Haruki Murakami’s Birthday: Happy Birthday, Haruki Murakami! The Japanese author, who once ran a jazz bar, exudes musical charm in “Norwegian Wood”, “Hear The Wind Sing”

Anyone who knows the works of Japanese writer Haruki Murakami will tell you that it is impossible to separate music from the essence of his stories. The author of “Kafka on the Shore”, who turns 73 today, uses music in his writings not only as points of reference, but also as a narrative device. Perhaps this is the reason why, Western literary critics, although they have castigated the author for his “poorly written sentences” for years, still cannot deny the dreamlike quality and appearance of a another world of his works.

As the author of “Sputnik Sweetheart,” known for his surreal stories and fantasies, takes another trip around the sun, here’s a glimpse of Murakami’s magical connection to music.

musical clues

Perhaps it is Murakami’s deep love and understanding of music that makes his phrases, as they unfold one after another as harmoniously as musical notes flow in a melodious song. In his early twenties, Murakami’s daytime job was in a record store and at night he worked in a jazz swing cafe and it was from this period that the author’s fascination with music grew. took a serious turn.

His love for music quickly led him to a more stable career after opening a jazz cafe-bar called Peter-cat. The bar played recorded 1950s jazz music, especially by Stan Getz and Jerry Mulligan – who were Murakami’s favorites, and also had live musical events. Murakami brewed coffee and cocktails for Peter-cat for nearly seven years, and spent his days and evenings listening to music, before sitting down one night to write the draft of his first novel “Hear The Wind Sing “at the age of 29.

Speaking of the undeniable influence of music on his writing, Murakami said in an old interview:, writing tends to be a very physical process, and that’s my style. If you think my books are easy to read, maybe we have something in common musically.

Books & Songs

Murakami’s musical tastes are diverse, and his books often serve as Easter eggs for fans to focus on songs and genres of music the author likes or refers to in a story. Her first novel, “Hear The Wind Sing,” had a summery vibe and as a result several hit pop and rock songs crept into the main plot. American rock group’s “California Girls”, Joni Mitchell’s Beach Boys to “Woodstock” and none other than Bob Dylan’s “Nashville Skyline” were all part of Murakami’s early work.

Although there was a series of books in between, the writing that catapulted Murakami to literary stardom was “Norwegian Wood” published in 1987. Needless to say, the book derives its title from the famous song of the Beatles which alludes to an extramarital affair, and is the story of Toru Watanabe, a young man navigating the realms of young love, torn between his taste for two very different women. Murakami’s musical influence was most pronounced in this book. From references to Miles Davis, The Doors, Billy Joel and the Bee Gees to Mozart, Bach and the Beatles – this book is peppered with pop culture influences.


Needless to say, the book takes its title from the famous Beatles song that hints at an extramarital affair.

In his book, “Hard Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World”, the influence of popular Western music on his work also becomes evident, as Murakami’s name drops Duran Duran, Jimi Hedrix, The Police and Bob Marley. and Ray Charles’ ‘Georgia on my Mind’ and ‘Bag’s Grove’ by Miles Daves find their place in the story.


In his book “Hard Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World”, the influence of Western popular music on his work also becomes evident.

However, Murakami’s most comprehensive work on music so far is his book, “Absolutely on Music,” which chronicles the journey of him and the former conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and from a friend, Seiji Ozawa through the music of Brahms, Beethoven, Leonard Bernstein, Glenn Gould, Bartók and Mahler among others. In the book, the two listen to and analyze recordings of some of their favorite performances.

Murakami’s influence on music

While music has been the guide to Murakami’s writing, the author’s insane popularity has also been the source of various musical trends in the past. His book, “1Q84”, begins with “Sinfonietta” by Leoš Janácek broadcast over a taxi radio. The musical work, in fact, is a recurring theme that links the two protagonists. After the release of Murakami’s book, this piece of music became so famous that it sold as many copies in just one week as in the past 20 years combined.

To celebrate the 30th anniversary of his first novel, “Hear the Wind Sing,” a list of songs Murakami incorporated into the novel’s plot has been released as an album. Host of a radio show on Tokyo FM on music and running, Murakami owns more than 10,000 vinyl records and is very popular among his fans for his love of jazz, rock and classical music. There are several compilations made of the songs that the author frequently mentions and loves. For example, songs the author listens to before going to bed are known as Murakami’s Lullaby.

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