“Creative people have to be fundamentally egoistic. This may sound pompous, but it happens to be the truth.”—Haruki Murakami.
Haruki Murakami, the iconic Japanese writer whose work has developed into international bestsellers, is regarded by many as one of the world’s greatest living novelists. “If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking,” Murakami once famously stated in what is the clearest indication of his creative approach.
Murakami, who has been heavily influenced by Western culture since childhood, became quickly infatuated by the world of jazz and classical music from a young age. With his breadth of knowledge continually growing into his teens, Murakami founded a jazz club at the age of 15 and continued to run it until he was 30.
Speaking about his passion, the novelist explained: “As Duke Ellington once said, ‘There are simply two kinds of music, good music and the other kind.’ In that sense, jazz and classical music are fundamentally the same. The pure joy one experiences listening to ‘good’ music transcends questions of genre.”
Many of Murakami novels have played with themes and titles that refer to classical music and, after opening the Peter Cat, a coffeehouse and jazz bar, he detailed his love for music in the same field like writing, explaining that both mediums offer him a mental journey of sorts.
“Despite being an amateur (or perhaps because of it), whenever I listen to music, I do so without preconceptions, simply opening my ears to the more wonderful passages and physically taking them in,” Murakami once said in a conversation with Seiji Ozawa for Absolutely on Music. “When those wonderful passages are there, I feel joy, and when some parts are not so wonderful, I listen with a touch of regret. Beyond that, I might pause to think about what makes a certain passage wonderful or not so wonderful, but other musical elements are not that important to me.”
He added: “Basically, I believe that music exists to make people happy. In order to do so, those who make music use a wide range of techniques and methods which, in all their complexity, fascinate me in the simplest possible way.”
In 2018, as part of a retrospective look at his work, Waseda University in Tokyo announced their plans to house the archives of Haruki Murakami. As part of this show, many personal items from his life, which included his manuscripts and source documents, also involved his personal vinyl collection.
Below, stream a mammoth playlist of Murakami’s personal favourites.