Literary Mixtape: Jo March


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: the second eldest (and most fiery) March sister, Jo.

Jo March is just about everyone’s favorite March sister in Louisa May Alcott’s acclaimed family novel Little Women. Tomboyish, strong-minded, smart as a whip, and an aspiring author, she balks at the nineteenth-century expectations of women in which she is trapped, and constantly wishes she could be fighting in the Civil War with her father. She speaks her mind without hesitation and doesn’t care what other people think, unladylike or no. Though she constantly rails against the idea of romantic love, Jo does eventually marry, discovering her feminine side and her wish for companionship. It’s well known that Jo was a foil for Alcott herself, who herself was a passionate feminist author — though she chose not to marry during her lifetime. Strong, confident and a total bookworm, here are the songs we think Jo March would burn her dress, write her plays, and make a name for herself to.

Stream the mixtape here.

“The Trapeze Swinger” — Iron and Wine

We imagine this as the song Jo plays when she thinks of Laurie — her childhood best friend who fell in love with her, and whom she ran away from. “Please remember me, happily/ By the rosebush laughing/ With bruises on my chin, the time when/ We counted every black car passing…” Oh, the simpler times.

“Rebels” — Drive By Truckers

This song is serious decision-making music. Jo might fire this baby up when taking that first step out the door.

“Stuck Between Stations” — The Hold Steady

Jo is a literary nerd, so we’re pretty confident that she’d appreciate this retelling of John Berryman’s death from the wordiest bar band ever.

“Monkey’s Paw” — Laurie Anderson

Look, if Jo were really as cool as all that, she’d totally listen to Laurie Anderson. Plus, we think this song could inspire some serious interpretive dance numbers among the sisters. Be careful what you wish for, girls.

“First Day of My Life” — Bright Eyes

For moments of realization, romantic or otherwise. Oh, come on, you were all teenagers once too.

“Judy and the Dream of Horses” — Belle & Sebastian

This is one of those tracks that every thoughtful teenager listens to nonstop for at least one week of her young life. Especially if she likes to read books late into the night and has a wild imagination.

“Sylvia Plath” — Ryan Adams

Just a little hero worship for a literary lady trying to make it in a tough world.

“It Ain’t Me, Babe” — Joan Baez and Bob Dylan

Though we’d argue that Jo is pretty much never weak and always strong, this song would reaffirm her convictions against marriage. Plus, what hip book nerd hasn’t gone through a Baez phase, not to mention a Dylan one? That’s what we thought.

“Be Here Now” — Ray LaMontagne

For keeping the faith, no matter what happens.

“Dog Days Are Over” — Florence + The Machine

Not only would Jo be totally into Florence in all her modern girl power glory, the beat of this song just makes us think about playing in the woods and rolling around with your best friend in the dirt, no matter how unladylike it may seem.

“Punk as Fuck” — The American Analog Set

Oh, you know it would happen. If she were around today, teenage Jo would so totally be an ironic twee pop princess with dark eyeliner, a smirk, and a little attitude for everyone.