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Mrs. Robinson by Simon & Garfunkel

Album: The Graduate SoundtrackReleased: 1968Charted:
1
4
  • This was written for the movie The Graduate, starring Anne Bancroft as Mrs. Robinson, a middle age woman who seduces the much younger Dustin Hoffman. Although Bancroft has had a long and successful film career, she is still best known for her part in this movie.
  • Regarding the famous line, "Where have you gone Joe DiMaggio?": DiMaggio was a star baseball player for the New York Yankees who was briefly married to Marilyn Monroe. Simon was using him to represent heroes of the past. DiMaggio was a little miffed when he heard this, since he was still very much alive even though he retired from baseball in 1951, but he realized that he had become a new icon now with the baby boomer generation due to this song's success.
    Simon, who is a huge fan of The Yankees, explained in a 1990 interview with SongTalk magazine: "The Joe DiMaggio line was written right away in the beginning. And I don't know why or where it came from. It seems so strange, like it didn't belong in that song and then, I don't know, it was so interesting to us that we just kept it. So it's one of the most well-known lines that I've ever written."
  • Paul Simon was a much bigger fan of Mickey Mantle than Joe DiMaggio. On The Dick Cavett Show, Simon was asked by Mantle why he wasn't mentioned in the song instead of DiMaggio. Simon replied, "It's about syllables, Mick. It's about how many beats there are."
  • When DiMaggio died in 1999, it was a very emotional event for many baseball fans who grew up watching him play. The part of this song that mentions him summed of the feelings of many people who felt there was no one left to look up to. Simon wrote an editorial about DiMaggio in The New York Times shortly after his death.
  • Simon began writing this as "Mrs. Roosevelt." He changed it to "Mrs. Robinson" for the movie. He may have written this about Eleanor Roosevelt. Some of the lyrics support this such as "We'd like to help you learn to help yourself. Look around you, all you see are sympathetic eyes" and "Going to the candidates debate. Laugh about it, shout about it. When you've got to choose. Every way you look at it, you lose." Roosevelt was a female rights and black rights activist, always helping everyone but herself during the Great Depression. A lot of the time she seemed to have been running the country as much as FDR, but never would have actually won the presidency because she was female. (thanks, Megan - Rochester, NY)
  • Simon & Garfunkel's "The Sound Of Silence" and "Scarborough Fair" were also used in The Graduate, but they had appeared on earlier albums. This was not heard until the movie opened.
  • Frank Sinatra covered this on his 1969 album My Way. He changed the words, adding some of his own jive and making reference to the movie The Graduate.
  • This would have had a good chance to win an Oscar for Best Song From A Movie, but it was never nominated because Simon & Garfunkel never filled out the forms to get it considered, leaving "Talk To The Animals" from Doctor Dolittle as the winner. Simon explained, "It was the '60s, we just weren't paying attention." It took 35 years, but Simon finally was nominated for an Oscar in 2003 for his song "Father And Daughter," which was used in The Wild Thornberry's Movie.
  • According to a "making of" feature on The Graduate DVD, Paul Simon did not originally write a full-length version of this song, only the verses that are heard in the movie. After the movie became a hit, he finished the lyrics and recorded the full version that is known today. (thanks, Snatchworth - Seattle, WA)
  • This song won the Grammy Award for Record of the Year in 1969. The award was first given out in 1959, and in the '60s, songs like "Moon River" and "I Left My Heart in San Francisco" won the award. "Mrs. Robinson" was the first Record of the Year with ties to Rock music.
  • Many top session musicians recorded with Simon & Garfunkel, including drummer Hal Blaine, who played on this and considers it one of his favorites.
  • A cover version of this song was recorded and charted by the '90s group Lemonheads. Their single peaked at US #8 on the US Modern Rock chart in 1992, and hit #19 on the UK Pop chart. The Lemonheads were asked to record the song for the 25th anniversary release of The Graduate, prompting Lemonhead Evan Dando to comment, "Some people, probably wearing Italian shoes, said, 'Hmmm, we need to get The Graduate out to more of a flannel-wearing kind of audience." Dando would later say, "I'm more proud of my own songs than the version of 'Mrs. Robinson,' which frankly I can take or leave – mostly leave."
  • Learn about this song and its use in The Graduate in Song Images.
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Comments: 55

