Louis Armstrong- A Kiss to Build a Dream On

These lyrics portray the scene Nick describes in chapter six of Gatsby and Daisy's kiss. This kiss that Daisy and Gatsby shared five years ago was literally "a kiss to build a dream on.” The intimacy of the kiss represents the love they once shared for each other and the love that Gatsby lived for. It was his drive to pursue his desire to be with Daisy once again. The verse, “When I'm alone with my fancies...Ill be with you. Weaving romances...making believe they're true,” applies to Gatsby’s fantasies. Even when Daisy rejected him as show on pg 134 where Nick says, “But with every word she was drawing further and further into herself, so he gave that up, and only the dead dream fought on as the afternoon slipped away, trying to touch what was no longer tangible, struggling unhappily, undespairingly, toward that lost voice across the room,” Gatsby insists that Daisy never loved Tom. Overall, the song represents the progression from Gatsby and Daisy’s kiss to his downfall of not accepting reality.


Ruth Etting- Funny, Dear, What Love Can Do

You have me, I have you,
What a consolation;
Love is true, skies are blue,
Love's a revelation.

Funny how we find the sunshine,
Funny how the skies turn blue,
Funny, it all comes at one time;
Funny, dear, what love can do.

Everybody chases rainbows,
Looking for a bluebird blue,
Most of us in time find rainbows,
Funny, dear, what love can do.

Yesterday was a day
Cold as in November,
But today turned to May
With your sweet surrender.

Funny how my dream of heaven
Proved to me that dreams come true,
When you're in my arms, it's heaven,
Funny, dear, what love can do.


This song is a good representation of the weather symbolism in the novel. Specifically, the lyrics refer to Gatsby and Daisy’s reunification. At first, “the day agreed upon was pouring rain,” but later, after the two reconcile, the room is described to have “twinkle-bells of sunshine (89).” Just like the song, the sunshine is used to symbolize happiness. The summer season is also used in the book to symbolize new beginnings. In the introduction, Nick says, “And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer” Nick describes the day of Gatsby’s death by saying, “The night had made a sharp difference in the weather and there was an autumn flavor in the air.” Similarly, the coldness of November in the song is used with negative connotation. The ideas of sunshine and cool weather representing good times and coldness symbolizing bad times is evident throughout The Great Gatsby.



Irving Berlin- Puttin' On The Ritz

Much of The Great Gatsby focuses on the glamour of the 1920s. The descriptions of the people at Gatsby’s parties and the people in New York City are similar to the descriptions in this song. Like the people in the song, Nick says, “I was immediately struck by the number of young English-men dotted about; all well-dressed…(42).”  The song also signifies how the people during the time period were very concerned with their appearance and social life and were just looking for a good time. A description of Gatsby’s party “The bar is in full swing, and floating rounds of cocktails permeate the garden outside, until the air is alive with chatter and laughter, and casual innuendo and introductions forgotten on the spot, and enthusiastic meetings between women who never knew each other’s names,” shows the care-free nature of the people in the 1920s.


 Noël Coward- Poor Little Rich Girl

This song describes Daisy’s character and what her life is like throughout The Great Gatsby. The imagery of this song describes the parties and the glamorous yet superficial lives that Daisy, Jordan, and Tom led. Their lives have no real substance to them- ‘Cocktails and laughter, but what comes after? Nobody knows.’ The line ‘You're weaving love into a magic pattern’ describes how Daisy’s love life became entangled between Tom and Gatsby. The lines ‘By dancing much faster/ You're chancing disaster’ show how towards the end of The Great Gatsby everything spiraled out of control and a disaster did happen, which resulted in Gatsby’s death. The phrase ‘Laughing at danger’ shows how Daisy didn’t have to worry about danger because she could always retreat behind her money and had money to save her reputation.


 Duke Ellington- Lost in Meditation

I am LOST IN MEDITATION
And my reverie
Brings you back to me
For in my imagination
Love has lingered on
As though you'd never gone.
This is just a dream that cannot last
When the magic of this mood has passed.
So I sit in meditation
Trying to pretend this mood will never end.
I am LOST IN MEDITATION
And my reverie
Brings you back to me
For in my imagination
Love has lingered on
As though you'd never gone.
This is just a dream that cannot last
When the magic of this mood has passed.
So I sit in meditation
Trying to pretend this mood will never end.

This song portrays Mr. Wilson’s blindness towards Myrtle’s detachment from him. Myrtle was having an affair with Tom, and she was unconcerned with her husband. “She smiled slowly and, walking through her husband as if he were a host, shook hands with Tom, looking him flush in the eye” (26). The lines ‘I am lost in meditation/ And my reverie/ Brings you back to me/ For in my imagination/ Love has lingered on/As though you'd never gone’ describes Wilson after Myrtle’s death. “Some man was talking to him in a low voice and attempting, from time to time, to lay a hand on his shoulder, but Wilson neither heard nor saw” (138). Wilson was in a daze after Myrtle was killed, and although he knew that Myrtle did have an affair, he was still unsuspecting of Tom. He was ‘lost in meditation’ concerning Myrtle and was unaware of what was really going on.
 


Duke Ellington- Something to Live For

The song "Something to Live For" is a representation of Gatsby. The lines 'I have almost ev'ry thing a human could desire/Cars and houses, bear-skin rugs to lie before my fire' represent how Gatsby was able to attain wealth and success in his life. He was able to go from rags to riches, all for his dream of Daisy, and so that he would be able to marry her. 'But there's something missing/ Something isn't there/ It seems I'm never kissing the one whom I care for' shows that Daisy actually isn't there, and that's what is missing from Gatsby's life. 'Oh, what wouln't I give for/Someone who'd take my life and make it seem/gay as they say it ought to be' describes how Gatsby would give anything to be with Daisy and to be happy with her; to go back in time to the way things used to be. Daisy is what Gatsby was living for. 'I want Something To Live For/ Someone to make my life an adventurous dream' is what Daisy is to Gatsby, she's what he lived for.


Louis Armstrong- Autumn in New York

The song "Autumn in New York" represents the significance of the seasons in The Great Gatsby. It also contains imagery and descriptions of New York, which was the setting of the novel. Lines in the song such as ‘Glittering crowds and shimmering clouds;’ and words such as ‘Jaded Rouges,’ ‘Ritz,’ ‘gleaming rooftops,’ ‘exotic,’ and ‘divine’ evoke feelings of the diction of The Great Gatsby. It was the end of summer and the beginning of autumn (pg. 153) when Gatsby was killed. The lines ‘Autumn in New York/ Is often mingled with pain’ show the sorrow and pain that Nick feels over Gatsby’s death. The line ‘Dreamers with empty hands’ represents Nick’s feelings on Gatsby. It shows that Gatsby was a dreamer but ended up not getting what he wanted, Daisy.

The Great Gatsby takes place during the 1920s, and that time period was referred to as ‘The Jazz Age.’ Jazz music, then, was obviously a very important part of that era. The Great Gatsby is a book that is filled with emotion, and a way that we thought of to portray that would be through music. We chose songs to represent the emotions, feelings, and lifestyles of characters; to represent the symbolism throughout the novel; and to represent the tone of The Great Gatsby in general. The songs that we chose are all from the 1920s to the 1950s, so they are relevant to the time period of the novel.

Sources used:

Lyrics Time. 24 Jan. 2009 <http://www.lyricstime.com/>.
Duke Ellington Lyrics. 23 Jan. 2009 <http://www.allthelyrics.com/lyrics/duke_ellington/16_most_requested_songs_12/>.
Lyrics. 22 Jan. 2009 <http://www.geocities.com/paris/cafe/8636/songs.html>.