Study Guide

Mrs. Robinson Introduction

Mrs. Robinson Introduction

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 (specifically, the Mrs. Robinson Society) 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

ArtistSimon and Garfunkel
Year1968
LabelColumbia
Writer(s)Paul Simon
Producer(s)Roy Halee, Paul Simon, Art Garfunkel
Musician(s)Paul Simon (vocals, guitar), Art Garfunkel (vocals), Hal Blaine (drums, congas), Joe Osborn (bass)
Learn to play
AlbumBookends

Music Video

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Influences on Simon and Garfunkel

Everly Brothers
Bob Dylan
The Hilltoppers
The Four Aces
The Crewcuts
Little Richard
Fats Domino

Influenced by Simon and Garfunkel

Simon and Garfunkel have had an enormous influence on popular and folk music. One measure lies in the range of artists that have performed or recorded covers of one song alone, "Bridge Over Troubled Water." 

The list includes Elvis Presley, Aretha Franklin, Willie Nelson, the Jackson Five, the Supremes, Andrea Bocelli and Mary Blige, Perry Como, Roy Orbison, Buck Owens, Shirley Bassey, Roberta Flack, Johnny Cash, and Stevie Wonder.

Mrs. Robinson Resources

Images

Simon and Garfunkel
Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel, 1968.

Mrs. Robinson
Mrs. Robinson opens up her private life to Ben.

Joltin’ Joe
Joe DiMaggio at the plate.

Marilyn and Joe
Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio, 1954.

Websites

Paul Simon's Official Site
There isn't much to this website, but there's a lyrics tab and some recent news clipping.

Video & Audio

"Mrs. Robinson" (Studio Version)
From Bookends, 1968.

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