The Story Behind Simon & Garfunkel's Mrs. Robinson

Legendary musical duo Simon and Garfunkel, comprised of Art Garfunkel and Paul Simon, have a long list of hits such as "The Sound of Silence" and "Bridge Over Troubled Water." Before ending their music partnership due to disagreements and rivalry, the two released six albums together throughout the 1960s. They gave their last performances together in 1970s, save for a few reunion shows every few decades. However, when speaking to the Independent, Simon said that another reunion is "out of the question." 

Despite the contempt that Simon and Garfunkel have for each other, the songs live on, particularly in the Oscar-winning film "The Graduate" from 1967 starring Dustin Hoffman and Ann Bancroft. The film features the song "Mrs. Robinson." Bancroft plays the role of Mrs. Robinson. But how much of the song pertains to her character or the film itself? The lyrics are eccentric on the surface level, but as with most rock songs, there is more than meets the eye.

The song was originally called Mrs. Roosevelt

Paul Simon originally wrote the song as "Mrs. Roosevelt," but changed it to "Mrs. Robinson" for use in "The Graduate." Song Facts cites lyrics like "Going to the candidates debate" as a connection to former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. Roosevelt participated in the very first televised debate. Roosevelt represented the Democratic party and Margaret Chase Smith represented the Republican party. This debate occurred in 1956, four years before the first-ever televised presidential debate. Though Roosevelt was not a candidate for office, she did make history all the same.

Simon described it as "a song about times past," which is why it references Roosevelt and famous baseball player Joe DiMaggio. It was a tribute to Roosevelt and was not finished when "The Graduate" director Mike Nichols asked to include it in the film, but he was a fan of the duo's music and wanted a song of theirs to be in the film (via Genius).

Paul Simon did not intend to use the song in The Graduate

"Mrs. Robinson" was not written specifically for "The Graduate," but Mike Nichols heard the "Mrs. Roosevelt" version and urged Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel to record it because the syllables fit with "Mrs. Robinson." Nichols initially wanted Simon and Garfunkel to write an original song for "The Graduate," but because of the duo's busy schedule, Nichols suggested the edit to make the existing song fit the name of the film's character, Mrs. Robinson (via Song Facts).

Given the fact that "Mrs. Robinson" was not written for "The Graduate," there are few similarities between the character Mrs. Robinson, Eleanor Roosevelt, and the overall meaning of the song. Nevertheless, the song often comes to mind when fans think of the film. "Mrs. Robinson" did not receive an Oscar nomination simply because Simon and Garfunkel did not submit it for consideration. It did win record of the year at the Grammys a year after its release as a single. Not bad for a song that Simon did not even originally consider using when Nichols asked for a song to use for "The Graduate."