On Sunday night, The Beatles made history again when Don Draper slipped a copy of Revolver onto his turntable and started listening to “Tomorrow Never Knows.” According to Matthew Weiner, the creator of Mad Men, this marked the first time a Beatles song appeared on a television show (excluding the band’s live TV performances during the 1960s). And the privilege of playing a Beatles tune came at a cost — a reported $250,000.
If you’re not familiar with “Tomorrow Never Knows” (listen below), we’ll tell you a few simple things about it. According to Steve Turner, author of A Hard Day’s Write, this was John Lennon’s “attempt to create in words and sounds a suitable track for the LSD experience” (John discusses his first encounter with the drug here), and it was also the “weirdest and most experimental piece of music to appear under the Beatles’ name at the time.” Without a doubt, this psychedelic tune would have fit hand-in-glove with Mad Men’s fifth episode of the season, when Roger and Jane drop acid at a psychiatrist’s dinner party. But it sits comfortably too in Episode 8. Just as the song marked a tuning point in the band’s sound, so too does it presage a turning point in Mad Men’s narrative. We begin to see individual characters moving in new personal directions and the show itself entering the later radical 60s.
Above, we’ve included a clip where Paul McCartney, George Harrison and George Martin talk about the making of “Tomorrow Never Knows.” Wikipedia actually offers some more good details on the song’s structure and recording. Below you’ll also find the original track.