Haruki Murakami readers, or even those of us who’ve just read about his novels, know to expect certain things from his books: cats, ears, wells, strange parallel realities, and above all music. And not just any music, but highly deliberate selections from the Western classical, pop, and jazz canons, all no doubt pulled straight from the shelves of the writer’s vast personal record library. That personal library may well have grown a few records vaster today, given that it’s Murakami’s 69th birthday. To mark the occasion, we’ve rounded up a few hit playlists of music from the Norwegian Wood, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, and 1Q84 author’s work as well as his life.
At the top of the post we have a Youtube playlist of songs from the artists featured in Murakami’s non-fiction Portrait in Jazz books, still, like most of his essayistic writing, untranslated into English. We originally highlighted it in a post on his formidable love of that most American of all musical traditions, which got him running a jazz bar in Tokyo years before he became a novelist. Just above, you’ll find a 96-song Spotify playlist of the songs featured in his novels, featuring jazz recordings by the likes of Miles Davis, Duke Ellington, and Thelonious Monk, the classical compositions of Mozart, Bach, Beethoven, and Haydn, and pop numbers from the Beach Boys, Elvis Presley, Hall and Oates, and Michael Jackson.
Finally, you can close out this musical Murakami birthday with the Spotify playlist above of music from his own vinyl collection — though at 3,350 songs in total, it will probably extend the celebration beyond a day. Even that listening experience surely represents only a fraction of what Murakami keeps on his shelves, all of it offering potential material for his next inexplicably gripping story. And though the English-speaking world still awaits its translation of Murakami’s latest novel Killing Commendatore, which came out in Japan last year, you can hear the music it name-checks in the Youtube playlist below. Something about the mix — Richard Strauss, Sheryl Crow, the Modern Jazz Quartet, Duran Duran — suggests we’re in for another Murakamian reading experience indeed:
Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities and culture. His projects include the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.