Blog 1416: Farewell iPod, You Knew Me Well

So Apple is retiring the iPod. This isn’t so much geek or tech news for me, as it is a sentimental, end-of-an-era moment. So here’s my requiem for “the little box” that changed my life.

If you’ve followed my Twitter feed of late, you’ll know that I’ve had more than my share of crappy experience with Apple’s products and customer service. But someone or something can only really jerk you around once it’s already become deeply intertwined with your experience of the world.

I bought my first iPod in 2004. I was about to head off on my first trip to Europe, and I had $500 set aside to spend on one of two, new-fangled, compact digital devices: a digital camera, or an mp3 player. Photos I could take or leave, but music was the one thing I’d absolutely need to have with me – and so, the iPod won out. As added incentive: this expensive little luxury good would free up valuable backpack real estate that would otherwise have been occupied by a discman and a dozen (max) painstakingly-selected CDs. And so, I bought my first, 3rd generation iPod.

I couldn’t have foreseen, though, how vital that iPod would become in my travels, or how significant in my life beyond that adventure.

Over the subsequent eight months of living out of that backpack, of staying in hostels and tents, on spare beds, couches and floors all over western Europe, I met a lot of people and was exposed to a lot of music. And my little iPod had room for sounds from every place I visited. I collected flamenco in Seville, reggae in Madrid; I was introduced to The Eels in Lisbon, to Thievery Corporation in Amsterdam, to Miss Kittin in Berlin. I shared music with new friends, and they in turn shared with me sounds that would inform, influence and inspire so much of the music I’d go on to create once I returned to Sydney to found The Ray Mann Three. Even now, when I hear a track from that time, my mind flashes back to places and faces that that music is synonymous with in my mind.

In its way, my first iPod became my own happy-snap camera after all.

That “little luxury good” allowed me to capture so much from a time that showed me who I was and could be – and from a part of the world that I’d eventually journey to once more, for a new adventure, and be writing about a decade later.

I took good care of that first iPod, and it lasted well beyond its projected two-year lifespan. Eventually, I passed it on to a friend after her house was robbed, still loaded up with the music that had kept me company years before. And though I don’t carry an iPod around any more, I still have my earbuds in almost all day every day, an IV drip from my phone, supplying a steady stream of sounds that continues to nourish, provoke and inspire me.

Farewell, “little” life-changer.

. . .

The illustration (top) is from my sketchbook – Amsterdam, 2004. My sketchbooks became my other “happy-snap camera” – another result of my decision to spend that money on an audio, rather than a visual, device for my trip.

. . .

Amsterdam 2004

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