The Mad Men series ended over a year ago now, but that show still holds such a special place in my heart. I stayed a true fan up until the very end and was emotionally overjoyed by the perfection of the show’s finale last spring. A large part of my continued commitment to the show was the connection I felt to the show’s characters. But it was the show’s landscape, which really got viewers like me captivated. The era that was recreated to tell the stories of Peggy, Don and Betty was the show’s lead, both as protagonist and antagonist. Mad Men demonstrated that the sixties era was a time of social and political change and there was so much about that period that both drove and halted such change.
The swinging pendulum of that era is reflected in its iconic music. There is just something about music of the sixties that is so fitting for the summer months. The songs just have warmth to them. When you first hear a track, like instinct, your feet immediately start tapping, your hips will sway and you will feel the wave sweep over you. Mad Men did a fantastic job incorporating the era’s music into each episode. In season four’s ‘The Summer Man’, Don Draper walks out onto the sidewalk and lights a cigarette. As he narrates the scene, The Rolling Stones’ ‘I Can’t Get No Satisfaction’ plays in the background. Almost immediately, the song takes over the scene. The scene is so perfectly executed that you as the viewer can’t help but feel what Don is feeling – alive.
Reminiscing over the show, I decided to make my summer playlist 1960s themed. For my entire playlist, you can scroll to the bottom of this blog entry. But, if you would like to join me in a conversation about sixties music, I’ve included thoughts on my top five favorite songs of the period.
#1 What’d I Say – Ray Charles
This song is actually from the end of the 1950s, however I think it provides symbolic foreshadowing for the era to come. The song takes about a minute and a half in length to build, as each instrument is gradually built into the melody. While the instruments of this track are catchy enough on their own, it’s the track vocals that really bring the song to another level. When I first heard the song’s opening line ‘Hey mama don’t you treat me wrong … come and love your daddy all night long,’ I was hooked. The random pauses between each line, gives listeners time to dance to the melody, but also anxiously await for the next line. At the time, the song became an instant pop hit but was also incredibly controversial. The suggestive ‘heeeeey………..ohhhhh’ echoes of the second half of the song was not appreciated by earlier generations. Despite the controversy however, the song remained one of the most popular songs of the time. Going through my playlist, I can’t believe that this song was considered controversial when less than ten years later, ‘Time of the Season’ was released.
#2 I’m Only Sleeping – The Beatles
This song is one of the more sleepy tracks on their album, Revolver. I don’t know if it’s John Lennon’s raspy vocals on this number, or the story it tells, but this song draws you in to the pendulum. The song describes the world as a busy place. With the increasingly fast pace the world is moving, it is easy for one to get discouraged and prefer not to face the day and instead, just stay in bed. An incredible time of opportunity yet so much to leave you disheartened.
#3 Shahdaroba – Roy Orbison
I’ll refer back to Mad Men for this track. The song is featured in the third season’s final episode. One of the scenes that stays with you during the montage around the song is a scene with Betty. She is on a plane with her soon-to-be new husband and her baby. It’s such a sad scene in that she has accepted this new life thinking that it will be perfect, but on the plane you see that perhaps the hasty decisions she made were not the right answer. It reminds me of that final scene in The Graduate. Apart from this scene, the song really stuck with me. The melody and vocals remind me of that early sixties music, that is, the crooning and mellow melodies. And yet, when you listen to the lyrics, they reflect the era so accurately. “Shahdaroba, means the future is much better than the past.” It is a perfect combination of the recent past and what was current.
#4 Good Vibrations – The Beach Boys
I’ll be honest and say that I never really listened to this song in its entirety until last year. I went to see the film Love & Mercy, a movie about the life of Brian Wilson with a complete soundtrack of The Beach Boys and Brian Wilson songs. I remember sitting in the theatre and feeling mesmerized by this man’s life, charm and the struggles he went through. When the song came on, it echoed throughout the entire movie theatre. When the movie was over, I took the train home and couldn’t get the song out of my head. I listened to the song every morning for about two weeks straight thinking I would get sick of it, but every time I heard the opening line I was so excited to hear it once more.
#5 Bonnie And Clyde – Serge Gainsbourg & Brigitte Bardot
When I hear this song, I can’t help but imagine the famous Go Go clubs of the 1960s. The entire song feels like a haze and that’s what pulls you in. While the song is simply a narrated story of the notorious Bonnie and Clyde, the song’s beat and melody is incredibly hypnotic. Whenever I play the track, I imagine psychedelic installations and neon lights.
So that’s my top five. It wasn’t easy to share only five songs from this period. I’ve included my entire playlist below to enjoy. If you are a music lover of previous eras, I also have shared playlists of my favorite 1940s, 1970s and 1980s tracks.
Thanks for stopping by Fanciful Impressions and I hope you can stop by to read my next entry which will be published on Thursday. Stay Groovy!
1960s Summer Music Mix
|What’d I Say (Ray Charles)||You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling
(The Righteous Brothers)
|Magic Carpet Ride (Steppenwolf)||(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction (The Rolling Stones)|
|I’m Only Sleeping (The Beatles)||Good Vibrations (The Beach Boys)|
|Light My Fire (The Doors)||My Girl (The Temptations)|
|You Really Got Me (The Kinks)||You Keep Me Hangin’ On (Vanilla Fudge)|
|Aquarius / Let The Sunshine In (The 5th Dimension)||I Heard It Through the Grapevine (Marvin Gaye)|
|Time of the Season (The Zombies)||Hit The Road Jack (Ray Charles)|
|I Get Around (The Beach Boys)||Oh, Pretty Woman (Roy Orbison)|
|Do Wah Diddy Diddy (Manfred Mann)||I Can’t Help Myself (Four Tops)|
|I Got You Babe (Sonny & Cher)||We Can Work It Out (The Beatles)|
|These Boots Are Made for Walking (Nancy Sinatra)||Respect (Aretha Franklin)|
|Daydream Believer (The Mokees)||Try A Little Tenderness (Otis Redding)|
|Come Together (The Beatles)||Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright (Peter, Paul & Mary)|
|Babylon (Don McLean)||Do You Want to Know a Secret (The Beatles)|
|Shahdaroba (Roy Orbison)||You Only Live Twice (Nancy Sinatra)|
|Scarborough Fair (Simon & Garfunkel)||Let’s Twist Again (Chubby Checker)|
|I’m A Man (The Spencer Davis Group)||California Dreamin’ (The Mamas & The Papas)|
|My Way (Frank Sinatra)||Is That All There Is? (Peggy Lee)|
|Stay (Maurice Williams & The Zodiacs)||Ain’t No Mountain High Enough (Marvin Gaye)|
|Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag (James Brown)||Cry To Me (Solomon Burke)|
|Did She Mention My Name? (Gordon Lightfoot)||Did She Mention My Name? (Gordon Lightfoot|
|The Boxer (Simon & Garfunkel)||Bonnie And Clyde (Serge Gainsbourg & Brigitte Bardot)|