Simon & Garfunkel “Mrs. Robinson” Lyrics Meaning
The verses of this classic by Simon & Garfunkel sparsely detail the lifestyle of the titular Mrs. Robinson, and the hooks for the most part show how the artists feel about her.
In the first verse she is described as someone that Simon and Garfunkel would “like to know a little bit about”. They also express the sentiment that they would “like to help (her) learn to help (herself)”. This line suggests that she is battling with certain challenges that the narrators feel they can help her with. She is also labeled as someone who is surrounded by “sympathetic eyes”.
Second and Third Verses
The second verse is based on “affair(s)” that Mrs. Robinson and her husband seem to be having. Most importantly, according to the artists, Mrs. Robinson is compelled to “hide it from the kids”. And the third verse alludes to the fact that Mrs. Robinson is involved in politics.
In the hooks of the song, the artists state to Mrs. Robinson that “Jesus loves” her a lot. Furthermore they ask for God’s blessings in her life. Thus the logical conclusion is that they view her as an upright, righteous person. Additionally in the final hook, they make what seems to be an offbeat reference to baseball legend Joe DiMaggio, stating that he has “left and gone away”. However, this is once again a roundabout acknowledgement of Mrs. Robinson. Or the sentiment they are actually putting forth is that Mrs. Robinson is a hero along the lines of Joe DiMaggio, and that now the world is lacking in such individuals.
And now for the big reveal – the song “Mrs. Robinson” was actually written in reference to Eleanor Roosevelt, who served as First Lady of the United States for a record 12 years (1933-1945). She was First Lady throughout major events such as the Great Depression and World War II – and was highly-regarded for her contributions to the Presidency. In fact the song was originally entitled “Mrs. Roosevelt”, with Simon & Garfunkel changing the name to “Mrs. Robinson” in order to make it applicable to the movie it was featured in, The Graduate (1967). As such, the character featured in the song and the one portrayed in the movie have little, if anything, in common.
So in summation, this song is actually based on the very-high regard Paul Simon in particular had for Eleanor Roosevelt.
Contrary to popular belief, this song is not about a fictional movie character but rather First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt.
“Mrs. Robinson” was not written for The Graduate
Contrary to what many think, this song was not written specifically for The Graduate. Rather Paul Simon had already been working on the track, submitted it reluctantly to be considered for the film after two other of his and Garfunkel’s song had been rejected and actually filled in incomplete parts with the repetitious ‘dee’s’ heard particularly at the beginning. The track’s name was easily changed from “Mrs. Roosevelt” to “Mrs. Robinson”, the main character in The Graduate, since they are both three-syllable words. That is why the individual who they are singing about bears little resemblance to the “seductive” character in the movie. However, some viewers still recognize this track as an epilogue to the actual film.
Either way, it is clear that being featured in the film contributed to the success of this song. In fact if it had not been chosen for that film, Simon & Garfunkel never would have recorded it.
More Interesting Facts about “Mrs. Robinson”
- Despite its inseparable connection to The Graduate and even voted as one of the greatest America movie songs of the 20th century, “Mrs. Robinson” wasn’t even considered for an Oscar. Why? Because Simon & Garfunkel neglected to submit it for nomination. That said, it should be noted that the film itself went on to win four Oscars at the 1968 Academy Awards.
- “Mrs. Robinson” wasn’t the only Simon & Garfunkel song that appeared in The Graduate. “Scarborough Fair / Canticle” was also featured on the film’s soundtrack.
- Hearing that baseball great Joe DiMaggio was not pleased with the way his name was used in the song, Simon actually approached him when they happened to cross paths a few years later. Simon explained that he was actually referring to him as a hero. According to him, DiMaggio not only accepted the explanation but also expressed his gratitude.
- In addition to the iconic film, The Graduate, this track has also been featured in a number of movies. One such notable film is 1994’s Forrest Gump.
Did “Mrs. Robinson” win a Grammy?
The song won two major awards at the 1965 Grammy Awards. One of these major awards was the award for Record of the Year.
How did this Simon and Garfunkel classic perform on the charts?
It did very well. For example, it topped the Billboard Hot 100 in the United States. Furthermore, it went to number one on the Canada Top Singles chart.
Additional countries it charted in include Australia, Germany and the United Kingdom, where it reached number-4 on the Singles chart.
When did “Mrs. Robinson” come out?
It was released as a single on 5 April 1968 and featured on the soundtrack of The Graduate.
Who wrote “Mrs. Robinson”?
Musical genius, Paul Simon, is the sole writer behind this track. He and Art Garfunkel produced the song alongside American record producer, Roy Halee.
Who has covered this classic?
It has also been covered by a number of prominent artists since its release in the late 1960s. Some of these big names include Frank Sinatra and Bon Jovi. In 1992, the Lemonheads, released their version of this song. That version charted in both the United Kingdom and United States.