Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The British Invasion comes to "Mad Men"

Last Sunday, shortly before 10 PM, my roommate put on the Rolling Stones' "Paint It Black" and began to fold her laundry. Since I can't resist the '60s Stones, I came into her room and we had an impromptu dance party. After "Paint It Black" we listened to "Sympathy for the Devil," hoo-hooing in harmony.

10 PM, that is, the start of the new season of Mad Men, was drawing nearer, and we had time for just one more song. (I am a Mad Men devotee; my roommate had never seen it but was curious to check it out.) "In that case," I said, "we have GOT to listen to 'Satisfaction.'"

For what could be more appropriate? It occurred to me a few months ago that "Satisfaction" is like the theme song of Mad Men. Isn't the show about people in the '60s who all, for various reasons, can't get no satisfaction? Not to mention Mick Jagger's anti-advertising rant: "When I'm watching my TV / And the man comes on to tell me / How white my shirts can be / But he can't be a man 'cause he doesn't smoke / The same cigarettes as me"--doesn't that just reinforce the Mad Men theme?

Season 3 of Mad Men ended in December 1963. Privately, I thought it would be amazing if Season 4 jumped ahead to the summer of 1965, when "Satisfaction" was the big hit song (according to my father, it "played all up and down the New Jersey shore"), and the first thing we heard in the new season was the Stones' vamping guitars and sneering vocals. More than anything else, this would signal that the angst and rebellion so commonly associated with the '60s had come crashing upon the scene. Totally visceral, totally rock-and-roll.

As it turns out, Season 4 begins in November 1964, too early for "Satisfaction." But I wouldn't be surprised if the song turns up in a later episode this season (although perhaps that's too predictable for Matthew Weiner and co.?). Furthermore, I loved how this week's episode ended with a more obscure British Invasion song playing over the end credits: "Tobacco Road" by the Nashville Teens. While I wasn't familiar with the song, I instantly recognized it as having that distinctive British Invasion sound. It was like a whole new sonic world had suddenly opened up.

So watching Mad Men has helped me understand just why the Beatles and the Stones and the other British Invasion bands had the impact that they did--they truly brought a new musical style across the pond. It also helps me understand why "Satisfaction" became such a big hit: it's not only due to the catchy guitar riff. Its lyrics really struck a nerve!

5 comments:

家唐銘 said...
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Dr.J said...

Dutch-British invasion comes to MadMen. Just read that Unilever will sponsor not only the ads between the episodes but will product-place a lot of their brands: Dove for a start, as "real" clients for the plots.
My favourite publicity TV series is of course Bewitched! whose jingle I still sing sometimes on the bath, and the gorgeous Agnes Moorehead as Samanthas´s mother... did you know she was a visitor of Balearic Islands in the 50´s along with George Sanders and Erol Flynn?

Mad Men Girl said...
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john said...

It was finally featured in tonight's episode. Was checking the release date and came across your blog. Welcome to summer of '65.

Marissa said...

Ooh, excellent! Looking forward to tonight's episode even more now! (I'm on the West Coast so I have to wait another hour and a half...)