1Q84: The Soundtrack (Part V)…and Last

More cab music. At least talk of music. Aomame goes out with an attitude, fancying herself as Faye Dunaway in The Thomas Crown Affair. Written by Michel Legrand, The Windmills of Your Mind is a tune I used to play on my electric piano. It’s good piano music, and there are a great many versions of this one. Dusty Springfield, of course. It’s a tune that lends itself to pomposity (think the Barbara Streisand and Neil Diamond versions). But if you get the right artist, it’s a tune that can really swing. Check Oscar Peterson on his “Walking The Line” album, for instance. Vanilla Fudge (of “You Keep Me Hangin’ On” fame) gave it a pretty good beating, checking in with an 8 on the “oh really” scale. The Fudge start out with a military beat, then a slow guitar which gets faster and faster. Silence. Then back to a dirge drum beat. Finally just before the three-minute mark, the singing starts a la Fudge, epic slowness and pomposity. This is Vanilla Fudge after all. Turgid as I remember them. I’ll cop to owning the album though. Ok. This is my stop.

In Book 3, Chapter 9, there is a mention of Grand Funk Railroad. Unfortunately. I do my duty and listen to “We’re an American Band”. God, I hated that band. With their hokey drum beat and out of tune singing, they were the worst of the ’70’s. I wash my ears out with some James Brown. Get on the Good Foot! Yeah!

The investigator searching for the link between Aomame and Tengo, quits his surveillance for the day, and settles into a tub. On the radio is Sibelius’ Violin Concerto. I listen to the album that he mentions: Beethoven, Sibelius Violin Concertos, Zino Francescatti and David Oistrakh – the Violin Concerto in D Minor Opus 47. As he listens, he admits that this is not “the right music to listen to at the end of a long day.” Better choices would be “a concerto by Rameau” or perhaps Schumann’s Carnaval. But the Sibelius is what’s on the radio at the moment. On the other hand, the piece, at “roughly thirty-minute[s]” is a bath length piece of music. The next piece on the radio is Janacek’s Sinfonietta a work that occurs over and over in Murakami’s novel, as if the theme song for the entire work – we could call it Opus 1Q84. 

As Ushikawa tails Tengo into the park playground where he sometimes goes – he climbs a slide to the top to get a better view of the two moons of the 1Q84 world – he recalls “an old pop song by Kyu Sakamoto,” I remember this one as well. It’s a sentimental song with some whistling as well as singing (whistling in songs make appearances from time to time). We are fascinated by whistling, We may not all be able to sing, but we fancy that we can all whistle the tune. Anyway, it you were of an age around 1963 you may know it as well. “Ue o Muite Arukō (aka Sukiyaki) got a lot of radio play at the time and reached the top of the Billboard charts that year. It’s about a guy who walks along looking up at the sky, which is why Ushikawa thought of it. Wikipedia lists several covers of the song, including a version by A Taste of Honey (charted at #1 in 1981) and Selena both of which I listened to (eh!). Frankly. the original is the most heartfelt, hence the most genuine.

A word on the music. I really did listen to all this stuff, courtesy of my subscription music service. I was able to find everything mentioned – if a specific version, I found it. If a generic mention, then I listened to the closest approximation that I thought might have been available in or before 1984. I’ve done this before when I read. It’s fun and engages me in the piece I’m reading. I think the last time I did this was when I read Patti Smith’s Just Kids and listened to the entire Patti Smith catalogue as I read.

*****************************************************

That’s it. I realized about half way through that I should have done this as “The Soundtrack and The Reading List”. Several pieces if literature are important here, including: Anton Chekov’s Sakhalin Island; Isak Dinesen’s Out of Africa; Marcel Proust’s À la recherche du temps perdu. Next time.

So I’ve finished this astonishing work. It’s a daunting task to put down thoughts and to try and pull it all together. I think the most I’ll be able to do is meander through my impressions. But that’s nothing new for me.

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7 Comments

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7 responses to “1Q84: The Soundtrack (Part V)…and Last

  1. Anonymous

    IMHO, the song Murakami refers to is Miagete Goran Yoru No Hoshi Wo:
    “Miagete goran yoru no hoshi wo
    Chisana hoshi no chisana hikari ga.”

    The Ue o Muite Aruko lyrics mean “I hold my head up when I walk, so the tears won’t fall down” or something like that.

  2. Anonymous

    And thank YOU for the “Cold or Not, God Is Present” tip. Am currently translating 1Q84 from English into Bulgarian, and your observation was most intriguing and helpful. Best Regards.
    V.K. Venkov

  3. Nice. Best of luck with that!

  4. Love these posts… This weekend this book is definitely on the “to read” list.

  5. Kris-
    The publishers provide a list of “suggested further reading” at the end of the novel, and one of the six is Umberto Eco’s “The Prague Cemetery”. Please let me know what you think of this and what you see as the connection. I’d be very interested.

    After I read “Luminous Airplanes” next, I’ve decided to get and read the Eco after that.

  6. Pingback: 1Q84 ~ Haruki Murakami | Chazz W

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