Haruki Murakami Day: Stream Seven Hours of Mixes Collecting All the Jazz, Classical & Classic American Pop Music from His Novels

What makes the nov­els of Haru­ki Muraka­mi — orig­i­nal­ly writ­ten in Japan­ese and almost unfail­ing­ly filled with some odd but deeply char­ac­ter­is­tic mix­ture of cats, wells, par­al­lel worlds, mys­te­ri­ous dis­ap­pear­ing women with well-formed ears, and much else besides — so beloved around the world? A large part of it must have to do with Murakami’s cul­tur­al ref­er­ences, some­times Japan­ese but most often west­ern, and even more so when it comes to music. “Almost with­out excep­tion,” writes The Week music crit­ic Scott Mes­low in an exten­sive piece on all the songs and artists name-checked in these nov­els, “Murakami’s musi­cal ref­er­ences are con­fined to one of three gen­res: clas­si­cal, jazz, and Amer­i­can pop.”

Even the very names of Murakami’s books, “includ­ing Nor­we­gian WoodDance Dance Dance, and South of the Bor­der, West of the Sun — derive their titles from songs, and his char­ac­ters con­stant­ly reflect on the music they hear.”

You’ll hear all these songs and many more in Mes­low’s three stream­ing mix­es, total­ing sev­en hours of lis­ten­ing, that just this month made up “Haru­ki Muraka­mi Day” on Lon­don-based inter­net radio sta­tion NTS. (We pre­vi­ous­ly fea­tured NTS here on Open Cul­ture when they put up a twelve-hour “spir­i­tu­al jazz” expe­ri­ence fea­tur­ing John Coltrane, Sun Ra, Her­bie Han­cock, and many oth­ers, a fair few of whom sure­ly appear in Murakami’s own famous­ly large col­lec­tion of jazz records.)

Haru­ki Muraka­mi begins with Brook Ben­ton’s 1970 bal­lad “Rainy Night in Geor­gia,” the first song Muraka­mi ever includ­ed in a nov­el. In fact, he includ­ed it in his very first nov­el, 1978’s Hear the Wind Sing, which he wrote in the wee hours at his kitchen table after clos­ing up the Tokyo jazz bar he ran in those years before becom­ing a pro­fes­sion­al writer. He even cre­at­ed a radio DJ char­ac­ter, whose voice recurs through­out the nov­el, to announce it and oth­er songs (though his tech­niques for includ­ing his favorite music in his writ­ing have grown some­what sub­tler since). “Okay, our first song of the evening,” the DJ says. “This one you can just sit back and enjoy. A great lit­tle num­ber, and the best way to beat the heat” — or the cold, or what­ev­er the weath­er in your part of the world. Wher­ev­er that is, it’s sure to have plen­ty of Muraka­mi fans who want to lis­ten in.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Haru­ki Muraka­mi Became a DJ on a Japan­ese Radio Sta­tion for One Night: Hear the Music He Played for Delight­ed Lis­ten­ers

A 3,350-Song Playlist of Music from Haru­ki Murakami’s Per­son­al Record Col­lec­tion

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

A 26-Hour Playlist Fea­tur­ing Music from Haru­ki Murakami’s Lat­est Nov­el, Killing Com­menda­tore

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

Stream Big Playlists of Music from Haru­ki Murakami’s Per­son­al Vinyl Col­lec­tion and His Strange Lit­er­ary Worlds

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, 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.

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Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.