Simon and Garfunkel’s Mrs Robinson from The Graduate (1967) released in a different single version kept Hugo Montenegro’s cover version of Ennio Morricone’s The Good, The Bad And The Ugly from the No.1 spot in the Uk in 1968. Director, Mike Nichols had approached Clive Davis at Columbia to license music for his film. Initially sceptical, Simon agreed to deliver three songs for the movie, he submitted, Punky’s Dilemma, Overs and and an unfinished piece that would become Mrs Robinson. (All three songs would appear on Simon And Garfunkel’s next album Bookends). The problem was that Mike Nichol’s only liked Mrs Robinson so they agreed on a version of Mrs Robinson plus they used two older tracks, Scarborough Fair/Canticle from Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme (1966) and an acoustic version of The Sounds Of Silence (notice the ‘s’) originally from the debut album Wednesday Morning 3AM (1964).
The Sound Of Silence had been rereleased as a single, Columbia in house producer Tom Wilson overdubbed drums, bass and guitars which explains why the rhythm goes astray – the band were playing to the acoustic version rather than Simon And Garfunkel singing to the band. The reason he did this was because their debut album was not a success, but the song The Sounds Of Silence had picked up some airplay and Wilson figured he could model the interest into a hit. He did this without the knowledge of Simon and Garfunkel, at this point they thought the band was over, still, they must have been horrified and to add insult to injury Columbia had the nerve to release it as a single. It became a massive hit establishing the duo and reaching the Top Ten in many countries, it was a US No.1 in 1966 and led to Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme (1966) reaching No.4 on the US chart with the title track a hit as well as another classic song, Homeward Bound included. (Note in the UK Homeward Bound was released on Sounds Of Silence).
The Graduate was a big success at the box office and further established the duo, Mrs Robinson’s success guaranteed the success of the next album Bookends (1968) and featured another classic song, America. (Swedish sister duo First Aid Kit recently recorded a very lovely version of the song). The album also included, The 59th St Bridge Song (Feelin’ Groovy) and A Hazy Shade Of Winter. The Bangles recorded a version of the song for the film Less Than Zero (1987) that reached No.2 on the US chart whereas Simon And Garfunkel’s version released in 1966 only made it to No.13.
Everybody knows that Dustin Hoffman starred in the film as the rather awkward Benjamin Braddock and Katherine Ross as Elaine Robinson but most memorable is the performance of Anne Bancroft as the seductress, Mrs Robinson. An already established and respected actress, you might not know that Anne Bancroft won an Academy Award for her lead role in The Miralce Worker (1962). She was married to Mel Brooks from 1964 till her death of uterine cancer in 2005. Mike Nichols died of a heart attack in 2014.
Two classic Paul Simon songs from a classic movie. Iconic lyrical masterpieces and melodies that captured the zeitgeist and are forever challenging songwriters to create something as perennial and influential. Note: incidental music was by Dave Grusin.
The version of Mrs Robinson comes from Bookends (1968), The Sounds Of Silence from Wednesday Morning 3AM (1964)