In a Nutshell
In a Nutshell
A lot has changed since 1967 when Paul Simon wrote his short version of “Mrs. Robinson” for Mike Nichols’ film, The Graduate.
(Simon and Garfunkel recorded a more complete version—the version we hear on the radio today—for their 1968 album, Bookends.
) When Mrs. Robinson was introduced to the world, she was scorned as a boy- eating monster, a broken down woman set on corrupting an innocent kid. In Simon’s song, he contrasted her with an “American hero,” Joe DiMaggio—a quiet and dignified ball player.
But today, Mrs. Robinson is honored by some as “a symbol of female independence for a new generation of married women.” And the archetype she represented—the “cougar”—is now courted rather than feared. Cougar dating services, conventions, and even cruises now prey on this formerly vilified “predator.”
So how exactly did this song originate? What did it mean in 1967? Who exactly was Joe DiMaggio, and why did Simon turn his “lonely eyes” to him? And what does the de-clawing of “the cougar” represent?
About the Song
|Artist||Simon and Garfunkel
||Musician(s)||Paul Simon (vocals, guitar), Art Garfunkel (vocals), Hal Blaine (drums, congas), Joe Osborn (bass)
|Producer(s)||Roy Halee, Paul Simon, Art Garfunkel|
Explore the ways this song connects with the world and with other topics on Shmoop
When Paul Simon began writing what would become the 1968 hit “Mrs. Robinson,” he intended it to be a song about times past. But then he received a call from movie producer Mike Nichols, who asked Simon for some songs for his 1967 film The Graduate
. Simon changed the title and the lyrics to fit the film’s antagonist, and the song and the movie became two of the biggest hits of the 1960s.
On the Charts
The version of “Mrs. Robinson” that Simon and Garfunkel recorded for their 1968 album Bookends
—not to be confused with the sparser version that featured in the 1967 film The Graduate
—made it all the way to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts. Despite having already built up an impressive collection of hits, the song was only their second to reach #1.
“Mrs. Robinson” also earned Simon and Garfunkel the award for Record of the Year at the 1969 Grammy Awards, their first Grammy.