Music has always been a key part of Mad Men, and with Season Four jumping to 1964 — a watershed year for rock and Motown — Rolling Stone compiled a playlist of songs that could easily soundtrack Don Draper’s dramas. Read Rob Sheffield’s take on the new season while kicking back to these tracks:
“It Ain’t Me Babe” — Bob Dylan
On the Another Side of Bob Dylan closer, the singer spurns a lover looking for more than a quick fling. “I’m not the one you want, babe/I will only let you down,” Dylan sings, a line tailor-made for the philandering Don Draper.
The perfect soundtrack for: Don and Betty’s first post-divorce tryst.
“I Saw Her Standing There” — The Beatles
A song about a not-quite-legal love interest — “She was just 17, you know what I mean,” sings McCartney — to which the cradle-robbing Roger Sterling could surely relate.
The perfect soundtrack for: An awkward scene where Roger tries to integrate Jane, his preposterously young wife, into the rigid hierarchies of Manhattan social life.
“You Really Got Me” — The Kinks
Louder and brasher than anything yet written by the Beatles or the Stones, “You Really Got Me” was a herald of hard rock to come. It’s also the quintessential anthem of lust at first sight, something the ad men at Don’s agency are not strangers to.
The perfect soundtrack for: Any scene where Joan turns every head in the office. In slo-mo.
“I Get Around” — The Beach Boys
A thinly disguised ode to the joys of promiscuity, “I Get Around” finds the Beach Boys bragging, “We always take my car ’cause it’s never been beat/and we’ve never missed yet with the girls we meet.” The song is also a wake-up call for anyone who thinks the sexual revolution didn’t get its proper start until later in the decade — just like Mad Men.
The perfect soundtrack for: A feminine role reversal. Think Peggy in a dancehall, seducing a cute stranger.
“A Change Is Gonna Come” — Sam Cooke
An oft-covered, indisputably brilliant, righteously soulful recording, “A Change is Gonna Come” was released after Cooke’s death and became an anthem of the Civil Rights movement, which is a frequent subtext and topic of conversation on the show.
The perfect soundtrack for: A montage of cardigan-clad progressive Paul Kinsey, sulking after being passed over by Don at the new agency in favor of Peggy, before deciding to leave office life behind and become a full-time activist.
“Where Did Our Love Go” — The Supremes
The Supremes had a big year in 1964, taking over the world with a combination of stellar songwriting, killer fashion sense, and, of course, Diana Ross’ legendary pipes. “I’ve got this yearning, burning/Yearning feelin’ inside me… And it hurts so bad,” Ross sings, a sentiment that captures Sal’s identity crisis in Season Three.
The perfect soundtrack for: Sal’s surprise comeback! (Fingers crossed.)
“House of the Rising Sun” — The Animals
“House of the Rising Sun” was a folk standard until the Animals added a haunting guitar lick, ecstatic organ line and propulsive drumbeat. A tale of a man who wastes away his life in a house of ill repute, the song encapsulates Don’s personal troubles navigating single life.
The perfect soundtrack for: A scene of Don in his bachelor pad, Canadian Club in hand, after failing to romance a young woman from the escort service he uses.
“Oh, Pretty Woman” — Roy Orbison
If you think this song is a joke, there are two things you should do: blame Julia Roberts, and listen again. Orbison neatly integrates a clean, catchy guitar lick with a deep, soothing vocal line that stays true to his country roots. Ogling has never been so classy.
The perfect soundtrack for: Yet another burlesque show schmoozefest led by the indefatigably horny Pete Campbell.
“Keep On Pushing” — The Impressions
This never-say-die ballad by Curtis Mayfield’s first band is dedicated to hustlers and underdogs, which Don and his cohorts can firmly count themselves among after jumping from a major agency to an upstart.
The perfect soundtrack for: the scene where Don lands his first major account with another masterful sermon on the art of advertising.
“Heart of Stone” — The Rolling Stones
Narrated by a modern-day Don Juan who can’t find love, “Heart of Stone” was one of the first Jagger and Richards-penned singles released by the Stones. “There’ve been so many girls that I’ve known/I’ve made so many cry and still I wonder why,” Jagger croons, a line that hints at the mysterious Mr. Draper’s undeniable charisma and tortured past.
The perfect soundtrack for: A shot of Don, in a gray flannel suit, striding dismissively past the hippies and beatniks of Greenwich Village, his new home.