On This Day in 1968: Simon & Garfunkel’s ‘Bookends’ Become the Duo’s First Studio Album to Top the ‘Billboard’ 200

From early April to late July of 1968, Simon & Garfunkel basically monopolized the top of the Billboard 200 chart. On April 6, the soundtrack to The Graduate, which featured various songs by the folk-rock duo, started a seven-week run at No. 1 on the tally. It was replaced on May 25 by their fourth studio album, Bookends.

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Bookends spent three weeks atop the Billboard 200. The Graduate soundtrack then returned to No. 1 for two more weeks in June. On June 29, Bookends again knocked The Graduate soundtrack from the top of the chart, starting a new four-week run at No. 1. In all, Simon & Garfunkel enjoyed 16 consecutive weeks at the pinnacle of the Billboard 200.

[RELATED: From Simon & Garfunkel to The Bangles: The Evolution of “A Hazy Shade of Winter”]

About Bookends

Side one of Bookends is a themed suite of songs focusing on life’s journey from childhood to old age. Side two features three songs released as singles before the album, as well as the finished version of “Mrs. Robinson,” which appeared in abbreviated form on The Graduate’s soundtrack and in the movie. Bookends also features a few tunes Paul Simon had written for The Graduate but didn’t make it into the film.

The song “Hazy Shade of Winter” had been released as a single in October 1966, and peaked at No. 13 on the Billboard Hot 100. Simon & Garfunkel’s next two singles, “At the Zoo” and “Fakin’ It,” were released, respectively, in February and July 1967. They reached No. 16 and No. 23 on the Hot 100. All three made their album debut on Bookends.

“Mrs. Robinson” was released as a single at the same time as Bookends, and it became the biggest hit from the album. It topped the Hot 100 for three weeks in June of 1968.

Bookends also features the enduring tune “America,” which was inspired by a 1964 road trip Simon had taken with his then-girlfriend Kathy Chitty. In addition, the unique “Voices of Old People,” a montage of audio snippets of elderly people talking that Art Garfunkel recorded at homes for the aged in New Rochelle, New York, and Los Angeles.

More About The Graduate Soundtrack

The soundtrack for Mike Nichols’ acclaimed film The Graduate featured a mix of Simon & Garfunkel songs and instrumental music by jazz artists Dave Grusin. “Mrs. Robinson” was the only new Paul Simon composition featured on the album. It appears in two abbreviated versions.

The other songs by duo on the soundtrack include “The Sound of Silence,” “Scarborough Fair/Canticle,” and “April Come She Will.”

Grammy Honors

At the 1969 Grammy ceremony, Simon & Garfunkel won the Record of the Year and Best Contemporary-Pop Performance by a Vocal Duo or Group awards for “Mrs. Robinson.” Simon and Grusin also took home the Best Original Score Written for a Motion Picture or a Television Special for The Graduate soundtrack.

Bookends Track List:

Side One

  1. “Bookends Theme”
  2. “Save the Life of My Child”
  3. “America”
  4. “Overs”
  5. “Voices of Old People”
  6. “Old Friends”
  7. “Bookends Theme”

Side Two

  1. “Fakin’ It”
  2. “Punky’s Dilemma”
  3. “Mrs. Robinson”
  4. “A Hazy Shade of Winter”
  5. “At the Zoo”

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