If you just can't wait another 48 hours for the launch of Mad Men's second season, maybe it would help to listen to the show's new soundtrack CD. Mad Men: Music From The Series Vol. 1 is, like the show itself, a fascinating time capsule from a brief and almost forgotten moment between the grim times of the Depression and World War II on one side, and the wild social upheaval of the 1960s on the other.
Mad Men is, chronologically speaking, set in the 1960s. But a look at the artists on the soundtrack -- Vic Damone, the Andrews Sisters, Rosemary Clooney and Ella Fitzgerald, just to name a few -- makes it clear that these aren't the '60s of Woodstock or Monterey. There are evocations of Broadway (My Fair Lady's On The Street Where You Live, performed by Damone), of Latin jazz (Julie London's bossa-nova beat Fly Me To The Moon), of ring-a-ding lounge lizardry (the McGuire Sisters' rendition of Volare). Even the Greenwich Village coffee house scene gets a nod with Babylon, one of three original pieces by Mad Men musical director David Carbonara included on the soundtrack.
What there's not is rock and roll, the new beat that was still establishing its permanent place on the musical scene in 1960, when Mad Men begins. The only real rock and roll song used during the first season was Chubby Checker's The Twist (which doesn't appear on the soundtrack). The kids buying rock and roll records weren't yet remaking American shopping habits, at least at the high end; they simply weren't part of the world of Don Draper and the rest of Mad Men's advertising executives.
When those kids did get hold of the world, they swept away everything that came before: The only artist on the Mad Men soundtrack who continued to have hits well in the '60s was balladeer Bobby Vinton. But no matter how much you love rock and roll, listening to the Mad Men soundtrack will likely cause you a pang of regret that the cultural destruction was so total. From Ella Fitzgerald's lilting Manhattan to the Andrews Sisters' sweetly melancholy I Can Dream, Can't I, there's a lot to like here. Not that I'm not looking forward to Mad Men's season eight, when Don Draper and the boys drop acid and smash their office furniture as Why Don't We Do It In The Road shrieks from the Muzak speakers.