Thursday, March 15, 2012

What's in Your iPod?

What's in Your iPod?
Man Martin

Walter Isaacson looked into Steve Jobs’ iPod while writing a biography on him, and what he found was Dylan, Beatles, and some selected Rolling Stones. I do not have cool stuff like this on my iPod. In the unlikely event my biographer would want to look in it, I shudder to think what he would discover there. In the somewhat more probable event that somebody mistook my iPod for his, I can imagine him shrieking and ripping the ear bud out in revulsion and shock.

I resisted for the longest time getting one of these devices, being a techno-troglodyte, by golly, and proud of it, the sort of person who secretly misses the whirr and click of a rotary dial phone. (And what’s with text messaging? Why does anyone need text messaging? You’re holding a phone.) But my daughter has persuaded me to begin running again and among the assorted paraphernalia of shoes and ibuprofen, I have acquired an iPod nano. Let me say, I love it. I’ve loaded it with all my favorite music, the sort of stuff that out of a decent respect for the feelings of others, I cannot listen to in the house any more than I would smoke cigars made out of old tires and bath-mats. But running along, with my ear-bud safely jammed in, I am in a private world of favorite music without giving offense to anyone; each song that comes up is like being greeted by beloved but half-forgotten friend.
This is music of simple, direct emotion, simply and directly expressed. It’s the sort of thing that actually sounds better on an 8-track. Take a lyric like: “I'll see you every night Babe, I'll woo you every day, I'll be your regular Daddy, If you'll put that gun away.” In two short lines Al Dexter tells not only of undying love but a reasonable desire for self-preservation. And when I get to the end of “He Stopped Loving Her Today,” my heart simply soars. (My wife says I’m just glad it’s over, but that’s not it.)
If someone ever does write my biography, I’ll have to buy a decoy iPod and load it up with Brandenburg concertos and Wagner, but this is the music that speaks to me; it’s the music I listened to as a little boy when I’d sneak into my mother’s record collection, old LP’s as shiny as a palmetto bug and 45’s with wide holes in the center that needed a special adapter to play. You’d set the needle on the groove, and there would come a short prelude of hiss and crackle and then a song would emerge, like “Cattle Call,” “the cattle are prowling, the coyotes are howling.” I grew up in small towns where cows were a familiar sight, but I would never have thought to describe their desultory plodding as “prowling” but no matter – when Eddie Arnold gets to the part he yodels, it just sends shivers up my spine. (Yodeling! Why aren’t there any more songs with yodeling?)
I will never - and never attempt to – convert anyone else to my taste in music. You can’t play someone a tune like “Ghost Riders in the Sky,” and expect him to get how great it is when Vaughan Monroe sings, “all at once a mighty herd of red eyed cows he saw, a-plowing through the ragged sky and up the cloudy draw.” A song about demon cows is flying through the air just silly, unless, like me, you’ve listened to it from the time your were five – and even when the radio was playing – and you were listening to – Dylan and The Beatles – that melody and those lyrics had sealed themselves into your bloodstream and were always in the background of your imagination, so that even at the age of 52, running beside your daughter who’s listening to more sensible lyrics like, “Me and Allah go back like cronies, I don’t got to be fake, cause he is my homie,” you can shiver at the dire warning, that unless you change your ways you’ll end up chasing “the devil’s herd across the endless skies,” and the childhood afternoon stuck inside during a North Florida summer squall comes back to you, and your heart beats at that same certain rate it did four decades ago.

Man Martin's first novel, Days of the Endless Corvette, won a Georgia Author of the Year Award.  His second novel, Paradise Dogs, was selected as "required reading" by The New York Post.  He is currently at work on a third.  He lives in Atlanta, where he writes, teaches, and jogs while listening to execrable country-western music.  He blogs at


Augusta Scattergood said...

Great post. I wasn't sure where we were going with this music thing, but love it.

eknokes said...

Love this. Makes me feel better about my Creedence Clearwater ringtone.

snow white said...

new era hatscan be found in different types and shapes. The particular plastic new era seattleare really easy to be removed. For example to open metallic cover of a ale flask, hello kitty cap one has to utilize a package opener. But, a new plastic cap may be opened by hand in no time and there is no need to use a bottle garage door opener hardware. All these caps are manufactured to your specific need of the purchaser. The
hello kitty fitted caps are also available in a variety of colors.
It is issued by: