The closing montage of last night’s Mad Men had me marking out big time. Sure, putting “Tomorrow Never Knows” as the score would automatically make most montages 800% better, and yes, it was a bit on-the-nose for a sequence of characters on the brink of uncertain futures. But this was one of those rare cases where “on-the-nose” is right on target.
While Peggy’s getting high burning the midnight oil at the SCDP office, and Pete’s yearning for an affair that he should probably let slip through his fingers, the reason we’re hearing “Tomorrow Never Knows” is because Megan Draper’s trying to turn Don onto The Beatles. Unfortunately, she seems to have gone about it the wrong way.
Going back to the beginning, I always sensed that Don Draper, deep down, wanted to be a free-wheeling beatnik, even if he might never ditch his corporate lifestyle. The affair with Midge the artist, the escapes to California, his overall not-giving-a-fuck. I figured that by the end of the series, Don and Peggy would adapt to the 1960s revolution, even if they wouldn’t turn into full-blown hippies. But lately, it’s clearer that the ’60s will probably wash right over Don, if not swallow him up entirely. (And now in the wake of Roger Sterling’s life-altering LSD trip, it seems like the once-obsolete SCDP partner might adapt to the rising tide far better than his peers.)
Naturally, it’s a client’s wish for a Hard Day’s Night-style ad that most piques Don’s interest in The Beatles, and leads Megan to give him Revolver. But Megan’s mistake was telling Don to start with the album’s last track, “Tomorrow Never Knows.” When she said “start here,” I assumed she was referring to “Eleanor Rigby,” since “Taxman” might have offended Don’s more conservative sensibilities. Just a couple episodes back, we saw Don whistling “I Want To Hold Your Hand,” so it’s not unreasonable to expect he’d also get into Revolver‘s poppier tracks.
But when Don dropped the needle on his turntable and the proto-trance of “Tomorrow Never Knows” started pulsating, I was shocked. I love the song, and as I said, I love how it was used, but it’s a terrible choice as a gateway drug if you’re trying to hook your 40 year-old ad man husband in 1966. It took music decades to catch up with “Tomorrow Never Knows-” how did Megan expect Don to dig it? Of course he picked the needle up before the song was over.
Then again, if Megan was using “Tomorrow Never Knows” as some sort of litmus test to see just how compatible she and Don were, then maybe she succeeded after all.