My song today is ‘Mrs. Robinson’. This song was by the American music duo, Simon & Garfunkel. It is from their fourth album, ‘Bookends’(1968). It is famous for its inclusion in the 1967 film ‘The Graduate’. The song was written by Paul Simon, who pitched it to director Mike Nichols alongside Art Garfunkel after Nichols rejected two other songs intended for the film. The song contains a famous reference to baseball star Joe DiMaggio.
‘Mrs. Robinson’ became the duo's second chart-topper, hitting Number 1 on the ‘Billboard Hot 100’, as well as peaking within the top 10 of the United Kingdom, Ireland, and Spain, among other countries. In 1969, it became the first rock song to win the ‘Grammy Award for ‘Record of the Year’. The song has been covered by several artists, including Frank Sinatra and Bon Jovi, plus many others. In 2004, ‘Mrs. Robinson’ finished at Number 6 on ‘AFI’s 100 Years best 100’ survey of top tunes in American cinema.
Released during the year when I was first married, as far as films for the times went, ‘The Graduate’ in which ‘Mrs, Robinson’ was featured ‘in more ways than one’, became a rite of passage for all students, Avant-Garde newly-wed graduates, and randy teenagers of the time. You must bear in mind two things about the year 1968. There was no such thing as the ‘internet’ then, and the only visual access that singletons had of the private parts of females was to be found in stuffy medical books for student doctors, or on the top shelf of backstreet newsagents. There was no ready access like there is today by the simple click of one’s computer mouse. These forbidden images of the most secret female form were only to be found in ‘men’s magazines’ which some chaps would buy to keep in the bottom drawer of their bedroom for wet Wednesday nights when there was nothing else to do with oneself!
Until a young man was married (with a few exceptions) only on one’s wedding night, could one expect to see ‘The Full Monty’ as their wife undressed for bed? In fact, I am not in the least surprised that during 1968, the most common sin revealed to the parish priest by Catholic teenagers entering the confessional box was one of 'masturbation', or that the most popular book at the time was ‘Portnoy’s Complaint’ by the American author Philip Roth (an American best-seller that dealt with 'masturbation').
In fact, come to think of it, apart from a young, and budding singer at the time called Kate Bush who hadn’t yet shown us all her stuff, the only other ‘bush’ many teenagers had ever seen on celluloid film was in the Australian Outback. It certainly was not a full-frontal nude shot of Mrs. Robinson (acted by the actress Ann Bankcroft) as she entered 21-year-old Benjamin Braddock’s room (acted by actor Dustin Hoffman) having disrobed to play her part in their clandestine hotel-room meeting. In the film, the character, Benjamin Braddock is a recent college graduate with no well-defined aim in life. Benjamin is seduced by an older woman, Mrs. Robinson (Anne Bancroft), and then falls in love with her daughter Elaine (Katharine Ross). This just goes to show that if one plays one’s cards right, it is not unheard of to have both mother and daughter, although I would imagine that visiting the in-laws for Sunday tea might prove a bit awkward.
As they say, across the Atlantic Ocean, ‘Only in America’ do such things happen!' Or do they? I suspect that the apprenticeship of many a romantic young man has been amorously advanced by a ‘Mrs. Robinson’ in the background, or some other ‘Mrs 40 something’.
Love and peace Bill xxx