What' On Your Playlist, Don Draper?

After a long and hard day at work, Don Draper needs to relax. He boards his train on the way home and finds an open seat. What is the best way to quickly relieve stress? Listening to music! Draper reaches into his pocket and pulls out his shiny brand new iPod, nestles his headphones in his ears, closes his eyes, and hits play. What is he listening to?

Although this scenario would never actually occur in Mad Men, we can now know what Don Draper and the other characters of the show would be listening to on their iPods if they were around today. The creators and producers of the show have teamed up with iTunes to provide a mini playlist for some of the major characters. Each playlist includes five songs that the characters would have been listening to. Let’s take a look at Don’s playlist, along with an excerpt from each song that connects to his character:

1. "Misery," Barrett Strong

My eyes swell up, it’s such a shame
I lost my girl and I’m the one to blame

If the finale of Season 1 were to last a couple minutes longer, I could just imagine Don getting up off the stairs and throwing some Barrett Strong in the record player. He is upset that Betty and the kids are gone, and he realizes that he deserves the blame for not being a good family man.

2. "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes," The Platters

They said someday you'll find
All who love are blind
Oh, when your heart's on fire
You must realize
Smoke gets in your eyes

The title of the very first episode of Mad Men shares its name with this song. While the song’s overt meaning is about love, perhaps the creators of the show chose it based on a secondary interpretation. When watching a new show for the first time, it is natural to “fall in love” with the protagonist. At first, Don appears to be a model businessman. This song could serve as a reminder that your first impression of someone could be distorted.

3. "Late Freight," Dave Hamilton

This song doesn’t have any lyrics, but the tone of the bells matches Don’s personality perfectly. Just listening to it makes you think of a mysterious man, well-dressed in a suit and matching hat.

4. "The Big Wheel," Howard Crockett

You were born a poor man then you got to be a rich man then you wound up a poor
man again
Now they’re rollin’ you back across that track big wheel
The lights are gonna shine across that track tonight

This song seems to tie into the scene where Don sits by the railroad track watching the trains go by. The first line outlines his life; he becomes a rich man only to realize he doesn’t really have much in terms of happiness. The track could be a metaphor for the divide between rich and poor. The lights are always shining across the track – in other words, people assume being prosperous and having a family is all you can ask for, but when you get there you realize “this is it.”

5. "More," Kai Winding & Claus Ogerman

Here is another song with no lyrics, but it still says something about Don. The tune is a sad one, and we can gather some meaning from the title. The previous song communicated Don’s discontent with his current place in life. He is searching for something more. We don’t really know what it is that he wants, and I don’t think he knows either. All he knows is that there has to be something more to life than this.

Analyzing the songs chosen for Don’s playlist shows that the creators put some thought into their selections. They did a good job coming up with songs that portray his character through music.

To view the Mad Men playlists on iTunes, click here: http://itunes.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewRoom?fcId=337755403&id=14344

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