issue 5768." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved July 12, 2017.
  17. ^ " – Simon & Garfunkel – Mrs. Robinson". GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved 1 April 2018.
  18. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – week 27, 1968" (in Dutch). Dutch Top 40 Retrieved 1 April 2018.
  19. ^ " – Simon & Garfunkel – Mrs. Robinson" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved November 6, 2014.
  20. ^ "search listener". Flavour of NZ. Retrieved 29 March 2018.
  21. ^ " – Simon & Garfunkel – Mrs. Robinson". VG-lista. Retrieved November 6, 2014.
  22. ^ " – Simon & Garfunkel – Mrs. Robinson". Swiss Singles Chart. Retrieved November 6, 2014.
  23. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved November 6, 2014.
  24. ^ "Simon & Garfunkel Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved November 6, 2014.
  25. ^ Whitburn, Joel (1993). Top Adult Contemporary: 1961–1993. Record Research. p. 219.
  26. ^ "Cash Box Top 100 6/08/68". Tropical glen. Archived from the original on 12 August 2014. Retrieved 29 March 2018.
  27. ^ The 100 Best-Selling Singles of 1968, Sixties city.
  28. ^ "Top 100 Hits of 1968/Top 100 Songs of 1968". Music outfitters. Retrieved 29 March 2018.
  29. ^ "Cash Box YE Pop Singles - 1968". Tropical glen. Archived from the original on 9 October 2016. Retrieved 29 March 2018.
  30. ^ "Italian single certifications – Simon & Garfunkel – Mrs. Robinson" (in Italian). Federazione Industria Musicale Italiana. Retrieved January 23, 2019. Select "2019" in the "Anno" drop-down menu. Select "Mrs. Robinson" in the "Filtra" field. Select "Singoli online" under "Sezione".
  31. ^ "British single certifications – Simon & Garfunkel – Mrs Robinson". British Phonographic Industry. Select singles in the Format field. Select Gold in the Certification field. Type Mrs Robinson in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.
  32. ^ "American single certifications – Simon & Garfunkel – Mrs. Robinson". Recording Industry Association of America. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Single, then click SEARCH. 
  33. ^ "Mother (1996)". Retrieved 29 March 2018 – via
  34. ^ Roger Ebert. "Rumor Has It". Chicago Sun-Times, December 23, 2005.
  35. ^ Hough, Andrew (January 13, 2010). "Iris Robinson: Facebook campaign to get 'Mrs Robinson' song to no 1 on pop charts". The Daily Telegraph. London.
  36. ^ Charlesworth, Chris (1997). The complete guide to the music of Paul Simon and Simon & Garfunkel. Omnibus Press. p. 42. ISBN 9780711955974.
  37. ^ Blackwell, Mark. "Just Like Evan". SPIN. SPIN Media LLC (April 1993).
  38. ^ Evan Schlansky (July 1, 2009). "Evan Dando Of The Lemonheads: On Record". American Songwriter. Retrieved February 22, 2015.
  39. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on January 15, 2010. Retrieved March 12, 2010.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  40. ^ Geen, Jessica. "Campaign to make Mrs Robinson number one". Pink News. Retrieved February 18, 2011.
  41. ^ " – The Lemonheads – Mrs. Robinson". ARIA Top 50 Singles. Retrieved April 1, 2018.
  42. ^ "ARIA Top 20 Alternative Singles – Week Ending: 21st March, 1993 (from The ARIA Report Issue No. 163}". ARIA, via Retrieved November 23, 2019.
  43. ^ "Eurochart Hot 100 Singles" (PDF). Music & Media. Vol. 10 no. 3. January 16, 1993. p. 15. Retrieved May 26, 2020.
  44. ^ "The Irish Charts – Search Results – Mrs. Robinson". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved April 1, 2018.
  45. ^ " – The Lemonheads – Mrs. Robinson". Top 40 Singles. Retrieved April 1, 2018.
  46. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved April 1, 2018.
  47. ^ "The Lemonheads Chart History (Alternative Airplay)". Billboard. Retrieved April 1, 2018.
  48. ^ "The Lemonheads Chart History (Bubbling Under Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved April 1, 2018.


External linksEdit