Literary Mixtape: Atticus Finch


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: everyone’s favorite lawyer, Harper Lee’s Atticus Finch.

In To Kill a Mockingbird, Atticus Finch is the only lawyer in the “tired old town” of Maycomb, Alabama during the Great Depression — and almost the only person as well — committed to racial equality. He has a strong sense of morality and justice that he spends much of the novel carefully passing on to his children, Jem and Scout, and a dry sense of humor that makes him rather endearing. Quiet and pensive, he is without a doubt the novel’s moral center, and his goodness is so radiant that there are actually real instructional books for lawyers about how to be more like him. Atticus Finch is pretty much the epitome of the good father, so we think he’d have an iPod full of dad rock. Here’s what we think he’d defend Tom Robinson, stand his ground, and teach his children right from wrong to.

Stream the mixtape here.

“The Ballad of Donald White” — Bob Dylan

Not only would Atticus be into Bob Dylan, we think he’d dig the long explanatory story-ballads best — particularly this one, about a convict explaining his past. After all, what lawyer — or what good man invested in justice — wouldn’t want to hear that tale?

“Imagine” — Jack Johnson (John Lennon Cover)

Everyone loves this song, so it’s kind of an easy choice, but we think a man who dedicates his life to racial equality and upholding justice would be spending many of his nights imagining right along with John Lennon.

“Cocaine Blues” — Johnny Cash

We think Atticus would have pretty much the whole Johnny Cash collection, given that he’s a lovable outlaw with a heart of gold — not to mention a dry sense of humor, like someone else’s we know.

“We Take Care of Our Own” — Bruce Springsteen

The ultimate in dad rock, there’s no way Atticus wouldn’t love him some patriotic, honest, bombastic songs by the Boss.

“Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard” — Paul Simon

We think the lawyer in Atticus would always trying to find out what we’ve all been wondering for years — what were they doing down by the schoolyard?

“Don’t Matter” — Akon

We like to think that Atticus would listen to a little bit of R&B on top of all his dad rock. He’d probably be sorry to hear that after so many years, people are still writing songs about prejudice and fighting for their right to love.

“Dreamer” — Ozzy Osbourne

Atticus can get a little hard sometimes, so we think he’d have run across some Ozzy in his musical travels — not that this song in particular is the least bit challenging. But we think the track, about sitting on the outside and dreaming of the end of bigotry, would resonate with Atticus, who wants to get right in there and fight.

“A Change is Gonna Come” — Sam Cooke

If this song was only around when Atticus lived, we know he’d be all about it — it’s arguably the most representative track of the Civil Rights Movement, of which Atticus would have been a big supporter. Plus, Sam Cooke has the best set of pipes around, and we know a man like Atticus would appreciate that.

“Lean on Me” — Bill Withers

The fact that Atticus is the moral pillar of the town notwithstanding, pretty much everyone loves this song. And we can just see him crooning it to his kids.

“I Won’t Back Down” — Tom Petty

Okay, so this one’s a little literal, but let’s face it: everyone’s dad listens to Tom Petty, and as far as backing down goes, we think even Atticus might need a little bolstering everyone once in a while. Don’t do it, man.