A 96-Song Playlist of Music in Haruki Murakami’s Novels: Miles Davis, Glenn Gould, the Beach Boys & More


Last month we fea­tured the par­tic­u­lars of nov­el­ist Haru­ki Murakami’s pas­sion for jazz, includ­ing a big Youtube playlist of songs select­ed from Por­trait in Jazz, his book of essays on the music. But we also allud­ed to Murakami’s admis­sion of run­ning to a sound­track pro­vid­ed by The Lovin’ Spoon­ful, which sug­gests lis­ten­ing habits not enslaved to purism. His books — one of the very best known of which takes its name straight from a Bea­t­les song (“Nor­we­gian Wood”) — tend to come pre-loaded with ref­er­ences to sev­er­al vari­eties of music, almost always West­ern and usu­al­ly Amer­i­can.  “The Fierce Imag­i­na­tion of Haru­ki Muraka­mi,” Sam Ander­son­’s pro­file of the writer on the occa­sion of the release of his pre­vi­ous nov­el 1Q84, name-checks not just Stan Getz but Janáček’s Sin­foni­et­ta, The Rolling Stones’ Sym­pa­thy for the Dev­il, Eric Clap­ton’s Rep­tile, Bruce Spring­steen’s ver­sion of “Old Dan Tuck­er,” and The Many Sides of Gene Pit­neyThe title of Murakami’s new Col­or­less Tsuku­ru Taza­ki and His Years of Pil­grim­age, writes The Week’s Scott Mes­low, ref­er­ences Franz Liszt’s ‘Years of Pil­grim­age’ suite, “which plays a cen­tral role in the nov­el­’s nar­ra­tive. The point­ed ref­er­ence isn’t exact­ly a major detour from Muraka­mi.”

Giv­en the writer’s increas­ing reliance on music and the notion of “songs that lit­er­al­ly have the pow­er to change the world,” to say noth­ing of his “abil­i­ty to sin­gle-hand­ed­ly dri­ve musi­cal trends,” it can prove an illu­mi­nat­ing exer­cise to assem­ble Muraka­mi playlists. Select­ing 96 tracks, Mes­low has cre­at­ed his own playlist (above) that empha­sizes the breadth of genre in the music incor­po­rat­ed into Murakami’s fic­tion: from Ray Charles to Bren­da Lee, Duke Elling­ton to Bob­by Darin, Glenn Gould to the Beach Boys. Each song appears in one of Murakami’s nov­els, and Mes­low even includes cita­tions for each track: “I had some cof­fee while lis­ten­ing to May­nard Fer­guson’s ‘Star Wars.’ ” “Her milk was on the house if she would play the Bea­t­les’ ‘Here Comes the Sun,’ said the girl.” Imag­ine The Great­est Hits of Bob­by Darin minus ‘Mack the Knife.’ That’s what my life would be like with­out you.” “The room begins to dark­en. In the deep­en­ing dark­ness, ‘I Can’t Go For That’ con­tin­ues to play.” It all coheres in some­thing to lis­ten to while explor­ing Murakami’s world: in your imag­i­na­tion, in real life, or in his trade­mark realms between. 

To lis­ten to the playlist above, you will first need to down­load Spo­ti­fy. Please note that once you mouse over the playlist, you can scroll through all 96 songs. Look for the ver­ti­cal scroll­bar along the right side of the playlist.

Pho­to above is attrib­uted to “wakari­m­a­sita of Flickr”

via The Week

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Read 5 Sto­ries By Haru­ki Muraka­mi Free Online (For a Lim­it­ed Time)

A Pho­to­graph­ic Tour of Haru­ki Murakami’s Tokyo, Where Dream, Mem­o­ry, and Real­i­ty Meet

Haru­ki Murakami’s Pas­sion for Jazz: Dis­cov­er the Novelist’s Jazz Playlist, Jazz Essay & Jazz Bar

In Search of Haru­ki Muraka­mi, Japan’s Great Post­mod­ernist Nov­el­ist

Haru­ki Muraka­mi Trans­lates The Great Gats­by, the Nov­el That Influ­enced Him Most

Col­in Mar­shall hosts and pro­duces Note­book on Cities and Cul­ture and writes essays on cities, lan­guage, Asia, and men’s style. He’s at work on a book about Los Ange­les, A Los Ange­les Primer. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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