The Graduate Soundtrack

Music review by
Mary Eisenhart, Common Sense Media
The Graduate Soundtrack Music Poster Image
Clever mix of Simon & Garfunkel songs, '60s cocktail music.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this music.

Positive Messages

Messages, along with lyrics, are sparse in this largely instrumental album. The satirical "The Big Bright Green Pleasure Machine" offers a miracle product to take your mind off all your troubles (instead of dealing with them). In "The Sound of Silence," which appears in two versions, a poet works through a struggle and finds inspiration. There's an innocent, wistful romanticism in Art Garfunkel's folky "April Come She Will."

Positive Role Models & Representations

Over the years, countless alienated young people have found a kindred soul in the narrator of "Sound of Silence."


Mild innuendo in "Big Bright Green Pleasure Machine": "Do you sleep alone while others sleep in pairs?" "Are you worried 'cause your girlfriend's just a little late?"

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Graduate Soundtrack contains some era-defining Simon & Garfunkel tracks ("Mrs. Robinson," "The Sound of Silence," "The Big Bright Green Pleasure Machine," "April Come She Will," "Scarborough Fair/Canticle"), mostly in versions specially recorded for the movie, juxtaposed with Dave Grusin's instrumental music that paints the scenery from '60s cocktail party to strip joint. While the coming-of-age sex comedy The Graduate is definitely adult in its storyline, there's not much to worry about in its evocative soundtrack. There's some sexual innuendo in one song ("Big Bright Green Pleasure Machine"), but no real racy content.

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What's the story?

THE GRADUATE SOUNDTRACK expresses the interior conflicts of protagonist Benjamin Braddock (Dustin Hoffman, in his breakthrough role) through the lyrics of Simon & Garfunkel. It pits their songs against the older generation's sleek, seductive, reptilian cocktail-party world (as voiced by the instrumental compositions of Dave Grusin), in which Benjamin feels completely out of his depth. It's a perfect musical snapshot of a moment in history, and also of that moment when young people and their elders are living in parallel universes.

Is it any good?

The Graduate Soundtrack is closely tied to the story it's telling, to the point that Simon & Garfunkel recorded special versions of their tunes, sometimes with different lyrics, for the movie. As such, if you're looking for an introduction to Simon & Garfunkel, the few tunes on this album might not be the most complete place to start, even though they're highly regarded (especially the acoustic version of "Sound of Silence"). (For the better-known version of "Mrs. Robinson," check out Forrest Gump: The Soundtrack.) Bandleader Dave Grusin's atmospheric instrumental tracks paint the sparkly, sleazy musical background of the adult world, from cocktail party to strip club, with a good deal of cleverness. For fans of the movie, the soundtrack will put them right back in that world.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how the Simon & Garfunkel songs and the orchestral tunes reflect the completely different worlds that Benjamin and the adults live in.

  • What do you think "The Sound of Silence" is about? Do you think it has any relevance today?

  • Do you like the style of the instrumental music on this album and the period of movies that feature it?

Music details

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