It used to mean something.
The songs that you carried with you. At least it did for me.
At the start of grade school, the songs you listened to on the bus or outside of the house were limited to the number of CDs you could carry (and the AA or AAA battery juice you had left). At some point, it was possible to listen to one or two tracks at a time, via a Hit Clip. If you aren't familiar with such a device, it was a player no larger than a child's palm and it played micro-SD-sized cards. However, it only had a few tracks on each card. So, it mattered what music you had with you. The mood you were in at the start of the day had better have been a mood you were comfortable with the whole day - your soundtrack was limited. Of course, there was the possibility that you had a friend with an older sibling that could burn you some mixtapes...
If you were like me, you just stuck to soundtrack compilations. The top three for me was the Shrek Soundtrack, The Scrubs Season 1 Soundtrack, and the Nightmare Before Christmas soundtrack. Though, I vaguely remember Treasure Island album because it had an exclusive Goo Goo Dolls single.
I remember one night while I was getting ready to go to sleep, my dad came into the room and said, "I won an iPod mini at work." I had asked what on Earth an "iPod" was and what was mini about such a thing? He replied something to the effect of, "I don't know. It stores and plays music."
Remember this is 2005 - 2006 era technology. This was HUGE. I remember him showing me how he made "playlists" and added songs that you could sort by genre. It was around that time that the iPod took off. Every kid wanted one. I needed one. Music was my whole day. On the bus. After school, on my bike. Finally, a way to escape, anywhere.
The doors were opened.
I lost an iPod Nano by leaving it on the back of my dad's truck...it wasn't until he left for work that morning that I realized where it had been. We found the headphones near a sharp turn a few miles away.
I lost another iPod Classic from some sort of damage, I don't even remember what had happened to it. I probably played it to death.
I lost another iPod Nano at the gym. Rather, someone stole it. And a nice pair of headphones. I still love that purple iPod Nano. Whereever you are little buddty, I hope you are jamming to "Cardiac Arrest" by Bad Suns.
I've had an iPod inside my phone for almost as many years as I've had a cell phone. In fact, the iPhone was the only phone other than a Razr that I've ever owned. More ways to make music accessible.
And in my junior year of college (2015) I bought an iPod Classic again when I found out they weren't going to make them anymore. I have that one still, don't worry. It keeps the car pumping on roadtrips. It's the original "No Wifi? No Problem." solution.
If you torrented music or used Napster, disregard this part: It used to take a long time to build your music collection. I mean, I burned a majority of my initial music from CDs my Dad and I collected from the B.I. (before iPod) era. And still, in the years to follow I collected another 2,000 songs from iTunes. (which again, you could buy only one song? incredible.) Remember getting iTunes giftcards? It was like 10 or 25 mini-presents. It was hard to narrow down the tunes I wanted. AND we had dial-up internet. So, a song was a 15 - 20 minute commitment just to acquire. It was all on the computer, so once it finished downloading, you had to attach your iPod to your computer and let it sync. Phew, I'm impatient just recalling this.
But it used to matter. The playlists you made were songs that you picked with good reason. Each track was earned. Your iPod was this incredible insight into how you were feeling or what you may be thinking lately. To be honest, 8th-grade-me was nailing it with Sam's Town by the Killers and Paper Walls by Yellowcard. Through high school, it was so romantic to make playlists for your high school sweetheart and burn them to a disc. Remember how the locker room was always blasting Kid Cudi or Phil Collins?
Remember when songs went from $0.99 to $1.29? Remember the free single of the week?
Even at the start of college, it was something to see someone's playlist. I remember talking about running tracks and trying to make this perfect gym playlist. (Honestly, probably a life-long endeavor.) Still, just as much as music was a reflection of you - it was also a door for someone else. It allowed us to connect on this basic level. Even if we didn't like the same genres, odds are there was at least one song we both thought was dope.
Enter streaming services and the ability to access the internet anywhere, and we start to lose that same sense of pride. At least, it feels that way. Now, you can have any type of music in your earpods at any time. While is truly such an incredible revolution, it is hard not to be envious of the 2010 music audience. The audience that wasn't thrown into a have-it-all, have-it-now mentality. We are being given the keys to Pandora's box (pun intended).
Because now, your iPod can look just like anyone else's and they don't really need to do much more than pushing a few plus signs to get there. Maybe I'm being a little too sentimental, but the music you put on every day used to mean something.
(now playing: extraordinary girl by green day. circa 2004. one of my first ipod songs.)
in honor of this pining post, here is a playlist of the songs that first filled up my 4GB iPod nano served up the old fashion way - by creating a list. you can do the hard work of hitting those plus signs ;)
1. You're Beautiful - James Blunt
2. Feel Good Inc. - Gorillaz
3. Holiday - Green Day
4. Thnks Fr Th Mmrs - Fall Out Boy
5. Welcome to the Black Parade - My Chemical Romance
6. I Wanna Rock - Twisted Sister
7. Dead Man's Party - Oingo Boingo
8. Dear God - XTC
9. Let Love In - Goo Goo Dolls
10. Mrs. Potter's Lullaby - Counting Crows
11. City of Devils - Yellowcard
12. Superman - Lazlo Blane (Theme from Scrubs)
13. Hallelujah - Rufus Wainright