It’s hard to explain now, to anybody who wasn’t there, the appeal of the classic ipod. You know, the 160 gigaboo one your mate had, who was a total idiot and filled the entire thing with shit from the Foo Fighters. It looked like an expensive lolly, minus the stick, and if you dropped it in the bath that was about the only thing left you could attempt to use it for – as a snack if you can digest metal and silicone chips.
The zoomer generation might have been brought up to enjoy owning nothing and stream every album ever created from Spotify or Youtube in tinny quality with ads between every word, but once music was important. We loaded up our ipods and enjoyed no ads with the music we owned forever – or until your hard drive died (but also in tinny quality if it was ripped pooly or you had a lack of space on your disc). Dylan Jones, the former editor of GQ, wrote an entire book eulogising the ipod in autistic, Patrick Bateman levels of detail… needless to say he had U2 and Phil Collins on his.
In the sixties you had vinyl, opening up the aural world to a generation of dope-heads. In the seventies and eighties things became portable, and people wore the clothes of their favourite bands like a tribe, hanging on the every word of their leaders. In the 90s we went digital, but we still got it – as people discovered their parents’ collections and started their own bands. Pre-internet, getting a guitar and shouting was how we communicated.
The internet age probably made people’s tastes more eclectic, for all but the most complete normie (modern pop is, ironically, more homogenised than its ever been), and yet as music is everywhere available at the push of a button (whether you want it or not) the thing has lost a lot of its currency. Silence is the one track that’s really hard to find. Streaming zoomers might take time to queue up the perfect playlist on their phone, but it’s hard to explain now the hours of work that went into curating a ‘pod (with the artwork), let alone attempt to make anyone understand the appeal of making a tape- you had to *listen* to it while you were copying it?!?
Tapes are still around and playable if you can find the equipment, but though ipods don’t endure quite as well there are those who preserve them and would never dream of putting theirs into a pocket or ramming a charge cable in without proper care. Batteries can be replaced. Docks are still around and can be had cheaply in any secondhand shop. There’s even a mod for a lightweight 256 gig solid state flash drive, something which Apple never even dreamed of offering us plebians.
It’s hard to explain, now, why I really, really want one when I could buy an old iphone that would plug into my dock for half the money – but I still do.
Transferring over files could be cantankerous using Apple’s itunes system – and keep that back-up on an external – but there’s no substitute for owning your music. And of course, you can always add more. Perhaps a lifetime’s worth.
Perhaps the lasting legacy of the ipod is in the term “podcast” which seems set to be with us for a while yet – even if we listen to them on our phones.
Sent from my iphone.
I see Abba are making new music, with the aid of computers to recreate the band as it was in the seventies.
Welcome to the future- the past re-hashed forever!
Now usually I am a musical purist and I would say leave it how it is- as with a lot of music it is “of it’s time,” and I would say leave it there. On the other hand, if no one takes a risk there would be no new music. But this isn’t taking a risk. You know that Abba will sell units. But is it stopping another band from getting on the pop charts if they go on for ever, reanimated?
I don’t know if they’re using computers to make the music or just the “look” of the band, because I could care less about Abba, but no doubt it will soon be possible to have a machine recreate Elvis, or Public Enemy, or The Rolling Stones at the push of a button.
The question is, should we?
Frankie Zen is a comic book artist and diary keeper.