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(Credit: Wakarimasita)

From Miles Davis to The Beatles: A playlist of every song mentioned in Haruki Murakami's novels


The novels of Haruki Murakami are full to the brim with musical references. From Bach Fugues to Beatles pop hits, the Japanese author’s books, at times, seem more like the depositaries of his immense record collection. Murakami once estimated that he owns something like 10,000 records, but says he was afraid to count. I would be too. I imagine people have walked into Murakami’s record room and never been seen again.

Murakami was born in 1949 to a Buddhist priest father and Osakian Merchant mother. From an early age, he became interested in western literature, reading the works of Franz Kafka, Gustave Flaubert, Charles Dickens, Kurt Vonnegut and Jack Kerouac. This interest in western writers informed his musical tastes too, and whilst studying drama at Waseda University in Tokyo, Murakami worked in a record store specialising in jazz and early pop records, later going on to set up his own coffee house and jazz bar

The author’s musical references encompass a plethora of styles, but there are three main genres that come up time and time again. Those are classical, jazz, and American pop. Indeed, the very titles of his novels are often inspired by songs from some of the key purveyors of these three genres. Think ‘Norweigian Wood’, named after the famous Lennon song and the first western song to feature a sitar. Dance Dance Dance, South Of The Border and West Of The Sun, also take their names from American pop songs.

His characters are often portrayed as being bound to the music they listen to, with certain pieces acting as narrative and character motifs in themselves. These pieces give texture and life to characters in all their solitude, madness, and passion. In this way, Murakami is one of the most filmic writers working today. Like Nick Hornby, he creates a soundtrack for his novels and, in doing so, binds them to the real world.

As a result, Murakami is perhaps one of the only writers to have almost as much impact on the music world as he does on the literary world. His belief that songs really do have the power to change the world has given his fiction the power to influence musical tastes and drive trends across the globe. For example, following the Japanese release of Murukami’a 1Q84, Leoš Janáček’s ‘Sinfonietta’, which is referenced time and time again as the story unfolds, sold as many copies in one week as it had sold over the previous 20 years.

So in celebration of Murakami’s contribution to music, we’ve included a playlist of all the music mentioned in Murakami’s fiction. Having started his writing career in the 1970s, the playlist allows us to trace how Murakami’s use of music has developed, how his tastes have evolved, and how the landscape of popular music has shifted over the last 40 years.

Every song Mentioned in Haruki Murakami’s Novels:

