Murakami’s Music — After Dark

I got introduced to Murakami last year and have been a devoted fan ever since. I resolved to read more books by Murakami this year and just the other day wrapped up the third book of the Rat trilogy (I’ve decided to read his books in the chronological order of year published). The first few books may not be Murakami’s best or most popular work but I’d urge every ardent fan to read them. In them are the beginnings of what Murakami’s work is known for today — the mysticism, the magical realism, the stirring mundane detail, the motifs and of course, the references to art — especially music. In fact, you will find ideas, quotes and even characters that appear in his later novels, more polished but ever the same.

Besides discovering what appears were the seeds of Murakami’s success, one other good thing happened. I figured it was time to get back to my pet project. After Dark was one of the best books I read last year and I see myself re-reading it on a dull rainy day. It was this book that led me to discover and appreciate jazz among other things.

Here’s the playlist of all the songs referenced in the book

  1. In the opening chapter, Mari sits by herself reading her book at Denny’s. Go Away Little Girl by Percy Faith and his orchestra plays at a low volume in the background.
  2. Takahashi tells Mari why he chose to learn the trombone — when he was in school he bought a jazz record called Blues-ette. The first tune on side A was Five Spot After Dark by Curtis Fueller on the trombone. He loved the tune so much he decided that the trombone was going to be his instrument. Later he is genuinely surprised Mari knew the song.
  3. When Takahashi bids Mari goodbye and leaves Denny’s, Mari gets back to her book. Burt Bacharach’s The April Fools plays through the restaurant at low volume.
  4. Right before Kaoru arrives to fetch Mari, who is busy reading her book at Denny’s — Martin Denny’s More plays in the background.
  5. At Skylark, where Kaoru drops Mari off after an eventful night — an old Ben Webster record ‘My ideal’ plays.
  6. Later the bartender puts on a record. Duke Ellington’s Sophisticated Lady begins to play. Harry Carney’s languorous bass clarinet performs solo.
  7. Inside the Skylark restroom, Mari is carefully washing her hands and appears to be washing off a sticky substance that clings to the spaces between her fingers. Pet Shop Boys old hit ‘Jealousy’ plays in the background.
  8. Mari leaves the Skylark restroom but her image lingers behind. Hall and Oates ‘I can’t go for that’ plays on the ceiling speaker.
  9. When the guy at the other end of the line tells Kaoru to ‘Wait a minute’, she replies “I’ll wait, till I turn blue”. At this Komugi sings “The snow is fa-a-a-lling…But where are you-o-o-o-o-u?…I’ll go on wa-a-a-a-a-ting…Till I turn blu-u-u-u-e…”. I can’t seem to find this song anywhere on the internet. In fact I’m unsure whether it’s an actual song at all or something Komugi made up. Any leads would be appreciated.
  10. At Shirakawa’s office. A Bach piano piece flows at moderate volume from a compact CD player. Ivo Pogorelich performs one of the English Suites.
  11. Takanashi hums the tune of Five Spot After Dark as he shops at the local 7-Eleven.
  12. As Shirakawa exercises, a Scarlatti cantata sung by Brian Asawa flows from the portable CD player.
  13. When Shirakawa reaches the 7–Eleven store to pick a carton of milk, a new song by the Southern All Stars is playing.
  14. In the basement where Takahashi and his band practise, Takahashi is playing a long trombone solo called Sonny Rollin’s “Sonnymoon for Two”.
  15. The second time Takahashi visits 7-Eleven, Shikao Suga’s Bomb Juice is playing from the ceiling speakers.
  16. When Mari questions Takahashi about why he is interested in her, he says he can’t explain it at that moment but may be something like Francis Lai’s soundtrack music will start playing in the background and then he’ll know.

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