On June 1st 1969, "Mrs. Robinson" by Booker T. & the MG's entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #90; and on July 6th it peaked at #37 (for 1 week) and spent 8 weeks on the Top 100...
Exactly one year earlier on June 1st, 1968 the original version of "Mrs. Robinson" by Simon and Garfunkel was the #1 record on the Top 100...
Booker T. & the MG's had three other records make the Top 100 in 1969; "Hang'em High" (peaked at #9), "Time Is Tight" (reached #6), and "Slum Baby" (peaked at #88).
Barry - Sauquoit, Ny
These days (2014) I love it when this song plays on oldies radio. Back in '68 I bought the single & even saw "The Graduate" with my Granny. Thanks to Barry who posted the info about Mr. DiMaggio. Very cool. And oh yes, to Randy of Fayetteville AR, it's "coo coo c'choo, Mrs. Robinson" NOT "koo koo ka-chew Mrs. Robinson. Just so ya know. Now, Miss Rotunda says go now....go in peace! ---------coo coo c'choo Mrs. Robinson !!Rotunda - Tulsa, Ok
“Where have you gone Joe DiMaggio, a nation turns its lonely eyes to you”
On this day in 1999 (April 25th) Paul Simon performed "Mrs. Robinson" at 'Joe DiMaggio Tribute Day' ceremonies at Yankee Stadium...
And exactly thirty-one years earlier on April 25th, 1968 "Mrs. Robinson" was in its 1st week on Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #58; and on May 26th, 1968 it peaked at #1 (for 3 weeks) and spent 13 weeks on the Top 100...
R.I.P. Joltin' Joe (November 25th, 1914 - March 8th, 1999).
Barry - Sauquoit, Ny
re Joe D line. I Just happened to see a Paul Simon interview on Fox Sports program "Game 365." He stated that the phrase had no meaning whatsoever and he didn't know why he wrote it other than it was lyrical and sounded nice. So all this crap about Marilyn Monroe and death and any other crap is just that: CRAP.Rob - St Louis, Mo
Why did they put "coo coo ca-choo" into the lyrics when they could've put the original words by The Beatles (from I Am The Walrus) as "goo goo ga-joob" instead? Anyone know? Anyway, it's a good song from decades ago. Why would they put something from The Beatles into their song? Why why ohh why?Raunchy - Tulsa, Ok
On December 21st 1967 the movie "The Graduate" had dual world premiers in New York City and Los Angeles...
The next day it opened in theaters across the U.S.A.
Mike Nichols won an Oscar for 'Best Director'...
Two Simon & Garfunkel songs that were featured in the movie charted on Billboard's Hot Top 100; "Scarborough Fair/Canticle" peaked at #11 and spent 11 weeks on the Top 100, while "Mrs. Robinson" reached #1 (for 3 weeks) on May 26th, 1968 and stayed on the Top 100 for 13 weeks.
Barry - Sauquoit, Ny
Yep, I remember when "Mrs. Robinson" ruled the charts in '68 and I saw "The Graduate" 3 times the day it was released. It's not that I loved the movie ( it was good though), but me & my buddies stayed in the theater (Lawrence, Ks.) because a huge demonstration/riot was going on outside in the city park! Hippies, KU students, dissidents, etc. were everywhere. Those were the times though. Great hit for Simon & Garfunkel. Oh yeah...."koo koo ka-chew, Mrs. Robinson!!"Randy - Fayettevile, Ar
Reading the comments makes me think that listeners are trying to fit a round peg into a square hole. Mrs. Robinson's problems were not a bid deal in the movie, she was a Cougar of her era putting the moves on a cute young stud. He enjoyed it but ends up falling in love with daughter Elaine. Hardly any of the movie has anything to with Mrs Robinson other than a brief bit about her dropping out of school because she is pregnant with Elaine. The Mrs. Robinson in the song appears in contrast to be someone who is being placed in a home. It might be an old folks home or a mental institution, the latter seeming likely because "we've got to hide it from the kids.|" Face it guys the link between Mrs. Robinson and the movie and the song is pretty pretty thin.

