Murakami’s Music — Norwegian Wood

Courtesy: Henri W of skw4tch.wordpress.com

I read Norwegian Wood last year and quickly followed it up with two other Murakami novels. I’ve become a big fan and intend to read a lot more of Murakami this year. Anyone who has read his novels will know how integral music is to his writing. I’ve discovered a lot of great music thanks to the books. I decided to create a playlist compiling all the songs and melodies mentioned in each book.

If you’re reading this and plan on picking up Norwegian Wood soon, you should probably stop and go read the book first. Not that any spoiler can possibly ruin the book for you but because reading the book will give you some much needed context.

Listing down the context for every song in the playlist,

  1. As Toru’s plane lands on Hamburg airport, a sweet orchestral version of ‘Norwegian Wood’ starts playing
  2. Toru buys Naoko a Henry Mancini album for Christmas with her favourite song ‘Dear Heart’
  3. Toru and Naoko were supposed to go see the orchestra play one of Naoko’s favourites, ‘Brahm’s fourth symphony’, but Storm Trooper fell sick and Toru had to cancel
  4. On Naoko’s 20th birthday, Toru played all her 6 records, starting with Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and ending with Waltz for Debbie.
  5. When Toru visits Midori’s house for the first time, he gets her daffodils. Midori starts singing ‘Seven Daffodils’ and recalls how she had sung it in a school talent contest.
  6. While watching her neighbour’s house on fire, Midori strummed and sang

7. When Toru visits Ami Hostel for the first time, Reiko plays

8. When Toru, Naoko and Reiko go for a picnic, the radio plays ‘White Room’ and ‘Scarborough Fair’. Reiko plays a rendition of ‘Scarborough Fair’ as well

9. When Toru and Naoko return from a walk, they find Reiko reading and listening to ‘Brahm’s second piano concerto’ on the radio

10. Reiko plays ‘Desafinado’, ‘The Girl From Ipanema’, a few Bacharach and Lennon and McCartney songs

11. A girl requests Toru to play Rolling Stones ‘Jumpin Jack Flash’ at the record shop he works at

12. When Toru tells Midori that he feels he hasn’t yet adapted to the real world, she makes a reference to ‘People are strange’ by The Doors

13. While Toru and Midori are drinking in the afternoon, Thelonius Monk’s ‘Honeysuckle Rose’ plays in the background

14. Toru plays ‘Kind of Blue’ on loop and watches the rain fall. He later writes to Naoko

15. When Reiko visits Toru in Tokyo, she plays a total of 51 songs/melodies. The ones mentioned in the book are

16. Toru strums ‘Up on the roof’ by The Drifters on his guitar

Some other artists mentioned in the book are Bud Powell, Ornette Coleman, Ayumi Ishida, Miles Davis, Rogers & Hart, Gershwin, Bob Dylan, Ray Charles, Carole King, The Beach Boys and Stevie Wonder.

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