One word that could best describe “Mad Men” creator Matthew Weiner is “obsessive.”
Throughout the entire run of “Mad Men,” he made sure to get all the period details right and went as far as to model a kitchen after the year 1957 instead of 1960 in order to ensure continuity.
Outside of the sets, costumes, and cigarettes one of the most memorable features on all of “Mad Men” is the music. Weiner handpicked many of the songs used throughout the series by hand.
The most surprising part, though, is that he was planning the show’s soundtrack years before he even knew what “Mad Men” would become.
A plaque displayed at the “Mad Men” exhibit at the Museum of the Moving Image reads: “I chose most of the non-scored music on the series. I was open to suggestions and in many key moments they have worked well for the show.”
“But I have a very personal relationship with music and am a delusional person to the degree that before the show existed, I kept a file in my iTunes of all the songs that could go one day in the show. Over seven years I used most of them–in fact many stories were actually constructed to serve specific songs.” Weiner added.
At the exhibit, you can hear some of Weiner’s explanations for why he chose certain songs to accompany certain episodes.
Here are excerpts of recordings from the Museum of the Moving Image in which Weiner discusses some of the many highlights from the “Mad Men” soundtrack:
“A Beautiful Mine” (RJD2), Opening Credits Song
Inspiration can strike anywhere at any time. Weiner first heard “A Beautiful Mine” on the radio and thought it perfectly matched the now famous falling man in the show’s opening credits.
“The theme song, ‘A Beautiful Mine,’ was something I heard on NPR…on ‘Marketplace’ as transitional music right as we were making the title sequence, and I loved that it had this sort of falling sound to it.” Weiner said.
“You Only Live Twice” (Nancy Sinatra), “The Phantom” (season 5, episode 13)
“‘You Only Live Twice,’ by Nancy Sinatra, is from a James Bond film and was something that I had on my iPod because I had a collection of music that would go for this imaginary TV show that I had that I was always collecting.” Weiner said. “And to me, it thematically summed up the story of someone who had two different lives and because this show was about this secret identity, and the words are very poetic…”
Things changed since Weiner first began planning for his theoretical TV series, and the song almost ended up in another part of the series.
“…for a time I was thinking about using it as the theme song for the show, or certainly for the ending of the first episode, but then I really wanted to tie it to the period. And by the time we got to season five, where it’s featured heavily in the ending of the entire season, we really built that [final] sequence around this song.” Weiner said.