What is a good song for chapter one in The Great Gatsby, and why?

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An older song from the late 1970s (released in 1980) called "Sailing" by Christopher Cross captures some of the feel of chapter one. In this chapter, Nick reunites with his cousin Daisy and his college friend Tom Buchanan and begins a "journey" to what we might call, as the song does, "never never" land.

A song about sailing on the seas of fantasy is particularly appropriate since Fitzgerald makes overt references to Homer's Iliad in his images of the billowing white dresses of Daisy and Jordan and the billowing white curtains in the room. The two woman are pictured almost as floating on a boat as they sit in their sail-like white dresses on an ottoman placed on a wine-colored carpet, a reference to Homer's "wine dark" seas.

Nick is about to sail off on an adventure that very much involves dreams and romance, if also tragedy. Certainly it can be argued that all the characters, not only Gatsby, are seeking a dream: Gatsby simply happens to know more precisely what his is.

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The Coldplay song "Paradise" would be a nice fit for opening chapter of The Great Gatsby.

This chapter is depicts Nick as coming east for a new start, leaving behind some disappointments, some tawdry gossip, and attempting to set out on a new path.

Additionally, we are introduced to Jordan, Tom, Daisy and we get a glimpse of Gatsby as he reaches out his arms on his balcony, reaching for something beyond his grasp. Each of these characters is wrapped up in the pursuit of a specific ideal (though that ideal turns out to be false for most of them).

The Coldplay song, "Paradise", is also about leaving disappointments behind and re-making a life; creating a better future. Another song that may fit, for similar reasons, is "Where the Streets Have No Name" by U2. This song explores a difficult spiritual pursuit somewhat akin to that of the characters in Gatsby, albeit more directly spiritual.

 

 

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