Three episodes into Season 4 of MadMen, I’ve lately been reminded of the stellar contribution David Carbonara’s music has made to this series. As sublime to listen to as MadMen has been to watch, I was compelled to buy the original score album (left) on hearing Rimsky-Korsakov’s ‘Song Of India’ masterfully woven into the scene where Betty descends the Savoy Hotel staircase to meet Don for cocktails on Valentine’s Day (Season 2, episode 1: For Those Who Think Young).
Whilst the whole compilation hangs together very well, standout tracks include ‘The New Girl’ suite (playful hints of Martin Denny), ‘Betty’s Ride’ with its gently undulating bossa nova, so right for 1962, and the Mancini-esque ‘How Many Get Sable’ with its nod to an era of Holly Golightly haute coifs and Haute Couture. The haunting ‘I’m Not Going To Fight’ and ‘The Carousel’ encapsulate the series’ darker side with subtle melancholy, like the sun’s fading rays permeating an empty room on a winter’s afternoon.
This has now all-but toppled Rolfe Kent’s superb Sideways soundtrack from No.1 in my top five “music-to-work-by” collection. Top marks, too, for the superb selection of period savvy tracks which have found their way into the series (and onto assorted companion releases), in particular the little-heard Pentagons’ track ‘I’m In Love’ (spookily never a hit) which can be heard emanating from the radio in Don’s brand new ’62 Caddy as he and Betty picnic with the children on a Sunday afternoon (Season 2, episode 7: The Gold Violin). “We should only do this…” I hear you, Don, I hear you. Just remember to take your litter home with you next time.