The Great Gatsby: Nick Carraway’s Playlist

Books are humanity in print
-Barbara W. Tuchman

Two weeks ago we premiered our very first fictional character’s playlist from the silver screen. Today marks our very first fictional character from the written word. We believe that reading can be the most visual of the arts, relying far more on the readers’ imagination. Readers visualize scenery, characters, architecture, voice inflection, accents, colors, sounds, and of course, music. To kick off our very first literature playlist, I chose a novel that I hope is familiar to all of us (especially with the recent news of the Gatsby mansion being demolished) and that is known to many as “The “Great American Novel”:

Published in 1925, The Great Gatsby highlights life after the first World War, a time known as the “roaring 20’s” when American society prospered amidst a soaring economy. The novel is narrated by Nick Carraway, a young bachelor wanting to learn the bond business. Nick moves to Long Island’s North Shore known as “West Egg” and rents a summer cottage next to the mansion owned by wealthy and mysterious Jay Gatsby, famous for his lavish parties. Nick becomes involved with several other wealthy individuals who spend their time going to parties in elegant estates and mansions. The imagery of these parties stand out the most in the novel and were truly representative of the “American dreams” of high society during the time period. The 1920’s were truly a time for celebration and nothing fit that mood better than jazz music.

As you can imagine, Nick Carraway attended many grand parties and danced the night away to the hits of the time such as Benny Goodman’s “Bugle Call Rag” and Glenn Miller’s “Farewell Blues”. Other jazz legends of the 1920’s and beyond (Ellington, Mingus, Gershwin) are truly essential music for this playlist.  And finally, Chopin’s “Nocturne” undoubtedly sets the mood for the finale of the novel in which Nick leaves for the Midwest, never to forget his summer spent on West Egg.

“So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past”


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