iPod Shuffling Through the (47) Years

ipod-shuffling-monkeesI dread updating my iPod like some parents fear a foul-smelling diaper.

I never minded diaper duty, but the thought of clicking on that iTunes icon gives me chills. The iPod isn’t connecting to the computer. Some songs didn’t sync properly. Beloved albums are suddenly gone. The software just won’t launch.

Anything could happen, and my entire music collection hangs in the balance. So when my antiquated iPod flashed “Full” last month I knew it was time for a new model. Good thing my birthday was looming, a perfect chance for an upgrade.

Let’s gloss over how I switched from the old iPod to the new model. It wasn’t pretty. Suffice to say some quality songs got lost in the ether. The upgrade came just as my 47th birthday approached. It was … fortuitous.

That Was Then … This is Now

My first musical love was, and is, The Monkees. Yes, they’re technically a boy band, and I’m a middle-aged father. Tough. Fell hard for their music and TV show as a lad and the love affair continues. Any iPod upgrade must have their essential tracks.

Why do I cling to the pre-Fab Four? Every listen connects me to my past, something that becomes more urgent over time. And that past matters. It shapes us, influences how we parent and connects us with our core selves. I may own my own house, have two kids and drive a car I couldn’t afford a decade ago. Deep down, I’m still that insecure pre-teen discovering Micky Dolenz’s killer vocals for the first time.

Next I import Elvis Costello’s “Spike.” Suddenly, I’m back at the Fashion Institute of Technology honing a craft I’ll never professionally use. I’m riding the NYC subway system, cursing how I couldn’t ask out that cute coed who actually showed interest in me. Sometimes a certain smell can trigger these memory synapses but never as powerfully as music.

Songs are intensely personal. It’s why a throwaway scene in “This Is 40” connected so deeply with me. The harried father (Paul Rudd) is trying to share his favorite songs with his daughters and wife. They only want to hear ditzy dance music. His frustration is palpable. We’re brothers in song.

I’m 47 now. I don’t listen to much new music, something I’m trying to change. I’m reaching that age when the band names sounds sillier and sillier, the lyrics downright affy. I find comfort in a Dwight Yoakam ballad, a track from Matthew Sweet I discovered back in college. Don’t get me started on Miley Cyrus.

I look in the mirror and I see the new wrinkles, the way my face has changed for the worse. I click on my iPod. “Shades of Gray” pours out from my car’s speakers. I’m young again, whole … for another three whole minutes. It’s worth wrestling with the Apple Gods for that audio bliss.


  1. Maureen Toto says

    I remember you loving the Monkees. I never had an IPOD so I still have my records. Tee hee. I’m older so technology hasn’t affected me. So much for the golden years.

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