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. The Graduate's soundtrack album uses two short versions of "Mrs. Robinson"; a full version was later included on Bookends. The song was additionally released on the Mrs. Robinson EP in 1968, which also included 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
ReleasedApril 5, 1968 (1968-04-05)
RecordedFebruary 2, 1968
GenreFolk rock
Length4:02
LabelColumbia
Songwriter(s)Paul Simon
Producer(s)
Simon & Garfunkel singles chronology
"Scarborough Fair/Canticle"
(1967)
"Mrs. Robinson"
(1968)
"The Boxer"
(1969)
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 No. 1 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.

BackgroundEdit

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 two of the duo's songs, 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]

CompositionEdit

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 a song exclusively for the film in which it appeared.[8]

PersonnelEdit

ChartsEdit

CertificationsEdit

Region Certification Certified units/sales
Italy (FIMI)[30] Gold 25,000 
United Kingdom (BPI)[31] Platinum 600,000 
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]

In the seventh part of the JoJo's Bizarre Adventure manga series, which is known for its various music and pop culture references, there is a minor antagonist named Mrs. Robinson, named after the song.

This song is heard in the 1999 film American Pie (ironically, a cover by The Lemonheads appears in its sequel).

Cover versionsEdit

Frank Sinatra versionEdit

"Mrs. Robinson"
Single by Frank Sinatra
from the album My Way
Released1969
Length2:56
LabelReprise
Songwriter(s)Paul Simon
Composer(s)Don Costa
Frank Sinatra singles chronology
"If You Go Away"
(1969)
"Mrs. Robinson"
(1969)

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"
ReleasedNovember 23, 1992 (1992-11-23)[37]
GenrePop punk[38]
Length3:43
LabelAtlantic
Songwriter(s)Paul Simon
Producer(s)Julian Standen
The Lemonheads singles chronology
"It's a Shame About Ray"
(1992)
"Mrs. Robinson"
(1992)
"My Drug Buddy"
(1993)

American alternative rock band 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.[39]

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.[40] It also received coverage in gay-related publications because of the anti-gay principles of Peter Robinson.[41]

ChartsEdit

Chart (1992–1993) Peak
position
Australia (ARIA)[42] 16
Australian Alternative (ARIA)[43] 1
Europe (Eurochart Hot 100)[44] 67
Ireland (IRMA)[45]
with "Being Around"
7
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[46] 9
UK Singles (OCC)[47]
with "Being Around"
19
US Alternative Airplay (Billboard)[48] 8
US Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles (Billboard)[49] 18

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Eliot 2010, p. 88.
  2. ^ Bart, Peter (May 15, 2005). "The perfect pic alignment". Variety.
  3. ^ a b Eliot 2010, p. 89.
  4. ^ a b c Eliot 2010, p. 90.
  5. ^ Eliot 2010, 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. doi:10.1017/S026114301000005X. JSTOR 40926920.
  8. ^ a b c d Eliot 2010, p. 96.
  9. ^ Kriegel, Mark (November 27, 1998). "The Paul Simon Anthology – Article". NY Daily News. Retrieved February 12, 2016.
  10. ^ a b Simon, Paul (March 9, 1999). "The Silent Superstar". The New York Times. Retrieved November 25, 2020.
  11. ^ Boudreau, Josh (May 15, 2005). "Marilyn Monroe's life story". Variety.
  12. ^ "Hal Blaine: Every No. 1 Hit The Wrecking Crew Drummer Played On". Billboard. Retrieved July 24, 2021.
  13. ^ a b "Bookends". Art Garfunkel Official Site.
  14. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. St Ives, NSW: Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  15. ^ "Simon & Garfunkel – Mrs. Robinson" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50. Retrieved April 1, 2018.
  16. ^ "Top RPM Singles: Issue 5768." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved July 12, 2017.
  17. ^ "Simon & Garfunkel – Mrs. Robinson" (in German). GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved April 1, 2018.
  18. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – week 27, 1968" (in Dutch). Dutch Top 40 Retrieved April 1, 2018.
  19. ^ "Simon & Garfunkel – Mrs. Robinson" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved November 6, 2014.
  20. ^ "search listener". Flavour of NZ. Retrieved March 29, 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 August 12, 2014. Retrieved March 29, 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 March 29, 2018.
  29. ^ "Cash Box YE Pop Singles – 1968". Tropical glen. Archived from the original on October 9, 2016. Retrieved March 29, 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" under "Sezione".
  31. ^ "British single certifications – Simon & Garfunkel – Mrs Robinson". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved September 3, 2021.
  32. ^ "American single certifications – Simon & Garfunkel – Mrs. Robinson". Recording Industry Association of America.
  33. ^ "Mother (1996)". Retrieved March 29, 2018 – via www.imdb.com.
  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. ^ "New Releases: Singles" (PDF). Music Week. November 21, 1992. p. 17. Retrieved June 25, 2021.
  38. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "It's a Shame About Ray - The Lemonheads | Songs, Reviews, Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved July 26, 2021.
  39. ^ Blackwell, Mark. "Just Like Evan". SPIN. SPIN Media LLC (April 1993).
  40. ^ "Rock singer owes success to 'Mrs. Robinson' affair". The Columbus Dispatch. Retrieved August 25, 2021.
  41. ^ Geen, Jessica (January 12, 2010). "Campaign to make Mrs Robinson number one". Pink News. Retrieved February 18, 2011.
  42. ^ "The Lemonheads – Mrs. Robinson". ARIA Top 50 Singles. Retrieved April 1, 2018.
  43. ^ "ARIA Top 20 Alternative Singles – Week Ending: 21st March, 1993 (from The ARIA Report Issue No. 163}". ARIA, via Imgur.com. Retrieved November 23, 2019.
  44. ^ "Eurochart Hot 100 Singles" (PDF). Music & Media. Vol. 10 no. 3. January 16, 1993. p. 15. Retrieved May 26, 2020.
  45. ^ "The Irish Charts – Search Results – Mrs. Robinson". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved April 1, 2018.
  46. ^ "The Lemonheads – Mrs. Robinson". Top 40 Singles. Retrieved April 1, 2018.
  47. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved April 1, 2018.
  48. ^ "The Lemonheads Chart History (Alternative Airplay)". Billboard. Retrieved April 1, 2018.
  49. ^ "The Lemonheads Chart History (Bubbling Under Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved April 1, 2018.

BibliographyEdit

External linksEdit