Like most twenty-somethings with a television set, I’m a huge fan of Mad Men. There’s really nothing to not like about the series – it has a cast full of handsome men wearing well-tailored suits, there’s copious day drinking, plenty of workplace coitus and it’s the best written drama on television right now. I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know.
While I have some opinions on last night’s episode (was the return of Betty Draper Francis unnecessary – discuss amongst yourselves), I’ve still been obsessing on the episode from two weeks past, where the creative types at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce are working on a campaign that’s a spin on A Hard Day’s Night. The clients want something Beatles-esque to tap into the ever-growing Beatles fervor of the 1960s. While (my imaginary television boyfriend) Stan Rizzo suggests The Zombies, Don Draper decides to defer to his young new wife, Megan, who bring him the latest Beatles album to listen to. That album is Revolver, one of the group’s most pivotal releases.
I remember the first time I consciously sought out a Beatles album. I don’t remember the first time I heard a Beatles song or even talked to my parents about them but when I was 12 years old, we were gearing up for a family road trip and Post-Collegiate Dad took me on a late night trip to a local bookstore that also sold used cassettes and records. I had told him that I really wanted a “new to me” Beatles album to listen to in my new Walkman for the trip. After searching through what felt like hundreds of Beatles tapes, I settled on Magical Mystery Tour. I was instantly hooked – I don’t think I listened to anything but that tape on the two-day drive. That following Christmas, I received a vinyl copy of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and I was officially obsessed. I thought they would be my favorite band of all time.
Of course, that isn’t exactly how it played out. Like many a teenager before me, I soon traded in my Beatles favorites for newly acquired re-releases of Sticky Fingers and Exile on Main Street. High school brought with it The Doors and my first experiences with Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin. By the time I reached college, my favorite album from the 1960s was not from the Beatles but rather, The Velvet Underground & Nico. The Beatles became this band that I appreciated but who felt out of place in my adult music collection, until two weeks ago.
On Mad Men, Megan gives Don a copy of the newly-released Revolver, imploring him to listen to the last track first. That track – “Tomorrow Never Knows” – marks the Beatles first real break away from their old sound and the expansion of pop music into psychedelia. After hearing the LSD-inspired track close out the episode (spoiler alert: it wasn’t to Don Draper’s tastes), I decided to download Revolver and give it a second chance. It never resonated much with me in my youth, outside of the delightful silliness of “Yellow Submarine” and the serene sadness of “Eleanor Rigby“. Maybe it’s just indicative of my youthful naivete or a reflection of where I am in my life right now, but this time around, I listened to Revolver straight through four or five times in the span of two days. Unlike Don, the shifting sound of The Beatles and the expansion of their music into deeper psychological themes is exactly what I need to hear right now.
Given that I’ve been immersed in the album for the last two weeks, it was hard to pick the perfect song for Music Monday, so I’ve decided that, given my lack of regular music posts in the last month, I’d just give in and choose two songs. Both represent the best of Revolver to me – rollicking guitar medleys, the introduction of brass into the backing sound, and lyrics that speak to our expanding consciousness and the need to make and break connections with others and the world around us.
And Your Bird Can Sing
Got To Get You Into My Life