Haruki Murakami is known for making cultural references in his stories, including allusions to the Fab Four. The bestselling Japanese author of A Wild Sheep Chase and Kafka on the Shore uses the lyrics to the 1965 Beatles hit “Yesterday” as the cornerstone of his newest short story, also titled “Yesterday,” which appears in this week’s issue of The New Yorker.
Narrator Tanimura opens the story by remarking, “As far as I know, the only person ever to put Japanese lyrics to the Beatles song ‘Yesterday’ (and to do so in the distinctive Kansai dialect, no less) was a guy named Kitaru.” Tanimura then relates the few months during college when he befriended Kitaru, explaining, “Every time I hear ‘Yesterday,’ scenes and conversations with him well up in my mind.”
Murakami previously paid homage to the Beatles through his 1987 novel Norwegian Wood, which borrowed both its title and its “soundtrack” from the track of the same name on the band’s Rubber Soul album. Murakami also named his short story “Drive My Car,” which was published in the Japanese magazine Bungeishunju last year, after the song on the same album.
The English translation of Murakami’s newest novel, Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage, is scheduled to be unveiled at this summer’s Edinburgh Book Festival.
You can read the full text of “Yesterday” here.