'Mad Men' Music: 'Both Sides Now'

Monday, 24 June 2013 06:17 AM Written by 

November, 1968. Sterling Cooper & Partners have collectively told Don Draper to take time off and mend his errant and erratic ways, with no return date. As he leaves, he encounters longtime adversary-turned-corporate headhunter Duck Phillips taking a possible replacement into the SC&P offices. Megan is also ready to can him.  Pete's mother is swept overboard and the oily, conniving Bob Benson has worked his way into Joan's life and major control on the Chevy account.  Peggy loses Ted Chaough to his wife and kids and to California. Bob's success with Chevy came after he made sure Pete crapped his pants in Detroit (much as Don did in the meeting with Hershey's). 

But in the end, Don makes his first steps to admitting who he is: with his kids, including the troubled Sally, who witnessed firsthand her daddy's inability to keep his pants up.  He takes the kids to the dilapidated, falling-apart Pennsylvania whorehouse where he endured his awful childhood. It could be his first steps to permanent redemption. Maybe.

And at the end: a song that was heading for the Top Ten (peak position # 8 in Billboard) at that very moment: Judy Collins's Grammy-winning rendition of Joni Mitchell's "Both Sides Now,"  the biggest hit the veteran folkie had in her entire career.  It's a standard today, but back in those days Mitchell was known only to the musical cognoscenti.  The Grammy was for "Best Folk Performance."   It's been recorded many times since.  And frankly, it was the perfect song to close out Season Six.

Oh, and by the way, the bit about Hershey's not advertising was true in 1968. They wouldn't actually begin that until 1969, a vestige of founder Milton Hershey's belief that ad campaigns weren't necessary. That viewpoint is unbelievable by today's standards, but it's also an indicator of the high standards of the show's research.  If you're interested, this explains it better.

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