Mad Men is nearing its end and with it comes the end of one of the most poignant scores on television. Why? Well it’s the backdrop of some of Don Draper’s most defining moments for starters. The soundtrack’s been every bit as impressive as the series’ haunting portrayal of 1960s Madison Avenue; it has the tendency to jump out due to the reserved nature of the show’s characters, throwing us head first into their troubled minds to give the scenes a sense of higher understanding. Weiner’s deep appreciation for detail captured the 1960s as they were lived and not as an ode to nostalgia. The soundtrack mimics the show’s cultural precision and has the shuffling of Pop, Jazz, Rock and Roll and Psychedelia down to a chronological art, skipping through most of the hits one would associate with the era and focusing instead on laying the perfect framework for life at Sterling Cooper.
15. Dean Martin – Money Burns a Hole In My Pocket (Season 7, episode 11)
The firm is falling apart, and the partners realize that they don’t have the money they used to.
14. Chubby Checker – Let’s Twist Again (Season 2, episode 1)
The season starts with a rock n roll tune to accentuate the power of the youth, as opposed to old-school 36-year-old Draper.
13. Nashville Teens – Tobacco Road (Season 4, episode 1)
Draper is selling SCDP’s image to the Wall Street Journal, and just like the Nashville teens who were actually british, fake-identity Don is playing his ad-man role so perfectly.
12. The Beach Boys – I Just Wasn’t Made For These Times (Season 5, episode 6)
Roger and Jane go on an LSD trip with the help of the Beach Boys, and just like the lyrics of the song state, Sterling’s troubled mind keeps him from fitting into the crowd’s pseudo-intellectual discussions.
11. Serge Gainsbourg and Brigitte Bardot – Bonnie And Clyde (Season 6, episode 4)
Joan picks up a young man and ends up at The Electric Circus, a very popular destination in the 60s, where Serge and Brigitte are playing in the background.
10. The Decemberists – The Infanta (Season 2, episode 6)
One of the very few musical moments on Mad Men where a modern song was played, which makes us wonder: Will Betty, Peggy and Joan defy their era’s sexual norms to find modern alternatives?
9. The Monkees – Porpoise Song (Season 6, episode 12)
Just like Don falls in slow motion in the opening sequence, The Monkees commit suicide by jumping off a bridge in this song.
8. Simon and Garfunkel – Bleecker Street (Season 4, episode 7)
Don and Peggy pull an all-nighter in this classic episode, while Simon and Garfunkel sing one of their lesser known, yet very sad songs.
“Somebody very important to me died, the only person in the world who really knew me.” – Don Draper
7. The Zombies – This Will Be Our Year (Season 7, episode 2)
A very emotional “I love you” from Sally to Don, which makes us think that Don could maybe be making a progress, while realizing how important his daughter is to him.
6. Gillian Hills – Zou Bisou Bisou (Season 5, episode 1)
Paré’s sexy rendition of Gillian Hill’s tune left not only her husband’s 40th birthday party guests mesmerized, but also everyone who watched that episode.
5. The Lovin’ Spoonful – Butchie’s Tune (Season 5, episode 12)
“If you could do anything, what would you do?”
With a heart-wrenchingly appropriate song after Lane Price’s death, Don lets Glenn drive his car with The Lovin’ Spoonful playing in the background.
4. Bob Dylan – Don’t think twice it’s alright (Season 1, episode 13)
Don takes the train to join his family for thanksgiving, only to return home to an empty house. He sits on the staircase, feeling guilty, he wants his life to get better, but it’s not, and there ain’t no use to sit and wonder why..
3. Peggy Lee – Is That All There Is? (Season 7, episode 8)
The song that was meant for Mad Men, the most inevitable musical moment, the most Mad Men-ish song of all songs on Mad Men. With the beginning of the end of an era, we can’t help but wonder: is that all there is to the end of Mad Men?
2. David Bowie – Space Oddity (Season 7, episode 12)
Like Major Tom, Don cuts himself loose and goes on the road into a lost horizon; with a vision of Cooper asking him, in the most Kerouacian way possible, “Wither goest thou, America, in thy shiny car in the night?”
1. The Beatles – Tomorrow Never Knows (Season 5, episode 8)
Megan offers Don a copy of Revolver, he then contemplates Tomorrow Never Knows for a few moments, gets puzzled, shuts it off, and goes to bed; which underlines that Draper is totally out of touch with youth culture.
The usage of that song did not come cheap ($250,000 for the publishing rights), but as Weiner said: “The Beatles are the band of the century, the show would lack a certain authenticity without them”.