If you’ve ever wondered what your favorite literary characters might be listening to while they save the world/contemplate existence/get into trouble, or hallucinated a soundtrack to go along with your favorite novels, well, us too. But wonder no more! Here, we sneak a look at the hypothetical iPods of some of literature’s most interesting characters. What would be on the personal playlists of Holden Caulfield or Elizabeth Bennett, Huck Finn or Harry Potter, Tintin or Humbert Humbert? Something revealing, we bet. Or at least something danceable. Read on for a cozy reading soundtrack, character study, or yet another way to emulate your favorite literary hero. This week: Salinger’s number two angst man, Seymour Glass.
A brilliant scholar, particularly interested in the world’s religions, Seymour Glass, like most of the other Glass siblings in the Salinger universe, was a child prodigy — he even went on to become a professor at Columbia when he was only 20. One of the most enigmatic characters in literature, Seymour nonchalantly kills himself at the end of “A Perfect Day for Bananafish,” an event that is mostly unexplained. We do know, however, that he has returned from serving in WWII, that he holds his wife Muriel in come contempt for being a “vulgar, destructive” woman, and that he has a soft spot for childish innocence and surrealistic stories. Intellectual and angst-ridden as he is, we think Seymour would listen to a variety of genres, particularly the more erudite side of sad sack indie rock and weird crooners. Here’s what we think Seymour Glass would scoff, sunbathe, and discuss the subtleties of banana fever to.
“Gardenhead / Leave Me Alone” — Neutral Milk Hotel
Hyper-intelligent, angst-ridden child prodigy, you say? Weird, literary indie rock royalty, we prescribe.
“Shady Lane” — Pavement
We think the eyebrow-raiser in Seymour would enjoy this song immensely, if only for the world religions expert-friendly chorus: “Oh my god, oh your god, oh his god, oh her god/ It’s everybody’s god, it’s everybody’s god, it’s everybody’s god, it’s everybody’s god…”
“Banking on a Myth” — Andrew Bird
Seymour would appreciate both the wholesome preciousness and the offbeat nature of Andrew Bird, and we can imagine him getting really caught up in Bird’s looping techniques, which seems like the kind of thing that might eclipse the music entirely in Seymour’s mind. That said, he’d still listen.
“Funny Little Frog” — Belle & Sebastian
Not only would Seymour be a fan of the indie poppers in general, we think this song makes a good companion for surreal summer stories about bananafish and playing games with little girls. After all, the story of the funny little frog is up next.
“Crazy In Love” (Beyoncé cover) — Antony & the Johnsons
We think the slightly off-kilter, socially distant Seymour would love this pretty, mournful cover of Beyoncé’s hit single. It’s just the right mixture of irony and deep genuine feeling to keep him interested.
“Troubled Waters” — Michael Hurley
Insular, judgmental Seymour would also have a soft spot for old hippie with an edge Michael Hurley, who manages to be silly, dramatic, and totally hokey in turns without breaking a sweat.
“Lion in a Coma” — Animal Collective
All the obtuse young men love Animal Collective. What more can we say?
“Jesus, etc.” — Wilco
Another song for the religious studies geek in Seymour, we also think he would be a fan of Wilco’s whole catalogue, dad rock or no. After all, he does have excellent taste.
“I Was Never Young” — Of Montreal
What child prodigy wouldn’t be attracted to this song? Especially, we venture to suggest, our dear departed Seymour: “Ever since I was a kid I’ve been a brutal basket cast/ Ever since I was a kid I’ve been a brooding basket case…”
“Another Saturday Night” — Sam Cooke
We don’t know about you, but anyone we know with even a modicum of taste is (or has been) deeply into Sam Cooke, so why should Seymour be any different? We all know he’s got a good head on his shoulders.