Happy 50th Anniversary to The Graduate Soundtrack, originally released January 21, 1968.
Seldom has a soundtrack been so inextricably embedded within a film’s narrative and character development as The Graduate’s, which was originally released 50 years ago today. Simon & Garfunkel’s compositions formed the perfect aural accompaniment to the portrait of the drifting, angst-ridden soul of Benjamin Braddock (played by Dustin Hoffman), as he attempts to reconcile his post-college disenchantment and restlessness with his yearning for a more adventurous and unconventional future.
The soundtrack also proved integral in the ascension of Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel’s musical collaboration, galvanizing sales of their ensuing album Bookends (1968), widely regarded by fans and critics as the pair’s creative high-water mark.
10 Fast Facts about The Graduate Soundtrack:
(1) Unlike most films, the accompanying soundtrack was not released in conjunction with the theatrical release. The film hit theaters on December 22, 1967 and the soundtrack officially surfaced in stores nearly one month later on January 21, 1968.
(2) Simon & Garfunkel contributed five compositions to the soundtrack, but only one of these (“Mrs. Robinson”) had not been previously released. “The Sound of Silence” was originally featured on the duo’s 1964 debut album Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M., as well as its 1966 follow-up LP Sounds of Silence. Their version of the traditional English ballad “Scarborough Fair” and “The Big Bright Green Pleasure Machine” appears on their third studio album Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme.
(3) “Mrs. Robinson” was originally titled “Mrs. Roosevelt” and conceived as an homage to Eleanor Roosevelt. The film’s director Mike Nichols convinced Paul Simon to change the name in order to serve as an anthemic, albeit unfinished tribute to the object of Braddock’s temporary affections, Mrs. Robinson, played by Anne Bancroft.
(4) “Mrs. Robinson” can be heard during the scene that finds Braddock driving northward from his parents’ house in Pasadena, California to Berkeley, California, where he hopes to sweep Elaine Robinson (Katharine Ross) off her feet. However, look closely and you’ll notice that when Braddock crosses the Bay Bridge, he is actually driving in the wrong direction, away from Berkeley, toward San Francisco.
(5) Despite a slew of Academy Award and Golden Globe nominations for the film and its cast/crew, the soundtrack was not nominated in the music categories.
(6) However, “Mrs. Robinson”—the completed version of which was included on Simon & Garfunkel’s Bookends LP released in April 1968—triumphed in the “Record of the Year” category at the 1969 GRAMMY Awards ceremony.
(7) Simon offered two additional songs (“Punky’s Dilemma” and “A Hazy Shade of Winter”) to Nichols for the film, but the director rejected both. The songs soon found a home on Bookends.
(8) Dave Grusin provided the jazz-lounge score as a somewhat incongruous counterpart to Simon & Garfunkel’s folk-rock contributions. Grusin has since become one of the most prolific film composers in history, including acclaimed work on the scores for Heaven Can Wait (1978), The Champ (1979), On Golden Pond (1981), Tootsie (1982), The Goonies (1985) and The Milagro Beanfield War (1988), for which he won the Academy Award for Best Original Score.
(9) The soundtrack was produced by Teo Macero, who co-produced a handful of Miles Davis’ classic albums including Kind of Blue (1959), Sketches of Spain (1960) and Bitches’ Brew (1970), as well as other landmark LPs by jazz greats such as Dave Brubeck and Thelonious Monk.
(10) On April 6, 1968, the soundtrack hit #1 on the US Albums Chart and remained there for seven consecutive weeks. The album that knocked it out of the top spot? Bookends, which enjoyed a three-week run at #1 before The Graduate reclaimed #1 for two more weeks. Bookends would then return to #1 for four additional weeks. In all, Simon & Garfunkel-blessed albums dominated the chart for sixteen weeks in a row, an impressive feat indeed.