The song is wonderful the movie is terrific, each boosted the success of the other, but the two are barely related.
Jim - Brandon, Bc
My friend Katie was singing this song and I was the only one who knew it. I adore the part "put it in the pantry with your cupcakes." Mrs. Robinson's struggle to overcome bulimia is very well portrayed by this part, especially with her entering rehab ("We'd like to know a little bit about you for our files...stroll around the grounds till you feel at home.")Shannon - Irvine, Ca
It takes place when Mrs. Robinson is entering an old age home, not an asylum, per se. "We'd like to know a little bit about you for our files...stroll around the grounds till you feel at home."
She longs for time past "Where have you gone Joe DiMaggio", a time when America had clear values. You can picture her as active in politics when it was relatively clean, "Going to the canidates' debate."
She had done something embarrassing when she was younger, "It's a little secret...Most of all you've got to hide it from the kids."
But the major theme is one of nostalgia, "Joltin' Joe has left and gone away."
Dan - Telzstone, Israel
It's so obvious to me - if you've seen the movie, this song is about after Mrs. Robinson loses her daughter to Benjamin (they run away together), the truth comes out that Mrs. R. seduced Benjamin, she becomes clinically depressed from the public scorn and is now in a mental facility. Joe DiMaggio being "gone" represents the fact that heroes are now gone from the public view after Watergate (hence the reference to the candidates' debate, etc.) "Just the Robinsons' affair" - also obvious now that her secret has come out. "Hide it in the pantry" - she was taking pills and was an alcoholic. Think about it. Sad, lonely housewife looking for excitement - the young dude she picks falls in love with her DAUGHTER!! What a nightmare, especially in that time period! No wonder she goes bonkers!Ryjus - Pittsburgh, Pa
My science teacher started singing this the other day, I was the only one who knew what he was singing, and the only one who didn't think he had gone mad, singing about a "Mrs. Robinson" that no one knew.Breanna - Henderson, Nv
Most of you must be too young to remember when this song was big. It was very controversial.
What she was hiding in the pantry was her birth control pills...they allowed her to be promiscuous.
"The Pill" was the big symbol of sexual freedom for women.
Charlie - Near Philly, Pa
Has Paul Simon ever commented on "Mrs.Roosevelt" verses "Mrs. Robinson"?Reg - Kemptville, On, -
Wait I forgot to add the meaning....

I think Mrs. Robinson is trying to uphold the "perfect" image that was the 50's.

Mrs. Robinson is more or less every house wife in the 60's that felt society was starting to fall apart in america. They thought the flower childern were the most terrible thing ever. They were trying to keep the perfectionism in life and it's impossible.

This song is accually quite sad becuase Mrs. Robinson kept living in a delusion that Jesus loved her more than anybody and that she was perfect.

This is the perfect song.
69-so-fine - French Lick, Indiana!!, In
Weezer's cover is pretty good too. =D69-so-fine - French Lick, Indiana!!, In
I thought "where have you gone Joe DiMaggio?" and "Joltin Joe has left and gone away" referred to his marriage to Marilyn Monroe as he was no longer available...just a thought from Mr RobinsonSteve - Horley, United Kingdom
I agree with Masha...I think that the song is about Mrs. Robinson's visit to a mental institution. "We'd like to help you learn to help yourself"; "Look around you all you see is sympathetic eyes.." Mrs. Rob's life has not turned out like she thought it would (pining for the days of Joe DiMaggio) and she's a well-to-do middle aged woman who's marriage is cold and loveless, and so she has turned to drugs (Valium,et al)"hide it your pantry with your cupcakes" and she has finally become so depressed she enters a facility. Just a theory....Sandy - Huntington, Ny
It's reference to most is from a film about a woman who seduces a guy (supposedly) young enough to be her son. Hoffman's character is 21 in the film, but he was 30 when he played him & Bancroft was 34.
Remember the film EARTHQUAKE, Heston (56) plays the father of Ava Gardner (54). What are film makers thinking ?
Nunzio - Darwin, Australia
in my opinion, all of you think too much.it is an amazing song, as were most all songs from that era. just leave it at that.

oh, and its "jesus loves you more than you will know", not youre a slutty moron.
Megan - Portage, Mi
this song is legendary and will always remain bird and kyms drinking song, shame on the old bell, on saddlergate, Derby for removing it from the jukebox, Im only 24 and still love it so no excuses!Kym - Derby, United States
The Robinson secret is not about drugs or alcohol, it is that Mrs. Robinson was pregnant with their daughter when they got married and it was, accordingly, a loveless marriage. This was a big point in the movie and the reson why she was committing adultary with the dustin Hoffman character, who later falls in love with that daughter.

