The Music of the Novels

The audiophile that I am, I’ve often wondered what music might accompany the novels of John Dos Passos. What music mirrors and complements the themes of his books? What music creates similar worlds? I think this is especially significant when contemplating the USA trilogy and Manhattan Transfer. Rhythm, pacing are so important to those works. Even amidst the economic struggle, the verve of American industry is omnipresent and positively charged.

When I think about the mood of the finale of USA and the crushing defeat and the onset of the Great Depression, I think about the musical end of Oliver Stone’s film Wall Street (1987). The End Title, composed by Steward Copeland, is an oppressive, dense piece. The long notes on violin and the powerful synthesizer pulses give the impression of immense buy cabergoline research chemical power. It’s easy to imagine the vast world of corporate New York City smothering Bud Fox. And the end of USA, which sees Charley Anderson’s crash and burn as well as the life of “Vag,” is a bitter one. It’s a situation wherein a small set of individuals are struggling against a monstrosity of political and economic forces. The End Title mixes well with Dos Passos’ world.

On a related note, I recently learned that Canadian progressive rock band Rush has a history of finding inspiration in the works of Dos Passos.  The songs “The Camera Eye,” “Grand Designs,” and “The Big Money” testify to this. Novelist Patrick Hicks wrote a fascinating article in Huffington Post on the literary and cultural influences on Rush.

-John Dos Passos Coggin