One Song/Three Versions – Mrs. Robinson

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

I was recently watching a documentary about the director Mike Nichols. He said that while making the movie The Graduate, he was listening to what he said was Simon and Garfunkel’s first album. They flashed the album cover on-screen but the one they displayed was actually their second album.

Both albums include “The Sound of Silence,” but it’s the second which has the full-band version and that’s the one he likely actually heard. The first album’s version is Paul and Art with acoustic guitar only. The song was re-done for the second album by the record label to make it more commercial. (Hope you got all that. There’ll be a quiz later). 😀

Anyway, he was initially listening to the album, not because he planned to use it but just for sheer enjoyment. According to Wikipedia, Nichols then decided to use S&G’s existing songs as a pacing device for the editing. He eventually realized that “substituting original music would not be effective and decided to include them on the soundtrack, an unusual move at that time.” In the documentary he said, “Sometimes in filmmaking you get lucky.”

Nichols then contacted Paul Simon and asked him to write a couple of new songs for the movie but, busy touring, he had no time at all to do so. Nichols pleaded with him so he came back and started singing what we now know to be “Mrs. Robinson.” All that Simon had done, after conferring in a corner with Art Garfunkel, was change a song called “Mrs. Roosevelt” he’d been writing to “Mrs. Robinson.”

The version in the movie is just used in a few background scenes as Simon had not yet written all the verses. (Hence the “doo-doo-doo-doo” chorus.) S&G released “Mrs. Robinson” on their excellent Bookends album and it was a big hit in 1968:

In 1992, the Boston-based band, The Lemonheads, did a cover of it, timed with a video re-release of the movie. Interestingly, their leader, Evan Dando, later admitted he hated Simon and the song. Despite that, he admits that Paul is “super-talented.”

Simon in turn “greatly disliked” the version, although Garfunkel liked it, probably as much to tweak his ex-partner as anything else.

Personally I think it’s pretty great. Relax, Paul. You’re eight thousand times more talented than Evan Dando:

And then there’s the Mona Lisa twins, a pair of sisters I pretty much discovered over the Internet maybe a year or two ago. They’re not just an Internet phenomenon but frequently tour, mostly around the UK (and are apparently, regulars at the Cavern Club in Liverpool).

In case you’re wondering about that accent, they’re Austrian. (Do they even know who Joe DiMaggio was?) I love what these ladies do with their covers. Check out their version of “When I’m 64,” sometime.

Where have you gone Joe DiMaggio
A nation turns its lonely eyes to you

What’s that you say Mrs. Robinson
Joltin’ Joe has left and gone away
Hey hey hey
Hey hey hey