Sunday, May 06, 2012

Mad Men "Lady Lazarus": Tomorrow Never Knows

Pete Campbell (Vincent Kartheiser)
"When did music become so important?"

Just how much of Mad Men's budget went toward licensing The Beatles' "Tomorrow Never Knows," which helped end "Lady Lazarus"?* As pointed out several times in the episode, getting a Beatles' song licensed is pretty much out of reach, and times haven't changed much at all in that regard. So it was interesting to see a song finally put to use.

*UPDATE: FORBES reports the total amounted to a cool quarter million dollars.

Interesting that Megan told Don to start with the closing track on Revolver, as I'd think that would be the worst place to start at that time. But since Don wants a crash course in "what's now," the choice works. And in the context of a song choice for the episode, it works as well, backing Pete's visual rendezvous with his commute buddy's wife. The condensation heart was a nice touch. Between the droning single chord, backwards guitars and sitar, "Tomorrow Never Knows" helps cement the more radical cultural movement happening during season 5. The song, like Roger's new outlook, came as the first result of a Beatle taking LSD. John Lennon followed instructions from The Psychedelic Experience: A Manual Based on the Tibetan Book of the Dead, even borrowing a line from the book, specifically from the line "When in doubt, relax, turn off your mind, float downstream". Can you blame Matt Weiner for bringing back the song in the closing credits? I mean, you've already shelled out the cash, might as well try and get your money's worth.

Not sure the song did anything for Don, who's playing catch up, like he did with poetry and French New Wave cinema a season prior. Funny that a song from 1937 (The Wedgewoods' "September in the Rain") could fool Don into thinking it was The Beatles. Music really is his blind spot.

Playlist: Mad Men Season 5 (so far) (Episode 5.08 listing below)
1. "September in the Rain" - The Wedgewoods
2. "Tomorrow Never Knows" - The Beatles [iTunes]

Previously: "Faraway Places" (Episode 5.06)

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