Independent Clauses | n. —unusual words about underappreciated music

No iPod

October 1, 2006

No iPod

I don’t own an iPod.

There- I said it. Yes, by scenester standards I am now unhip, not “with it”, and musically illiterate, but it’s the truth. In fact, I don’t even own an mp3 player of any variety. I am a CD man. And instead of crippling my music listening abilities, as some would argue that living without the white ear plugs does, I would argue that the absence of Apple has enhanced my listening experience. By not having music with me every second of every day, I treasure music much more than the average hipster.

When I was a little kid, I wasn’t allowed to play video games- my wise parents made me go outside instead, and for that I am grateful. But whenever I went over to a friend’s house, all we did was play video games. In fact, at that time I probably would have told you that one of my favorite things to do was play video games, even though I didn’t physically own a console. The very absence of video games made me love them.

As I grew older, my parents let me buy my own video game consoles, and I was ecstatic. I’ll never forget my ridiculous love of the Super Nintendo I bought- I became a Super Nintendo connoisseur (in case you were wondering, I can still talk your ear off about the SNES). I loved it. I loved it so much that I got an N64, and I loved some of those games. We actually traded the SNES for a Playstation (I kick myself every single time I remember the transaction- you just shouldn’t sell pieces of your soul like that), and I became an RPG nut. But my love for RPGs wasn’t as strong as my love for the SNES. And because there were so many options open to me in the video game world, each new console decreased my love of video games. I had hit a glut in supply, and my demand dropped off because of it.

That’s the nasty trend I’m seeing in music-listening these days. People have become so used to having music with them all the time that the original, spastic, all-out iPod-commercial-esque joy that came with music has been lost. Music has become itemized in the eyes of listeners, and that’s a tragedy. Music has been an item for a long time in the eyes of the business world, but it’s a new trend that consumers see music as a line of text on a mechanical box.

One of the qualities of being an item is that an item is disposable. You don’t throw away CDs- you just don’t. They’re more than just items. You delete old iTunes purchases off your iPod when they don’t please you any longer.

I’m not saying that people don’t enjoy music any more, because they most certainly do. But the whole world has become single-obsessed. It’s rare that anyone listens to an entire album straight through on an iPod, because the ability to skip parts of songs, full songs, whole albums and entire bands is just too tempting. I guess it’s catering to our ADD mentality, but I don’t like it.

What I do like is coming home after a long day of no music and letting my stress melt away with some Hotel Lights or Meryll or Postal Service or Appleseed Cast. Because I haven’t experienced music walking to class, during class, during lunch, on the way to work, and during work, I feel revived and refreshed by good music. It’s like a reward that I made it through the day.

And another thing: I like the feel of putting a CD on the player and listening to it all the way through. Even if it’s a mix-tape (mix-CD just doesn’t have the ring), the effort put into it makes it much more than an iPod shuffle mix. It’s a real, tangible experience, the mix-tape. In short, I love the experience that music gives me. iPods jeopardize that experience. Will I eventually get an iPod? I don’t know. It is a handy traveling device….but I don’t travel enough to make the price worth it. I’ll stick with my CD book,CD player, and oversized, noise-canceling headphones.

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Stephen Carradini and friends write reviews of bands that are trying to make the next step in their careers.

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