You know the Mad Men theme; you love the Mad Men theme. Perhaps you know it’s an RJD2 beat called “A Beautiful Mine” originally used on his collaborative album with Aceyalone, Magnificent City. (How’s that for reverse-engineering a recognizable sample?) But it turns out RJ wasn’t AMC’s first choice to soundtrack the acclaimed drama’s iconic opening sequence. In a new Billboard cover story, Beck casually mentions that he turned down multiple offers to write opening credits music for the show. Here’s the relevant excerpt from writer Jenny Eliscu’s story:
I suggest that he obviously has confidence in his own instincts, but Beck quickly demurs, “My instinct has definitely gone awry; I could give you many examples.” He laughs and tells me about how, several years ago, he turned down repeated requests to write the theme song for a new cable TV series. “It’s about ad executives in the ’60s? They’re going to make a show about that? Really? Um, I don’t think so,” he remembers saying. “Yeah, just like the best show ever made!”
Right about now we’re all probably imagining what Beck might have come up with, so consider this: He was writing Modern Guilt around that time, and the title track is actually comparable to “A Beautiful Mine” in terms of mood and texture, so… maybe that? Still, it’s hard to imagine any other music kicking off Mad Men. Take a spin through both tunes and the credits sequence below.
Incidentally, Mad Men’s final season begins 4/13 on AMC, but it’s being split in half with the second batch of episodes airing next year, Breaking Bad style, which is annoying as hell.