Mad Men is gone, but the Music lives on

~posted by Frank

There’s so much to miss about Mad Men. Multi-dimensional characters. Deliberate pacing. Cryptic dialogue. Glamorous production. Perspectives on the 1960s. Smoking and drinking. And, the music. Although much of the music was limited to the closing credits, they often captured the essence of the episode, and introduced me to some great music from the 1960s and before that I wouldn’t have known about any other way. Here are seven great songs from each of Mad Men’s seven seasons that you can listen to in Freegal or hoopla, right now. Warning: spoilers ahead. 

Season 1. “I Can Dream, Can’t I?” by the Andrews Sisters. From one of the first episodes, we hear it being played as Peggy, an entry-level secretary, is being sized up by the men of Sterling Cooper. Best line: “I’m aware / My heart is a sad affair /There’s much disillusion there /But I can dream, can’t I?”

Season 2. Cup of Loneliness by George Jones. At the end of an episode where Don considers staying in California to live life as Dick Whitman, Joan is sexually assaulted by her fiance and Pete loses his father-in-law’s account, the verse “Were you ever in the valley / When the way is dark and dim? /Did you ever drink the cup /Of loneliness with Him?” is more than apt.

Season 3. “Shahdaroba” by Roy Orbison. The final episode of the season finds Don, Roger and Bert plotting to buy the firm from McCann Erickson with help from Lane, but Don’s good news is blunted when Betty asks for a divorce. When Orbison sings “So when tears flow /And you don’t know /What on earth to do /And your world is blue /When your dream dies /And your heart cries / Shahdaroba / Fate knows what’s best for you” it sounds like it was written just for Don.

Season 4. “Trust in Me” by Etta James. Now that they have their own firm, SCDP, they are struggling to attract new clients, so Don goes out on a limb and does something big and bold. Meanwhile, both Betty and Sally struggle with issues of trust. Enter Ms. James: “Stand beside me, stand beside me all the while / Come on daddy face the future, why don’t you smile? / Trust in me and I’ll be worthy of you.”

Season 5. “Zou Bisou Bisou” by Gillian Hills. The fifth season opens with Megan, Don’s new wife (and former secretary) singing this coquettish French number at a surprise birthday party for Don. The original track is fantastic, but the clip from the show must be viewed for Don’s reaction as much as for Megan’s performance (see above).

Season 6. “Just a Gigolo” by Bing Crosby. Pete’s latest affair gets him kicked out of his house by Trudy, while Don continues his affair with Sylvia even as he and Megan become friends with Sylvia and her husband Arnold. Don’t think about David Lee Roth’s version, for you must hear Bing Crosby sing “Just a gigolo, everywhere I go /People know the part I’m playing / Paid for every dance / Selling each romance / Every night some heart betraying.”

Season 7. “You Keep Me Hangin’ On” by Vanilla Fudge. In the final moments of the first episode of the last season, we find Don and Peggy at crossroads. Don sits on the cold balcony of his apartment after learning of his fate at SCDP, while Peggy’s realization that personal and professional life is not what she expected causes her to break down. It’s their relationship with their jobs that are echoed in the lines: “Why do you keep comin’ around /Playing with my heart? / Why don’t you get out of my life /When seeing you only breaks my heart again?”

So long, Mad Men.


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