Literary Mixtape: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde


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: Robert Louis Stevenson’s two-faced mystery man (men?), Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

Ah, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. In Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic novella, the upstanding doctor Henry Jekyll, horrified by the dark corners of his own psyche, seeks to separate his evil side from his good one. He creates a potion to turn into Mr. Hyde, the evil version of himself, but the experiment fails to turn Dr. Jekyll into the purely good soul he had hoped it would, leaving him a conflicted mortal with a terrible habit. Hyde is violent and lustful, eventually taking over Jekyll’s life until the former is forced to end it all or succumb to the evil he could not control. Obviously, a mixtape for Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde would have to have two sides — one for daylight activities and one for dark deeds. Here’s what we think Dr. Jekyll would listen to while worrying, brewing potions, and transforming himself.

Side A: Dr. Henry Jekyll

“Hope There’s Someone” — Antony and the Johnsons This tender yet eerie song about mortality would appeal to both the fine gentleman and morbid existentialist in Jekyll. And when Antony sings that he’s “scared of the middle place,” we imagine Jekyll hanging his head to weep.

“God Only Knows” — The Beach Boys All upstanding gentlemen (or men who’d like others to think they’re upstanding) like the Beach Boys. It’s good, wholesome music for good, wholesome men — created by a guy who happened to have a little more pathos going on inside him than was initially apparent. If it sounds like Jekyll doth protest too much, well that’s just your opinion.

“The Weight of Lies” — The Avett Brothers If the family-friendly, goody two-shoes reputation of the Avett Brothers weren’t enough to endear them to Dr. Jekyll, we think he’d at least relate to this track: “Disappear from your hometown/ Go and find the people that you know/ Show them all your good parts/ Leave town when bad ones start to show…”

“If You’re Feeling Sinister” — Belle & Sebastian The eternally conflicted Dr. Jekyll is a classic Belle & Sebastian fan, even if seeing a minister couldn’t quite help his afflictions. Sigh, the pain of being a hopeless unbeliever.

“Strange Desire” — The Black Keys This song was probably written about a girl, but we doubt Jekyll will see it that way: “I don’t wanna go to hell/ But if I do, it’ll be ’cause of you/ And a young man’s gonna make mistakes/ Till he hits the brakes/ My heart’s on fire/ With a strange desire…”

Side B: Mr. Edward Hyde

“Sexx Laws” — Beck The ultimate lecher’s anthem — or, at least, pretty solidly contrary to a Victorian religious morality.

“Howlin’ for You” — The Black Keys Of course, Mr. Hyde would like some of the same bands as Dr. Jekyll — though perhaps his song selections would be a little different. This track might be a little more appealing to someone already over the deep end: “I must admit I can’t explain/ Any of these thoughts racing through my brain/ It’s true/ That baby, I’m howlin’ for you…”

“Monster” — Kanye West ft. Jay-Z, Rick Ross, Nicki Minaj & Bon Iver Because Hyde’s pretty pleased with his own monstrosity. And with company like this, who wouldn’t be?

“Climbing Up the Walls” — Radiohead This is what it sounds like inside Hyde’s head, as his own insanity sings him sweetly to sleep. And then devolves into reckless bellowing.

“Antichrist Superstar” — Marilyn Manson Hyde is meant to be evil incarnate, but we wonder if he ever has second thoughts. “Whose mistake am I anyway?/ Cut the head off/ Grows back hard/ I am the hydra/ Now you’ll see your star…”

Bonus Track: “Lord Have Mercy on My Soul” — Black Oak Arkansas An epic battle between good and evil that befits both the black and white iPods.