“On A Carousel”, the Hollies
The Monolith, Season 7 Episode 4
“On A Carousel” is a jaunty tune by the Hollies, a tragically overlooked Sixties pop band from Britain. Closing an episode which features Don’s return to the workforce, it was probably chosen for its lyrics. They blatantly evoke his Carousel speech (maybe the highest point of his career thus far) while being guilelessly optimistic, a fresh and powerful tone the series only used every once in a while. Everyone is trying to go back to the normal order of things in this hour, which is one impetus for Don to “do the work” instead of descending into boozy self-destruction yet again. In fact, the track can be taken as a detached, macro-level perspective on all the changes, repetition and loss of Mad Men, just when the series was beginning to taper off. From a distance, this show is just a bunch of unfortunate figures vying for position, going in circles and trying to break free, thinking this time they might be able to get off the ride. It’s quite beautiful and nostalgic, and a pleasant place to end this musical journey.
As you may be able to tell, I quickly became enamored with ending songs on Mad Men, looking forward to the next one and what it would reveal about its episode, hoping for retro tunes I knew to be re-contextualized in a new and clever format. So by the end of the series, I was listening to Sixties music with this show in mind, considering the tracks I would have picked to close out different installments. They would have to be by a significant group, and say something thematically relevant in an appropriate tone, while originating from a chronologically accurate period. So here are a few alternative choices. Feel free to look them up at your leisure.
“Angel Of the Morning”, Merrilee Rush, Collaborators
“The Seeker”, the Who, Person To Person
“Somebody To Love”, Jefferson Airplane, At the Codfish Ball
“No Expectations”, the Rolling Stones (instead of “Satisfaction”), To Have And To Hold
“I’ll Feel A Whole Lot Better”, the Byrds, The Summer Man
“Who’ll Stop the Rain”, Creedence Clearwater Revival, The Forecast
“Uptight”, Stevie Wonder, Blowing Smoke
“Border Song”, Elton John, The Milk And Honey Route
“(Evening) Time To Get Away”, the Moody Blues, The Quality Of Mercy
Many thanks to all of you who read through this whole project. This is where I leave you. But know first that there are plenty of other pleasant songs featured on Mad Men if you’re as obsessive about it as me. And of course, there’s so much more to get out of it than just the music. For those of you who haven’t finished it, or only went through once, it’s worth a rewatch. Keep the record spinning.