Growing up, I loved records. I had many, many 45s (the smaller ones with the big hole in the middle) and dreamed of someday having my own jukebox. Technology changed and records went away (and that phrase nicely avoids my years of complaining about that fact.) Given my love of both music and random playing of songs, one would think that I would have jumped on the ipod wagon early. But I didn’t. I didn’t like how expensive they were and how everyone had one. But mostly I didn’t like how individual they were.
One important thing to me is that music be communal. Back in the day, if you wanted to hear music you had to create it using your voice or a musical instrument. Then there was the radio, which played music, but for a lot of people to listened to. After the invention of the phonograph, people have always had ways of dragging their favorite music with them. But until the digitalization of music, it took effort to bring your music along. Record players weren’t that portable, cassette tapes took up a lot of space and CDs scratched easily. Now that music can be bits and bytes, people can have thousands of songs in a tiny device.
And that is my point. All those people listening to ipods on the train in the morning are picking and choosing what they want to hear. It’s individualized, sure, and they get to hear what songs they want without commercials. But I can’t help lament the loss of the local radio station as a place to hear music. I realize I’m mourning something that doesn’t really exist anymore, thanks to Clear Channel and the deregulation of the airwaves. Regardless, I think our communities suffer when they lack media outlets that tie the entire community together. And that friends, is why I have resisted the ipod.
The other reason I never bought an ipod is that I never had a lot of use for it. When I am walking hither and yon, I don’t like to have music in my ears. I like to think, or I sing to myself. Most of the time I already can hear music in my head, I don’t need a device. I also never listen to music while I exercise. I need to be alert, and music blocks the sounds that keep me tuned in to what is going on around me. Plus, it is hard to get in a meditative state when I’m fiddling with a device. And all of you kids are going to go deaf, with that music playing too loudly in your ears all the time.
But then they came out with the ipod touch. My co-worker showed me how it worked and I was mesmerized. “We are living in the future!” I gasped. Because my tax refund was large this year, I drank the Kool-Aid and ordered my own. And it is magical.
Here, I’m trying to get a picture of the engraving I chose. It didn’t turn out, but I like the picture anyway.