The Lemonheads, ‘Mrs. Robinson’ – Terrible Classic Rock Covers
One of the brightest, catchiest albums of the alt-rock ’90s, the Lemonheads’ ‘It’s a Shame About Ray,’ came out in 1992. It spawned a pair of Modern Rock Top 10 songs in the title track (which went to No. 5) and an amped-up cover of Simon & Garfunkel’s super-popular ‘Mrs. Robinson’ (which hit No. 8).
The Paul Simon-penned ‘Mrs. Robinson’ originally surfaced on the soundtrack of the classic movie ‘The Graduate’ in 1967 -- actually only about a minute of it did: just the doo-doo-doo-doo/dee-dee-dee-dee harmonies and slightly different lyrics. It was then released as a single from the duo's ‘Bookends’ album in 1968, when it reached No. 1 and eventually won a Grammy for Record of the Year.
There’s quite a bit of history involved with the song -- and we’d argue that it’s right up there with some of the most iconic Beatles and Rolling Stones material from the day. It’s that great. So if someone's gonna cover it, they should not only do it justice (whatever their spin may be), but also respect its greatness.
There are two problems with the Lemonheads' version of ‘Mrs. Robinson’: First, it deviates little from the original and is just a sped-up, less-interesting version of the original; second, it’s very ‘90s -- distortion pedals in all the right places, sung with a little too much (possibly drug-induced, given the group's history) energy. It leaves us scratching our heads as to why such a great band would make such a meh cover. And it's sort of sad reading interviews like this one, where frontman Evan Dando lays into Simon and the song.
To the band’s credit, the bass line that replaces the timeless classical guitar riff is pretty cool. But one cool bass line isn't enough to redeem this Terrible Classic Rock Cover.
Listen to Simon & Garfunkel’s ‘Mrs. Robinson’