Tuesday, July 27, 2010

MadMen; The Music of the Era, 1964-65

Episode One, Season Four of Mad Men did what we've come to expect- they did the unexpected. Season Three ended in December 1963 and Season Four's opener found us at Thanksgiving, 1964, and Episode Two leads to Christmastime 1964.

To make a long story short, the obvious thing to have done to start this season would be showing the new Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce advertising firm post JFK, and in the early stages of Beatlemania and the British Invasion....but the writers zagged when we thought they would zig. They avoided the obvious; and that's why they're writers of great teleplays and I'm a lonely ole blogger.

While checking out the queries to this blog about the show there were many searches involving the music on MADMEN, and that of the mid 1960's. So I thought, just for fun, I'd put some songs from 1964-65 on Playlist.com as a sampler of the direction music was going in that era. Previously I've said that dozens of new careers were launched with the arrival of the Beatles in 1964 (some even lasting to this day), but many, many more of the older American acts were killed off by the British Invasion. In this sampler I've included some of the acts that came over from the UK, some of the American survivors, and some Americans who initially copied the look and/or sound of the British acts. There was one notable exception, and there was one act that could not be included on the playlist....and they were the biggest act of them all.

The owners of the Beatles catalog haven't granted permission for use on Playlist.com. So Included above is video footage from one of the most significant events in the history of rock....the Beatles play Shea Stadium in New York, on August 15, 1965. This was the first stadium rock show....ever. And if it looks primitive by today's standards....well, it was. They were trying to invent the wheel. And for the youngin's who may not know; the old guy introducing John, George, Paul, and Ringo was the legendary TV showman and newspaper columnist Ed Sullivan.

On the the playlist you'll find survivors The Beach Boys and Roy Orbison, and one of the last mega-acts to be produced by Phil Spector, The Righteous Brothers. Motown stars The Supremes, The Temptations, and Marvin Gaye started to have their greatest crossover hits in the mid 1960's. The era also saw the arrival of the Rolling Stones, the Who, and the Kinks, who are either still together or have members still actively recording. Bob Dylan shocked the folkies and went electric, feeling their wrath initially, but his change of musical direction was a bellweather for those who followed, among them the Byrds.

Some British groups had staying power, others didn't. The Searchers had a sound that can be heard in bands like Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, The Wallflowers, and REM, and The Nashville Teens were one hit wonders who popularized John Loudermilk's TOBACCO ROAD.....which became the title to Episode One, Season Four of MADMEN.

Also on the list.....The Yardbirds with ace guitarist Jeff Beck; John Mayall's Bluesbreakers (featuring ex Yardbird guitarist Eric Clapton and future Fleetwood Mac bassist John McVie); from Belfast, THEM with the young lead singer Van Morrison; Dusty Springfield, the beautiful soulful blonde from across the pond; also from the UK, the Animals and the first lineup of The Moody Blues, who's lead singer Denny Laine became a longtime member of Paul McCartney's WINGS; The talented one hit wonder (and precursor to Aretha Franklin) Fontella Bass; and the "Godfather of Soul, James Brown.

This playlist will probably be modified and switched around a bit....but I think I'll leave it up for the duration of the series.

Ahhhhhhhhhhhh. What a time it was!

Late Edition Just a few words to the one or two of you who still may think I'm just a crazy left wing blogger who hates all things Republican....not true!

Leading off the Playlist in The Searcher's version of song first recorded by Jackie DeShannon, Needles and Pins.

The song was co-written by legendary music producer Jack Nitsche and a man who later served as a Republican Congressman from California's 44th District from January 3, 1995 until his untimely death in a skiing accident on January 5, 1998.

His name.....Salvatore Phillip Bono, aka "Sonny".

So put THAT in your Tea Bag...and drink it, ice it, put lemon on it, I really don't care.

Update! October 23 The playlist has been changed! To see or listen to the playlist described in this entry, please click here.

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