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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?
|Artist||Simon and Garfunkel|
|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|
The Four Aces
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.
Simon and Garfunkel
Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel, 1968.
Mrs. Robinson opens up her private life to Ben.
Joe DiMaggio at the plate.
Marilyn and Joe
Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio, 1954.
Paul Simon's Official Site
There isn't much to this website, but there's a lyrics tab and some recent news clipping.
"Mrs. Robinson" (Studio Version)
From Bookends, 1968.