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"1Q84" — A literary soundtrack

"1Q84" — A literary soundtrack

Music has always played a prominent role in Haruki Murakami's books, and 1Q84 is no exception. Here's a playlist for all the PAPER/PLATES audiophiles out there, featuring songs from and inspired by the novel.

1 and 2: Sinfonietta: I. Allegretto" and "Sinfonetta: II. Andante" by Leos Janacek

“The taxi's radio was tuned to a classical FM broadcast. Janacek's Sinfonetta - probably not the ideal music to hear in a taxi caught in traffic.”

Leos Janacek's “Sinfonietta” permeates Haruki Murakami's 1Q84 like the cosmic background radiation of the novel's universe. The song kicks off the book, and is the first of a series of musical references ranging from classical to jazz to pop. Since Janacek's Sinfonietta was released on CD 20 years ago, the album sold 6,000 copies. Once 1Q84 was published, sales reached the same number in only a week.

3: "Billie Jean" by Michael Jackson

“From the open window of the black Toyota Celica parked next to the turnout, Michael Jackson's high-pitched voice provided her with background music. Billie Jean was playing. She felt as if she were performing a striptease.” 

4: "Little Red Rooster" by The Rolling Stones

“Another Rolling Stones record was playing. Little Red Rooster - a performance from the time Mick Jagger was crazy about Chicago blues. Not bad, but not a song written for people engaged in deep thinking or in the midst of seriously digging through old memories.”

5: "I Will Follow Him" by Little Peggy March

“She came over to me after class and squeezed my hand without saying a word. That was all. But in that time, Aomame seemed to have taken part of him with here – part of his heart or body.”

Though not a song that appears in the novel, the line “I must follow him / Ever since he touched my hand I knew” seems appropriate for both Aomame and Tengo. The moment they knew they were in love was when they held hands briefly as children. Sometimes that's all it takes. 

6: "Father Figure" by George Michael

Not just appropriate for the time period, but appropriate thematically as well. Though “appropriate” may not be the best word; this song describes adult Tengo's relationship with the teenage Fuka-Eri.

7: "It's Only A Paper Moon" by Ella Fitzgerald

He hummed the melody. "Do you know it?"
“It's Only A Paper Moon.”
"That's it. 1984 and 1Q84 are fundamentally the same in terms of how they work. If you don't believer in the world, and if there is no love in it, then everything is phony."

A great musical choice by Murakami, considering that Tengo and Aomame can tell the difference between 1Q84 and 1984 by counting the moons in the sky.

8: "Atlanta Blues" by Louis Armstrong & His All-Stars

Whenever the sixth tune on the flip side of the LP, Atlanta Blues began, she would grab one of Tengo's body parts and praise Bigard's concise, exquisite solo, which was sandwiched between Armstrong's song and his trumpet solo. "Listen to that! Amazing — that first, long wail like a little child's cry! What is it — surprise? Overflowing joy? An appeal for happiness?”

9: "The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 1" by J.S. Bach

“The Well-Tempered Clavier was truly heavenly music for mathematicians. It was composed of prelude and fugue pairs in major and minor keys using all twelve tones of the scale, twenty-four pieces per book, forty-eight pieces in all, comprising a perfect cycle.”

10: "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)" by Eurythmics

It wouldn't be a complete 80s-inspired playlist without this song. Sweet Dreams also captures the vibe of Tengo's unsettlingly vivid dream about Aomame.

11: "Strange Relationships" by Chiara Hunter

And finally, something modern and fun thrown in to sum up the relationships in 1Q84. They are truly strange, indeed. 

The TBR List: February 2017

The TBR List: February 2017

Book club guide: "1Q84" by Haruki Murakami discussion questions and menu

Book club guide: "1Q84" by Haruki Murakami discussion questions and menu