I prefer the song "America" on the same album and Garfunkel's solo version of Breakaway to this song by this duo.
John - Boston, Ma
It IS COO COO C'choo is Mr robinson but the beatles sing goo goo g'joob get the facts right.....Logan - Croghan, Ny
dude this song is pretty amazing!Cody - Arlington Heights, Il
errrr. "coo coo c'choo" irritates me so bad. it's goo goo g'joob. before you write a song and you want to put that in there, ask around first. slkdfjSarah - Pittsburgh, Pa
I have never seen the Graduate, but I assume it is about an affair between Mrs Robinson and a student (Dustin Hoffman). I would assume since the song was written for the movie, that it would have something to do with the plot of the movie. Did Mrs. Robinson have a drug addiction or an alcohol addiction? The secret that she is hiding "with her cupcakes" is probably the secret of her affair with a younger student. I hate to but your collective bubbles, but not ALL songs written at this time were about drugs.Brandon - Peoria, Il
Goo Goo Goo'joob doesent mean anything in inuit its from a book.Robert - Phili., Pa
Jared I know where you're talking about, and it is in there.Stefanie - Rock Hill, Sc
"Living is easy with eyes closed." That's one of the lines form "Strawberryfields forever" by the Beatles. I never knew that had to do with the walrus.Stefanie - Rock Hill, Sc
When I heard this as a kid I assumed it meant DiMaggio was dead, so I was baffled when I saw him on Mr. Coffee coffeemaker commercials! In that New York Times piece, Simon says he once went up to DiMaggio at a restaurant where they both happened to be dining and explained his lyric. DiMaggio was mad at first but liked Simon's explanation (according to Simon, anyway).Fyodor - Denver, Co
It's not "Coo coo ca choo," it's "Goo goo g'joob." That was taken from "I am the Walrus." In Inuit it means "Living is easy with eyes closed" and was used to establish a connection to the Inuit. The reason for that is that the Inuit see the walrus as a symbol of death. Paul is the walrus, Paul is dead.Warrinder - A Town, Canada
i think the coo coo ca choo is only in the beatles verision at that comes from the song "i am the walrus". i could be wrong, i just dont think its in there..Jared - Westmont, Nj
Man. This is an AWESOME song. It's so catchy and sing-able. It's just.... great.Mandy - Calgary, Canada
"Mrs. Robinson" was covered by the Lemonheads and used in Wayne's World 2 (1993), The Other Sister (1999) and American Pie 2 (2001).A.j. - Chicago, Il
I'm not trying to be offensive, but it sounds kind of like they're saying "here's to you, Mrs. Robinson, You're a slutty moron wow, wow, wow."Dan - Lee, Nh
I think it's about a woman doing cocaine (coo coo ca choo?) and being forced to go to rehab. "Stroll around the grounds until you feel at home." That makes it sound like she doesn't want to be there (who would}/didn't go there willingly.Lychee - Hhi, Sc
oh yeah and the character in the graduate is an unhappy middleaged woman who does drink quite often..Yiota - Sydney, Australia
the song is actually about a female alcoholic..."put it in ur pantry with your cup cakes"...and she is now in rehab..."stroll around the grounds until u feel at home"
u can definately tell that shes an alcoholic when they sing "coo coo ca choo" hence a glugging, drinking noise

...
i didnt think there was any dispute about the meaning anyway
Yiota - Sydney, Australia
Actually, the only part of the song that appeared in "The Graduate" was the chorus: "And here's to you Mrs. Robinson ..." And even that was different from the final version: The last two lines in the movie were, "Stand up tall, Mrs. Robinson, God in heaven smiles on those who pray."Eric - Teaneck, Nj
So here is something I have wondered about since my English Lit. term paper, 30 years ago. The paper was on Branwell Bronte, brother of the literary Bronte sisters. Branwell was a young man searching for his life (never found it). He got a break by getting a job as a tutor with a family, but he screwed it up by having an affair with the mother - a Mrs. Lydia ROBINSON. And, Branwell's life often took him to the town of SCARBORHOUGH....weird, huh?Bill - Canton, Oh
"If anyone finds out anything about this let us know........Laurie,Farmington NY"

