It’s been referred to as the end of an era (and if you’ve been hooked since AMC first aired the pilot episode, it may very well feel that way) but for better or worse, the series of finale of Mad Men aired last Sunday.
No more furtive glances, no more brooding, no more Don and Peggy
But! You don’t need to binge watch, season after season, trying desperately to hold tight to what you’d hoped would never end. What really drew me into Mad Men initially, and what has kept my attention for seven seasons now, is its timeless MUSIC. This playlist is designed to help you float through two decades of suits & civil rights, Jackie’s & Marilyn’s, and ad copy & Canadian Club.
RJD2 – A Beautiful Mine
The song that started it all! RJD2 (Ramble Jon Krohn) is one of the most talented Hip Hop producers and DJ’s that I’ve come across in the last few years, working with acts such as Aesop Rock, Mos Def and MF Doom (as Viktor Vaughn) and I’m not ashamed to say that only discovered him because of Mad Men.
—–Further Listening: Miles Davis – Blue in Green
Ella Fitzgerald – Manhattan
Is there any other voice that captures an entire decade like Ella Fitzgerald’s. Every note sends you back further and further in that dreamland of old 1950’s New York where Jazz spilled out of the nightclubs and no one left home without a hat.
—–Further Listening: Dusty Springfield – You Don’t Have to Say you Love Me
Bobby Helms – My Special Angel
A staple of any “Soda-Pop Shop Compilation” you’ll find online or in a Best Buy CD Bin, Bobby Helms belts out the feelings of every teenager across the country. Of course, we’ll always remember him as the man that wrote the coolest Christmas song of all time…”Jingle Bell Rock”!
——Further Listening: The Crystals – He Hit Me (And it Felt like a Kiss)
Bob Dylan – Don’t Think Twice (It’s Alright)
This is, hands down, my favourite Bob Dylan song but watching the finale of Season 1 made me feel that I never actually felt the weight of those lyrics until I saw them through Don Draper’s eyes as he sat on the bottom step of his staircase, asking himself if the idea of a family was something he would only ever be able to sell, and not something he could have.
—–Further Listening: The Decemberists – The Infanta
The Nashville Teens – Tobacco Road
Maybe you’re more familiar with the David Lee Roth cover (shame on you…) but this song made it’s home in the Mad Men oeuvre with my favourite music cue in television history. Season 4, episode 1 – a one legged reporter, ad executive and six teenagers that were really onto something with that racket they were making.
——Further LIstening: The Kinks – You Really Got Me
Peter, Paul, and Mary – Early in the Morning
Often overshadowed by The Mamas and the Papas (for some strange reason), Peter, Paul and Mary were a folk force to be reckoned with. You may not know it now, but when you think 1960’s folk, with the exception of guys like Bob Dylan, you’re probably thinking of this band, and if it’s good enough for Colin Hanks, it’s good enough for me.
——Further Listening: Simon and Garfunkel – Bleecker Street
The Beatles – Tomorrow Never Knows
The infamous track that cost $250,000 and I’ll admit…..totally worth it! That moment, panning across Manhattan while Peggy worked deep into the night, Roger staring out a window…naked….and Don, sitting in his modern apartment drinking an old fashioned, trying desperately to understand where the world is headed and what his place in it is.
——Further Listening: Nancy Sinatra – You Only Live Twice
The Who – Heinz Baked Beans
Because, why not? Is it widely regarded as a quintessential Who track? Most definitely not, but Heinz Baked Beans had such a large role in several story arcs over the years that I’d be remiss not to at least include it…And I’ve always had a soft spot for the the cover art of The Who Sells Out.
—–Further Listening: Mitch Ryder & The Detroit Wheels – Baby Jane (Mo-Mo Jane)
Frank Sinatra – My Way
Sure, this Sinatra classic is a great selection for a show built on characters assessing their lives and dealing with regrets, or blazing a trail against all odds and adversity but in the same way Quentin Tarantino’s Resevoir Dogs changed Stealers Wheel for an entire generation, Peggy and Don slow dancing in the office late at night has changed Frank Sinatra for me and hopefully, you too.
—–Further Listening: Judy Collins – Both Sides Now
Ann Margret – Bye Bye Birdie
A simple intro to a popular 1963 film that has played out as a strong metaphor to not only Don and Betty’s relationship, but also Don’s inability to find solace in the ever-shifting foundation of a life he has tried to build for himself. A fitting swan song for all Mad Men fans as we prepare to say goodbye, but it’s that pang you feel just at the thought of it’s departure that reminds you how much you’ve enjoyed the series. Guess I’ll always care!
——Further Listening: Jessica Pare – Zou Bisou Bisou