Have you ever heard something hundreds of times without ever really listening to it? Last week I really listened to “Mrs Robinson” for the first time.
I do most of my music listening in the car whilst driving between client appointments. It’s not the best place, acoustically speaking, for listening to music but it’s “me time” when I can’t do anything else, so I just sit back and listen to my favourite songs.
At least that’s what I thought I did. But I got a new car fairly recently, with a better sound system than my old car, and it turns out I’ve never really listened to “Mrs Robinson” at all.
We’ll get to what I’ve been missing all these years in a moment, but first let’s take a look at one of the most famous songs in the Simon and Garfunkel songbook.
“Mrs Robinson” came from Simon and Garfunkel’s 1968 album “Bookends”, on which “America” and “Hazy Shade Of Winter” also appeared. The use of “Mrs Robinson” in the 1968 film “The Graduate”, starring Anne Bancroft and a very young Dustin Hoffman, cemented its place in cultural history.
Spurred by the movie’s popularity, the song was a great success and reached Number One on the Billboard Hot 100. It didn’t quite do quite as well in the UK, but still made the Top 10 and it’s been a staple of radio airplay ever since.
We all recognise the “dee dee dee” vocals and acoustic guitar playing under the DJ’s patter which signifies that “Mrs Robinson” is the next record up on the radio. It’s instantly recognisable…
And here’s to you, Mrs Robinson
Jesus loves you more than you will know
Whoa, whoa, whoa
God bless you please, Mrs Robinson
Heaven holds a place for those who pray
Hey, hey, hey
Hey, hey, hey
The popularity of “The Graduate” had a lot do to with the popularity of “Mrs Robinson”. What young, inexperienced man hasn’t had fantasies of being with an experienced older woman? And, whilst I’ve got no scientific research to back this up, I’m also prepared to believe that more than a few older women have a very similar dream in reverse.
But the pop charts tend not to embrace songs which talk about God and Jesus quite as prominently as “Mrs Robinson” did.
1968’s record buyers might well have overlooked that opening section because we move straight into a verse which, at a surface level, is about something and nothing. People who have seen “The Graduate” would…