Ghostwritten, Tokyo, and Jazz

Last month, I read Ghostwritten by David Mitchell with my Cloud Atlas reading buddies. (Right now I think it’s proper to call them my David Mitchell reading buddies. Hehe!) This book is David Mitchell’s first novel, consisting of nine different stories but they are somehow linked through chance and fate. One of my favorite chapters is Tokyo, the second chapter of this amazing novel.

“No, in Tokyo you have to make your place inside your head.”


Tokyo’s ending, being hopeful and sweet, is one of the reasons why I like it. Also, Satoru, the central character in this chapter, is a musician. He plays the tenor saxophone. If a story involves music, there’s a greater chance that I’ll like it. But I love it more because of Satoru’s outlook about people making their own places inside their heads. And this quote below is how he told us about his love for jazz.

“My place comes into existence through jazz. Jazz makes a fine place. The colours and feelings there come not from the eye but from sounds. It’s like being blind but seeing more.”

So here is my Ghostwritten: Tokyo playlist. I compiled these so that I could somehow see, feel and hear that fine place inside Satoru’s head. You know, all that jazz. 🙂

1. It Never Entered My Mind by Miles Davis

I put on a very rare Miles Davis recording that Takeshi had discovered in a box of mixed-quality discs which he’d picked up at an auction last month out in Shinigawa.

It was a gem. You never entered my mind was blissful and forlorn. Some faultless mute-work, the trumpet filtered down to a single ray of sound. The brassy sun lost behind the clouds.

(Hey! This one’s from Petersburg, a conversation between Tatyana and Margarita at The Shamrock Pub.)

‘More like Miles Davis than Miles Davis,’ she murmured.

‘Wasn’t he the first man to fly across the Atlantic?’

She hadn’t heard me. ‘The brassy sun lost behind the clouds.’

2. I’m a Fool to Want You by Billie Holiday (from the Lady in Satin album)

I felt in a Billie Holiday mood. ‘Lady in Satin‘, recorded at night with heroin and a bottle of gin the year before she died. A doomed, Octoberish oboe of a voice.

3. Some Other Spring by Billie Holiday

This is my place. Another Billie Holiday disc. She sang ‘Some Other Spring‘, and the audience clapped until they too faded into the heat of a long-lost Chicago summer night.

 4. Left Alone by Mal Waldron

It was a Mal Waldron time of day. Every note of ‘Left Alone‘ fell, a drop of lead into a deep well. Jackie McLean‘s saxophone circled in the air, so sad it could barely leave the ground.

‘The music was “Left Alone” by Mal Waldron. Would you like to hear it again?’

‘Would you mind?’

”Course I wouldn’t mind… Mal Waldron‘s one of my gods. I kneel down to him every time I go to the temple.’

 5. After the Rain by Duke Pearson

I can’t describe women, not like Takeshi or Koji. But if you know Duke Pearson‘s ‘After the Rain‘, she was as beautiful and pure as that.

6. All the Things You Are and 7. A Night in Tunisia by Charlie Parker

I put on a Charlie Parker anthology, with the volume up loud to drown out the ringing of metal. Charlie Parker, molten and twisting, no stranger to cruelty. ‘Relaxin’ at Camarillo’, ‘How Deep is the Ocean?’, ‘All the Things You Are‘, ‘Out of Nowhere’, ‘A Night in Tunisia‘.

8. A Caddy for Daddy by Hank Mobley

This lunchtime Mr Fujimoto was looking for something Lee Morgan-ish. I recommended Hank Mobley‘s ‘A Caddy for Daddy‘, which he promptly bought. I know his tastes. Anything on the loony side of funky.

9. Darn That Dream and 10. My Funny Valentine by Jim Hall and Bill Evans (from the Undercurrent album)

Hey, hey, this is my place, remember. Time for jazz.

Undercurrent‘ by Jim Hall and Bill Evans. An album of water, choppy and brushed by the wind, at other times silent and slow under trees. On other songs, chords glinting on inland seas.

The girl was there, too, swimming naked on her back, buoyed by the currents.

11. Take the “A” Train by Duke Ellington

I dug out some old big band Duke Ellington. It reminds me of wind-up gramophones, silly moustaches and Hollywood musicals from before war. It usually cheers me up. ‘Take the “A” Train‘, rattling along in goofy optimism.

12. In a Sentimental Mood by John Coltrane and Duke Ellington

‘I’m not good. John Coltrane is good! Wait a sec-‘ I grabbed a copy of John Coltrane and Duke Ellington, playing ‘In a Sentimental Mood‘. Smoky and genuflective. We listened to it together for a while. So many things I wanted to say to her.

13. My Funny Valentine, 14. You Don’t Know What Love Is and 15. I Get Along Without You Very Well by Chet Baker

I thought about what she had said as I put on a Chet Baker disc. A trumpet with nowhere urgent to be and all day to get there. And his voice, zennish murmurings in the soft void. My funny valentine, You don’t know what love is, I get along without you very well.

Yesterday, I listened to these songs all day. I hope you find time to listen to each composition too. (Especially you, my reading buddies. 😛 )


7 thoughts on “Ghostwritten, Tokyo, and Jazz

  1. I listened to a few Miles Davis as per your recommendation. And I kinda like Freddie Freeloader, it sounds very jaunty. Like I wanna put on a flapper dress and shimmy. XD

    Anyway, I always enjoy it when you make posts like this. 🙂

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