89. Simon & Garfunkel – ‘Mrs. Robinson’ (1968)

“Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio?
Our nation turns it’s lonely eyes to you
What’s that you say, Mrs. Robinson?
Joltin’ Joe has left and gone away”

Written by Paul Simon

Produced by Roy Halee/Paul Simon/Art Garfunkel

Taken from the album The Graduate: Original Soundtrack

Also released on Bookends, Simon & Garfunkel’s Greatest Hits, Collected Works, The Concert In Central Park, 20 Greatest Hits, Forrest Gump: Original Soundtrack, Old Friends, The Best Of Simon & Garfunkel, Tales From New York: The Very Best Of Simon & Garfunkel, The Definitive Simon & Garfunkel, The Essential Simon & Garfunkel, Old Friends: Live On Stage and Live 1969

US #1, UK #4

There are a few songs that fight for the title of Simon & Garfunkel’s best loved song, and while ‘Mrs. Robinson’ is not quite my absolute favourite by them, it is very much up there. Coupling a catchy chorus with cryptic, snarky lyrics about suburban life that suddenly turn into a mournful eulogy for American culture, ‘Mrs. Robinson’ holds a lot of history in it, and has been a icon of sixties pop.

I’ve never seen The Graduate so I can’t say much about the connection with that film, but ‘Mrs. Robinson’ is quite easy to enjoy with no knowledge of the movie. It feels very much like a “slice-of-life” piece, as many Simon & Garfunkel songs were, and has a special cinematic quality to it that they seemed to reserve for only their very best songs, employing a similar feel for ‘The Boxer’, ‘America’ and ‘The Sound Of Silence’. This song is more instant that any of those, however, and has the most infectious chorus of any of their singles.

My favourite lyrics come at the end, with that incredible verse quoted above (“Where have you gone Joe DiMaggio…”). After the song was so misleadingly jaunty up until this point, to hear a cry for the dignified heroes of yesteryear shifts the focus of the song completely and is both heartwarming and surprising. That was Simon & Garfunkel, though, never content to being simple folk-pop artists, they took every opportunity to take things to the next level.

Audio:

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