I’d Like To Teach The World To Sing

For the past six months I’ve been hooked on Mad Men and I’ve squeezed in all seven series of this brilliant dramatisation of the New York advertising industry in the 50s, 60s and 70s. Each episode has a signature song, and this song ends the final episode of the final series.

I’d Like To Teach The World To Sing started out as I’d Like To Buy The World A Coke and was used as the famous “Hilltop” Coke commercial in which young people from all over the world came together to “sing in harmony”, all holding their bottles of coke. The success of the ad led it to be rerecorded without the commercial element by both the New Seekers and an ad-hoc group of studio singers who called themselves the Hillside Singers.

The significance of the song used in the final episode of Mad Men is that the troubled protagonist Don Draper has has been attending a retreat and is finally at peace with himself. As the episode and the final series come to an end, he is seen meditating on a cliffside with a smile on his face. It cuts to the original footage of the Coke ad, and we assume that Don then returned to McCann-Erickson, his creative talent renewed, and went on to create the Hilltop commercial in the fictional universe of Mad Men.

I clearly remember this song from my childhood, and I guess even then I liked the idea of “teaching the world to sing”. Languages are a good alternative!

If it’s your first time on the site, find out more about the 365 Songs project or see all of my September songs here.