After Beck’s rejection, “Mad Men” series creator Matthew Weiner went in search of a new song to define the series. He eventually found RJD2’s track “A Beautiful Mine” while listening to NPR, he told TV.com (via Microphone). “It had it all: great old movie quality and updated pacing, there was drama. I just loved it,” Weiner explained. RJD2 wasn’t exactly a household name at the time, but he was a major underground hip-hop producer, having worked with legends like Aesop Rock and MF Doom (under his alias Viktor Vaughn).
Weiner admired the RJD2 song because it “had this kind of falling sound,” as he described it to Business Intern. This inspired Weiner to transform the show’s intro. The creator had very different ideas for the opening credits in his early drafts for the series, which he revealed to USA today. These alternate versions included a simple montage of 1950s-style advertisements and a whitewashed take on traditional suburban life.
As for Beck, he still blames himself for not taking the show more seriously. He blames his own fear of taking risks for this major blunder. “I wish I had more confidence,” he admitted to Billboard. “I think that’s probably my Achilles heel.” This fear kept him from attaching his name to one of the most successful shows of all time.
In its seven seasons on the air, “Mad Men” won more Emmys than Beck could count on his fingers. RJD2’s theme song fits the show perfectly – a bygone era of cultural prosperity seen through a contemporary lens of cultural decline. In retrospect, one song by Beck seems totally out of place, but who knows what tone it might have set on the show?