An Ode to Portable Music

I guess I can remember a time when people weren’t consistently walking around with headphones in their ears, but it really seems like something of the very distant past.  Being a school teacher it is certainly a bit of a different time in schools when it comes to distractions.  Kids come into school with their headphones on, they complain when you ask them to take them out or turn it off, they lie that it isn’t plugged in or turned on, and they want to wear the headphones around their neck as a fashion statement.  If that isn’t enough, I have to tell kids to put them away, and I have to watch out for sweatshirts that disguise the headphones in the actual hood drawstrings.  It’s a crazy time period.  Thinking of my other job, I watch kids come in with their parents totally ignoring family time to listen to their music.  I’ve had kids put on their pandora app at the table so they have music they want to hear, and I’ve watched families sit through entire meals without speaking to each other.  It’s a strange new world we’re moving into and, while I may sound really annoyed at the state of the world, I’m loving this new technology.

I am old enough to have owned and operated a Walkman back in the day.  It wasn’t all that long, but I did purchase a few different cassette tapes of my own before I stated in on the new fangled world of compact discs.  I specifically remember making mix tapes and buying a Green Day and Presidents of the United States of America tape as well.  It wasn’t long before I purchased my first Discman. This very quickly led into a world wind buying spree of different albums.  I loved the fact that I could listen to my own music privately and, with the invention of downloadable music and burning cds, I could quickly increase the amount of music I had in my library.  I remember even up through college being obsessed with downloading music.  I would burn CD’s that had two different bands on them or 4 different EPs.  It was an easier way to keep music even though I had to carry all the CDs in my big binder of music.

Then all of a sudden the big binder wasn’t necessary anymore.  I tried to keep myself from buying an Ipod for a little while, but I gave in my Junior year of college.  I have never been a big fan of trying to buy stuff new, so I purchased one off Ebay.  It was a crazy advance in the portable music industry.  I didn’t need the binder anymore, now I could carry hundreds of albums in this compact device.  Of course, with the advance in technology came a different type of responsibility.  Now I had to be much more careful with the device.  I managed to only purchase one Walkman and one discman in my life, but in the span of 8 years, I have gone through 4 different Ipods.

The first one, a bit clunkier version for sure, somehow had the screen smashed and black ink spread throughout the display.  The second one was left on the roof of my car after school one day.  Apparently finding an Ipod on top of a car outside an apartment building means you don’t have to turn it in to the management’s lost and found.  The third one I managed to get them to replace for a price.  I confiscated a powerful magnet from one of the students in my class.  I foolishly put it on the side of my desk.  Not too surprisingly it attached itself to my Ipod as I walked by and yanked a gear inside out of place.  The final Ipod was a shuffle I got from my parents for working out.  I have no idea what happened to that one, but it stopped working after one year.

I bring up all the loss because I may have one more Ipod to add to the list of the fallen.  This of course is the one that brought on this run down of mobile music technology throughout the years.  The final day of school this year I was listening to the Ipod on the way home from school.  I’m fairly sure I got it in the house, but I haven’t seen it since.  It may soon join the long list of Ipods that have come and gone, but I thankfully have a back up Nano that I now use for working out.  It really needs to be updated, but I’m glad I can still carry quite a few albums around with me.

I find it funny that I went through years and years with a discman and never had a problem, but I’ve managed to go through potentially 5 different Ipods in quite a short period of time.  I can’t help but feel we’ve started to sacrifice longevity for a device that can handle so much more data.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m so happy I don’t have to carry around a binder of music to accompany my eclectic taste; however, at $250-300 a piece, I can’t help but wonder if I’d be better off walking around with a book bag to hold all my music and discman.  Hopefully I find my Ipod soon!

where are you!?!?


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