Musically, “Mrs. Robinson” offers a nice example of how to add a mysterious edge to a campfire song. The chorus (“and here’s to you, Mrs. Robinson”) is built on standard major chords and strummed on acoustic guitars. The lyrics, at least during the first three trips through the chorus, are positive and filled with cliché phrasing: “and here’s to you… Jesus loves you… God bless you… Heaven holds a place for those who pray.” Simon even throws in the “woo, woo, woo”s and “hey, hey, hey”s that make for a nice sing-along.
Simon shifts the mood of the song in the verses, though. He throws in a seventh and adds further dissonance through more complex instrumentation. His guitar fills at the end of each line break up the straight strumming of the chorus. Percussionist Hal Blaine adds an eerie pulse with congas to match the less cheerful lyrics. “We'd like to know a little bit about you for our files…. Hide it in a hiding place where no one ever goes.” Art Garfunkel probably had something to do with it as well. The poor guy is always being left behind.