From decade to decade and dusk till dawn, the last name Gatsby is passed down between generations like a bottomless flute champagne glass. I invite you inside the mansion to get a closer look, or rather listen, to the empty allure and sparkle of 1925 New York High Society. Like the tragic hero who walked the halls, or the evergreen light across the ocean, music knows no era. So whether it be 1920 or 2019, jump into the fountain of the ethereal in the Mansion’s backyard and take a listen to these records.
1. Connan Mockasin: “I’m the Man, That Will Find You”
For a subdued, champagney evening at the mansion, or a late night drive in Nick Caraway’s Dodge, take a chance on this track. “I’m the Man, That Will Find You,” understands the seduction for the richer side of life. Growling, electronic vocals dance with an underwater up-tempo bassline. Connan Mockasin, with his platinum blonde and sultry album cover would be the talk of the 1920 inner circle. Like Daisy’s iconic silver, flapper headband or string of pearls, Mockasin invites you to “be my medal, and I will wear you all night, all night long.”
2. Pokey LaFarge: “Something in the Water”
Pokey LaFarge’s 2015 album Something in the Water is one of culture’s best kept secrets. He draws on the folksy, old-fashioned midwest to write a love song to the women of the 1920s. Even though this is a hymn for the American backcountry, there is an undeniable aspect of chaos that belongs in 1925 New York City. With a bluesy background vocal and slow-moving drum, this song could be the ghost that creeps through the halls of the Jay Gatsby estate.
3. Ariel Pink: “Another Weekend”
There were plenty of nights buried in the backyard at Gatsby’s or swept away by housekeeping the next morning. Ariel Pink’s “Another Weekend” captures that feeling of purposeless drifting from party to party shared by Gatsby and every generation thereafter. Pink describes the hollowness of the dinner party in saying, “another weekend I can’t rewind, another day not working for me.” The mellow, muted guitar and whistles are the perfect vessel for an existential crisis amidst the noise of your Saturday night.
4. Lou Reed: “Perfect Day”
“Just a perfect day. You made me forget myself. I thought I was someone else, someone good.” Released on his 1972 album, Lou Reed sings an ode to the day and to the person who turn him into the man he wants to be. For both Gatsby and Lou, there’s an understanding that all good days have bad endings. A song full of fleeting vignettes of an afternoon bring out the sadness that follows happiness. For Gatsby, everyday is a perfect day.
5. Charles Trenet: “La Mer”
In 1946, Trenet released his take on Roland Gerbeau’s “La Mer,” later redone and marketed to American Society as “Somewhere Beyond the Sea.” There’s a deep-rooted and possessive love which Trenet sings for the water. He is stuck on what lies beyond the dark ocean expanse, as is Gatsby in his ritual night-watch for his young love on the other side of the harbor. Both Trenet and Gatsby get lost in the hope that sits on the other side of the dock, wondering till the day they die what could have been.
Fitzgerald writes, “I was within and without, simultaneously enchanted and repelled by the inexhaustible variety of life.” The same can be said of music. An album that can break your heart at one corner of the record store and another that can make it whole again. Music, like the mansion phantom buried in the sands of wealth is what seems to linger after both the end of the party, and the end of an era.