Hi! I do know about this song. :)
There were only snippets of the song used in the movie "The Graduate" and those snippets weren't in the finished product. Someone above was correct when commenting that the song was not finished until after the movie was released. Besides "Mrs. Robinson" there are no new songs by the duo in the film or on the soundtrack. The new songs Simon did write for the film were rejected as not being "right" for the film. Perhaps this idea miffed Simon... but whether it did or not, the finished product he produced after the film was completed was not at all about the movie. What the song is referring to is a Welfare office. It describes the passive/aggressive way that financially troubled people are treated by the welfare system and how they are made to feel less than worthy. It highlights the religious aspect of "charity" and how that, too, can be condescending. It tells about the need humiliated people, down on their luck, feel to keep public assistance a "dirty secret" that they hide from their children out of shame, hiding vouchers in the pantry. It refers to the futility these people feel knowing that whichever candidate takes the presidency, nothing will change. And they remember carefree days of Dimaggio, gone away.
Hope this helps. :)
Melissa - Oklahoma City, Ok
I think it's about an asylum. "We'd like to know a little bit about you for our files
We'd like to help you learn to help yourself
Look around you, all you see are sympathetic eyes
Stroll around the grounds until you feel at home" that's definitely about an asylum. Actually I have the impression that the subject changes everytime. First it's about an asylum, then it's about the Graduate I think, and well I don't know about the rest. Allright, that was really useless, sorry.
Masha - Amsterdam, Netherlands
Well, it turns out that Anne Banecroft has died at age 73.
Here's to you Mrs Robinson- Heaven holds a place for those who pray. R.I.P.
Alex - New Orleans, La
I actually heard something from a religious teacher of mine that, in fact, the song Mrs. Robinson was written about a certain theological concept from a group of extremists that sought to (literally or symbolically, i'm not sure)"have sex with God". He said that Simon and Garfunkel were expirementing with different religions at the time. This is reflected in the refrain "Mrs. Robinson, Jesus loves you more than you would know".Thor - Glendale, Wi
I think I read somewhere that on some talk show, Simon was a guest along with Mickey Mantle. Mickey Mantle asked Simon why he had gone with Dimaggio instead of Mantle. Then Simon said, "It's about syllables, Mick. It's about how many beats there are."Long - Houston, Tx
It was Episode 40 "To live and die in Dixie"

Peter "Hey how 'bout 'Here's to you Mrs. Fleckenstien'"
S & G "Yeah you've been pitching that for an hour but it's just not a very attractive name"
Peter "Oh oh fine fine I suppose we're also not going with Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, and Lowery's Seasoning salt. Thats it I'm going to Nam."

Also I like the Weezer version of this.
Jordan - Waco, Tx
I think this song is about drugs.. i mean think about it 'put it in the pantry with your cupcakes, it's a little secret just the Robisinsons affair, most of all you've got to hide it from the kids'... hmmmmmNicola - Perth, Australia
I agree with James, from Romeo MI......when I read the lyrics to Mrs.Robinson a few times, I thought It sounded like she was in some kind of Institution. If anyone finds out anything about this let us know........Laurie,Farmington NYLaurie - Farmington, Ny
The episode is Mr. Saturday Knight, and it doesn't contain this spoof, does anyone know what episode it is??? Or just say the main plot line and I'll figure it outBrad Nash - Rochester Hills, Mi
yep lemonheads version are betterDale - Milton Keynes, England
I think the Lemonheads cover of this song is better than the original.Rizwan - Highland Park, Nj
okay, i jhave but one thing to say and that is simply this, that the song could have a dual meaning...if you look at the lyrics close enough they COULD also (and in my opinion do) symbolize a drug addicted mother in and out of rehab...take a look and htink about it...James - Romeo, Mi
Did anyone see when they kinda spoofed on this song on the TV show Family Guy? The dad in the family (I forget his name) was talking about his first job, which was with a "folk band". They then cut to a clip of him sitting with Simon and Garfunkle, and the dad's saying "What's wrong with the song guys?" and Simon says "It's just not that catchy, that's all" and then the dad says "Fine. I'm leaving, and i'm taking my song, 'Mrs. Finkleburg', with me". Or it's somewhere along the lines as that, and was really funny. Its in the episode called "The Saturday Knight"Steve - Wallingford, Pa
In his original review of the film, Roger Ebert wrote that the songs of Simon and Garfunkel were "instantly forgettable." He has since retracted that statement.Jesse - Mesa, Az
This song was included on two albums that sat at no. 1 and no. 2 for 9 weeks on the Hot Albums chart: 'The Graduate Soundtrack' and 'Bookends'Charles - Charlotte, Nc