How Mad Men got its weird, moody theme tune

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I love RJD2.
I mean, his actual first name is “Ramble” which pretty much makes him the best ever.
I was at a live show of his, years ago, and at the very end, he asked the crowd if they wanted an encore- and he proposed two choices:

  1. More of what he’d been doing: creating his tunes live from the original samples and whatnot, or
  2. Something totally different.
    Bless the crowd, they (we?) asked for #2.
    And we got an acoustic guitar/vocal tune. At a hip hop show. And the crowd went nuts.
    So. Good.

While I’ve always loved this track as a 60-second theme for the show, I think listening to the long format shows the real problem with phrase sampling like this. The gorgeous string “bah buh bah buh buh dah buh dah” aches for a counter phrase after the first 16 bars, but since he ins’t a string musician actually playing the notes, all he can do is replay his original sample or take the song completely off the rails (he does both at different points) so (to me) it ends up feeling one dimensional. It works great if all you hear is the main “meat” of the song… but without being able to expound upon that main phrase it feels repetitive once it is used 6 to 8 times. Great work at a certain level, but at a higher view it shows the issue with being a DJ as opposed to an actual musician.


All I ever ask of RJD2 is another Soul Position album. I love what Blueprint has been doing since the last one, but there’s some kind of magic in that collaboration.

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