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The Music of the Mad Men Era

As we've been talking about all morning, the long-awaited 5th season of the television series, Mad Men, which premieres on AMC this coming Sunday. The show's not-so-long ago but seems-so-long-ago atmosphere is incredibly lush and is made whole through historical plot points and esthetic details. The masterful finishing touch of any theatrical or filmed period production is: the music. The Music of Mad Men is the music of the pre-1970s 20th century. Smokey American standards, bopping sock-hop dance hits, doo-wop, rock and roll and the music of the British invasion. The upbeat romance and peppy naiveté of the songs and their lyrics is often used on Mad Men to emphasize the darkness of the characters' struggle. That’s true of the following songs:

"Volare" – The McGuire Sisters
"PS I Love You" – Bobby Vinton

Love is both celebrated and reveled in – as well as mocked and neglected by the characters on Mad Men. It’s as often discussed as it is eschewed. We commemorate that confusion about expressions of romance with the two following songs:

"I Can Dream, Can’t I" - The Andrews Sisters
"On the Street Where You Live" - Vic Damone

You’re listening to The Roundtable and the music of the Mad Men era. It’s a bit cliché to say that New York City is like a character in stories set inside of the city – we talk about it in relation to Woody Allen movies and the HBO series Sex and the City. Some cliché’s are true, of course, and Manhattan is one of the leading ladies of Mad Men.

"Manhattan" – Ella Fitzgerald

That’s Ella Fitzgerald singing “Manhattan” – all about the buzzing bustle of the city where much of the action of Mad Men takes place. Of course, the main character of the show, Don Draper, spends a fair amount of time out of the city – pursuing accounts – or women - and escaping his past – or his present.

"King of the Road" – Roger Miller
"Coming Home Baby" – Mel Torme

Season 4 of Mad Men wrapped with Don Draper proposing to his secretary – and the audience excitedly anticipates whatever the creative team and cast have cooked up for us this season. We wrap up The Music of Mad men and the Mad Men era with one of my favorite artists, Dusty Springfield.

"I Only Want to be With You" - Dusty Springfield

Sarah has been a public radio producer for over a decade. She grew up in Saranac Lake, New York where she worked part-time at Pendragon Theatre all through high school and college. She graduated from UAlbany in 2006 with a BA in English and started at WAMC a few weeks later as a part-time board-op in the control room. Through a series of offered and seized opportunities she is now the Senior Contributing Producer of The Roundtable and Producer of The Book Show.