The Lemonheads/Simon and Garfunkel: “Mrs. Robinson”
I’m not going to get into it today, really, but I’d just like to start off here by saying that, despite what ended up happening with lead Lemonhead Evan Dando back in the ’90s, where for a brief moment he was the indie golden boy but then crashed and burned with drug problems, Dando was one of that decade’s best songwriters. He made writing laconic yet insightful and clever songs seem ridiculously easy, but there are few others who could have done it as well as he did. Not to mention that he had (and still has, when he occasionally releases new material) a natural knack for melody. Nearly any of Dando’s songs could be stripped down to his voice and guitar and would sound as good (if not better) than they did with a full band.
But today we’re here for Cover Friday, and the Lemonheads’ well-done update of Simon and Garfunkel’s “Mrs. Robinson,” their famous theme from The Graduate. (The Lemonheads’ version was recorded and released as a single to promote the 1993 video release of that movie.) It’s one of S&G’s best moments (and as a fan of most of their music, that’s saying something), and for the Lemonheads to even take it on might have been considered a bad move, since there are some songs that just don’t seem to be capable of being improved upon. And honestly, they didn’t improve upon it, per se — I still prefer the original — but they certainly did a nice job of speeding it up and making it rock. Dando’s voice was a big factor in making it work, as he didn’t try to oversing it — he kept the mood about the same despite the change in instrumental setting.
It was a risky move, but they pulled it off. Unfortunately, like Los Lobos doing their cover of “La Bamba,” it also happened to turn into one of the songs they’re best known for, which as I indicated at the beginning of this post, is certainly not what they deserve. Consider this a jumping off point for getting to know the Lemonheads, if you don’t happen to be familiar with more of their music, but by no means should you think that you know them if you only know this song. Go check out It’s a Shame About Ray, for starters (their great album that this cover of “Mrs. Robinson” later got tacked onto)…but if you don’t get to it for a while, you’ll probably come across me posting a song from it here somewhere down the road.