With Netflix’s live-action adaptation of the classic anime series premiering later this month on the 19th, the time is ripe for a resurgence of Cowboy Bebop nostalgia. Though the series has a wealth of unique and interesting personalities, this time I’ve decided to do something different: focusing not on its characters, but on Cowboy Bebop‘s soundtrack. The music of Yoko Kanno, after all, is essential to the show’s experience, and thankfully Netflix has decided to utilize her. If you’re not familiar, this article can serve as a great on-ramp.
While I’ve based these picks primarily on the overall mood of the music, trying to match it to the energy of each type, I’ve also tried to find other reasons why these songs fit, such as structure, instrumentation, scene usage, etc. Unlike with my past Enneagram articles, though, here we are dealing with music, not people, so typing is even harder, if indeed it even makes sense to type a song at all. Keep in mind this article is an exercise in fun, not a serious attempt to explain or explore the Enneagram. My other articles do a better job at that, but I also have a list of recommended resources at the end of this one.
It also bears stating that Bebop‘s soundtrack is a lot more diverse than nine songs, as there are over four albums representing the genius of composer Yoko Kanno and her band the Seatbelts. I urge anyone not already familiar with this music to explore it, as it’s one of the show’s most memorable and defining aspects.
Here you go, space cowboys…
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“Piano Bar 1”: Though jaunty and upbeat, there’s something precise and methodical about the piano music in this piece that resonates with the wholesome, no nonsense, by-the-numbers approach that type Ones often take to life. Every note feels deliberate and exactly in its place.
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“Waltz for Zizi”: Intimate and sentimental, this waltz is a perfect music accompaniment for type Twos, whose personalities tend to be warm, loving, and devoted. The piece also tends to be used in scenes about relationships, though not always romantic ones, and it is through relationships that Twos tend to pursue what they need.
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“Tank!”: Type Threes are the most image-conscious, showing the world their ambition, capability, and charisma. What better Bebop song for them than the show’s theme music, which draws us in, puts its best face forward, and sells us on the show’s dynamic energy?
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“Space Lion”: One of the more melancholy pieces in the show, and also one of the most romantic, “Space Lion” projects a mood of longing and yearning which is perfect for type Fours. It’s used at the end of the “Jupiter Jazz” arc, whose tragic ending is also fitting for this type. The odd nonsense vocal elements in its second half reflect Fours’ tendency towards daydreaming and fantasy.
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“Forever Broke”: This song evokes a sparse, empty, and wide-open landscape that speaks to type Fives’ need for space and time alone to process their thoughts and other needs. With only a single instrument — the acoustic guitar — it also reflects Fives’ tendency for an exterior minimalism which hides an interior complexity.
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“The Egg and I”: While not exactly call-and-response, this piece contains certain musical phrases that tend to echo each other, reflecting type Six’s tendency to be attracted to (or repelled by) cohesive group leadership. The song title also seems to nod to this dynamic, hinting at this type’s loyalty and need for security alongside others.
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“Mushroom Hunting”: If this song’s energetic happiness aren’t enough to aptly represent type Sevens, the lyrics also name several countries and thus signify Sevens’ desire for travel and new experiences. It’s also used in an episode focusing on Ed, easily the most joyful and enthusiastic character in the show.
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“RUSH”: This piece has one of the highest and strongest energy levels in Bebop’s soundtrack, and is used during an early Spike fight scene, perfect for type Eight’s intensity and affinity for confrontation. The name of the song can also be interpreted as a command, which is a signature Eight communication style, as well as being a strong verb.
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“Spokey Dokey”: Warm, easygoing, and expansive, there’s just something about this harmonica piece that speaks of type Nine’s personability. The song tends to meander, mirroring Nines’ diffuse and often unassertive qualities. It conjures the image of a welcoming fire at night under the stars, with plenty of room for anyone who wants to join the group and enjoy the melody.
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Of course, there is room for disagreement in many of these typings, and as I admitted before, it’s quite possible that typing music is ultimately meaningless. It’s certainly not what the Enneagram is for; although I do believe that each type has its own energy that can be reflected, in some incomplete and fragmentary way, in music.
For more information on the Enneagram in general, or about the nine types, there are several amazing books on the subject; I personally recommend those by Beatrice Chestnut, Don Riso and Russ Hudson, and Chris Heuertz. For a quick Internet reference, the Enneagram Institute’s website is the most in-depth and reliable, and the podcast Typology is fun, accessible, and full of wisdom and insight. Other great podcasts are The Art of Growth and The Enneagram Journey.