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Music for Mad Men: Music from the TV Series

Written By: Joe Lamere

04/17/2013

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Mad Men is lauded for its historically accurate portrayal of the advertising industry of the 1960’s. The same can be said of the music featured on the show. The music of Mad men is used to great effect at the end of each episode, in which the show either fades to black or uses what is known as a smash cut; featuring music from the era. In addition to the music, Mad Men is notable for featuring a rarity; that of obtaining licensing rights to a Beatles song. The song, “Tomorrow Never Knows”, is used in one of the more well-known episodes, lending its powerful psychedelic feel to the show.

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The recording “Mad Men: A Musical Companion” runs the gamut from the cool, latino-lounge sound of Stan Getz’ classic “Desafinado” to more straight ahead AM radio pop hits of the period, most notably Sonny & Cher’s “I Got You Babe”. There’s the campy, yet cool swinging Tom Jones track “It’s Not Unusual” which really gives a sense of the time period. The range of music on the Mad Men Musical Companion is quite astounding, as many genres of music are covered (as is true with the show). There’s the late 50’s early rock tune “Hey Baby” by Bruce Channel and the Roger Miller down and out country classic “King of the Road”.

One slight mis-step may be the inclusion of Joe Harnell’s performance of “Fly Me to the Moon”. The definitive Frank Sinatra recording of this tune should have been used. There’s also the jazzy, upbeat Mel Torme number “Comin’ Home Baby, and the exotic lounge-jazz of Billy Vaughn’s “A Swingin’ Safari” One of the tracks that really was made for the show, and which suits the main character Don Draper so well is Ricky Nelson’s “Travelin’ Man”.

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Although the “Mad Men: A Musical Companion” recording really shows the variety and depth of the music on the show, The “Mad Men: Music From The Series” also contains some gems. Although stylistically similar to the musical companion, it eschews pop hits in favor of more swing, jazz and big band tracks, as noted by the inclusion of artists such as Ella Fitzgerald, Julie London and Duke Ellington. Interspersed with these tracks is music from composer David Carbonera. He wrote much of the original score that is heard on the show, and his compositions are excellent modern updates of the sound of the mid 60’s, with some of the music containing a dramatic flair. The Original Soundtrack also includes the haunting new composition “A Beautiful Mine” by Aceyalone and RJD2. This track has been used to great effect on the show.

So, mix up the cocktail of your choice (Shaken or Stirred) and groove to the sounds of the early to mid 60’s. This music will take you right back to a time when the cut-throat world of big-city advertising was at its peak.

About the Author: Joe Lamere has been a music fan since hearing his first Beatles song at the age of 6. He is our resident music reviewer.  In his spare time he play bass with national touring musician Chris Wilhelm, and has also appeared as a free lance musician on many studio recordings.