  • ‘Rainy Night’ In Georgia – Brooke Benton
  • ‘California Girls’ – The Beach Boys
  • ‘Piano Concerto No.3 In C Minor#’ – Ludwig Van Beethoven
  • ‘A Gal In Calico’ – Miles Davis
  • ‘Return to Sender’ – Elvis Presley
  • ‘Everyday People’ – Sly & The Family Stone
  • ‘Woodstock’ – Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young
  • ‘Spirit In The Sky’ – Norman Greenbaum
  • ‘Hey There Lonely Girl’ – Eddie Holman
  • ‘Good Luck Charm’ – Elvis Presley
  • ‘Haydn Piano Sonata No.32 In G Minor’ – Franz Joseph Haydn
  • ‘Rubber Ball’ – Bobby Vee
  • ‘It’s So Peaceful In The Country’ – Mildred Bailey
  • ‘Piano Sonata No.2 In F Major’ – Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
  • ‘MacArthur Park’ -Richard Harris
  • ‘Midnight Special’ – Johnny Rivers
  • ‘Roll Over Beethoven’ – Johnny Rivers
  • ‘Johnny B. Goode’ – Johnny Rivers
  • ‘Main Title from Star Wars‘ – John Williams
  • ‘Perfida’ – Percy Faith
  • ‘Air Mail Special’ – Benny Goodman
  • ‘Positively 4th Street’ – Bob Dylan
  • ‘Georgia On My Mind’ – Ray Charles
  • ‘Do Nothin’ Till You Hear From Me’ – Count Basie Orchestra
  • ‘Sophisticated Lady’ – Johnny Hodges
  • ‘La Gazza Ladre Overture’ – Giachino Rossini
  • ‘Tannhäuser Overture’ – Richard Wagner
  • ‘The Flying Dutchman’ – Richard Wagner
  • ‘Born In The USA’ – Bruce Springsteen
  • ‘Night And Day’ – Frank Sinatra
  • ‘Light My Fire’ – The Doors
  • ‘The Long And Winding Road’ – The Beatles
  • ‘Mama Told Me (Not To Come) – Three Dog Nights
  • ‘Norwegian Wood (The Bird Has Flown) – The Beatles
  • ‘Prélude No.5 en ré majeur – Jacques Loussier
  • ‘Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence’ – Ryuichi Sakamoto
  • ‘Hit The Road Jack – Ray Charles
  • ‘Travelin Man’ – Ricky Nelson
  • ‘All Alone Am I’ – Brenda Lee
  • ‘(What A) Wonderful World’ – Sam Cooke
  • ‘Beyond The Sea’ – Bobby Darin
  • ‘Hound Dog’ – Elvis Presley
  • ‘Theme From Shaft‘ – Isaac Hayes
  • ‘Mr. Roboto’ – Styx
  • ‘Frenesi’ – Arti Shaw
  • ‘Moonglow’ – Artie Shaw
  • ‘Piano Concerto No. 1 in E-Flat Major’ – Franz Lizst
  • ‘South Of The Border’ – Frank Sinatra
  • ‘Winterreise’ – Franz Schubert
  • ‘The Star-Crossed Lovers’ (aka pretty girl) – Duke Ellington
  • ‘Burning Down The House’ – Talking Heads
  • ‘As Time Goes By’ – Dooley Wilson
  • ‘Tara’s Theme (From Gone With The Wind)’ – Percy Faith & His Orchestra
  • ‘The Hawaiian Wedding Song’ – Andy Williams
  • ‘Canadain Sunset’ – Andy Williams
  • ‘Waldzenenen, Op. 82 ‘- Robert Schumann
  • ‘Die Zauberflöte’ – Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
  • ‘Musical Offering BMV. 1079’ – Johann Sebastian Bach
  • ‘Das Veilchen’ – Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
  • ‘Piano Sonata No.23 in F Minor’ – Ludwig Van Beethoven
  • ‘Take Me To Aruanda’ – Astrud Gilberto
  • ‘Mack The Knife’ – Bobby Darin
  • ‘Surfer Girl’ – The Beach Boys
  • ‘I’ll Remember April’ – Errol Garner
  • ‘La Boheme, Act 1’ – Giacomo Puccini
  • ‘Sonata For 2 Pianos in D Major’ – Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
  • ‘Crossroads’ – Cream
  • ‘Little Red Corvette’ – Wild Stylerz
  • ‘Piano Trio No.7 in B Flat Major’ – Ludwig Van Beethoven
  • ‘Auld Lang Syne’ – Anon.
  • ‘Home From The Range’ – Roy Rogers
  • ‘Autumn Leaves’ – Erroll Garner
  • ‘Dear Heart’ -Henry Mancini
  • ‘Barbados’ – Cahrlie Parker
  • ‘Blue Hawaii’ – Elvis Presley
  • ‘Bali Hai’ -Stacey Kent
  • ‘Blues Ette’ – Curtis Fuller Quintet
  • ‘I Can’t Go For That (No Can Do)’ – Daryl Hall and John Oates
  • ‘Sinfonietta’ -Leoš Janáček’
  • ‘Prelude and Fugue No. 1’ – Johann Sebastian Bach & Glenn Gould
  • ‘Billie Jean’ Michael Jackson
  • ‘Atlanta Blues’ – Louis Armstrong
  • ‘Concerto For Strings And Oboe In A Minor’ – Antonio Vivaldia
  • ‘Its Only A Paper Moon’ – Ella Fitzgerald
  • ‘Chantez Les Baz’ – Luois Armstrong
  • ‘Little Red Rooster’ -The Rolling Stones
  • ‘Annees De Pelerinage, Book 1’ – Franz Liszt
  • ‘Round Midnight’ – Theolonius Monk
  • ‘Viva Las Vegas’ – Elvis Presley