Cool Whip wasn't the only brand that popped up during Sunday night's Mad Men — a different kind of cool brand, one that whipped fans into a frenzy back in episode 508's day, was also very much in evidence: the Beatles.
It’s been more than four decades since the Fab Four last performed together. Since then, of course, John Lennon was assassinated and George Harrison died of lung cancer. While time has passed and much has changed, the Beatles remain one of the world’s powerhouse brands. One reason why is because those who protect it are still doing so extremely diligently. The band’s songs rarely are heard in any kind of situation other than on the radio or on whatever form of music player consumers prefer.
That changed this past Sunday night when AMC’s Mad Men used the “Tomorrow Never Knows” in an episode that partially chronicled protagonist Don Draper’s attempt to understand the youth culture. As part of his efforts, Draper puts “Revolver” on the stereo and listens to the tune, the last track on the album. Released in 1966, the song marks a bit of turning point musically for the band and era as it showcase the band’s experiments with psychedelia. Lennon used Timothy Leary’s The Psychedelic Experience: A Manual Based on the Tibetan Book of the Dead as inspiration for the lyrics.
Draper is befuddled by the song, but Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner wasn’t confused one bit.
Weiner wanted the music of the actual Beatles on his show and that tune in particular. “It was always my feeling that the show lacked a certain authenticity because we never could have an actual master recording of the Beatles performing,” Weiner told the New York Times. “Not just someone singing their song or a version of their song, but them, doing a song in the show. It always felt to me like a flaw. Because they are the band, probably, of the 20th century.”
And so Weiner and his team did everything they could to make it happen. They’d been rejected before on other songs by Apple Corps, the Beatles' company that signed a landmark deal with that other Apple in 2010, but did not give up. In order to get “Tomorrow” onto the show, Weiner had to do something he isn’t a big fan of: share his story line with an outside entity. And, of course, fork over about $250,000.
“Whatever people think, this is not about money,” Weiner told the Times. “It never is. They are concerned about their legacy and their artistic impact.” And they have been extremely protective of that. The Times notes that the tune’s use on the show “is likely one of the only times that a Beatles track has been used in a TV show.”
In the five years that Jeff Jones, the head of Apple Corps, has been there, there has never been another such license and Weiner “said he was told it was the only time a Beatles song has been in a television show, other than the band’s live performances,” the Times reports.
In the end, both brands benefit and a new piece of Beatles trivia has been made.
[image via AMC]