I believe that the iPod is the greatest invention since sliced bread, or, for that matter, slicing. Since we had the ability to cut things up and rearrange them we have been redistributing the wonders of the world in endless iterations. But nothing has the impact that the iPod has, the ability to take all the vast pantheon of musical greats and spin them into our waiting ears in any order we choose. As I sit here listening, for the one slow hour before my children wake and my work world and obligations take over, Brahms’ “Cello Sonata No. 2 in F major” comes on for a sublime 6 minutes and 40 seconds. I am lifted to the clouds, set down in my comfy couch with a warm blanket around me. Then a brief anticipatory pause, and here is Radiohead, “Fake Plastic Trees” live from the Bonnaroo Music Festival, and now my eldest son joins me in my mind, the one who turned me on to this gifted British band. An acoustic mix of ethereal lyric and six string guitar, the audience audible in the background, I am again lifted and in awe. Suddenly, Ben Harper follows with a fast and rocking version of “Please Don’t Talk About Murder While I’m Eating”, and I’m up and dancing, eyes still closed. Now I am with the son of a dear friend, one who chose to take his life at the age of 17 and found solace in his short life from Harper and his passionate and emotional words. I am all tears now. After a short 2 minutes and 34 seconds, there is Herbie Hancock with an elegant take of “One Finger Snap”, 7 minutes of remembering my father, a man who lived for jazz and who would pull me from my teenaged slump with an empassioned plea to “Dig this, man!” He would shuffle across the floor, eyes closed, embraced by the music. And in this memory I cry and miss him harder than I have in years, and hug myself for the man I know I could never be.
And before the tears stop flowing, Santana is in my ears, “Primavera” bringing me back to the here and now and making me appreciate the beauty of my life, my three healthy kids, a committed relationship with a wonderful woman, extended family that cares and friends who share both the joys and sorrow. I am crying again but now from happiness, from the joy of humanity and the fact that I am aware enough to be grateful for it. I am up again, and now the room has my dad and my children and my mother and my friends and now, even, my dog, wagging his fat tail as I move around the room with the music. I am in love with all of them as Chopin enters my ears, and I am put into a timeless place, full of love and laughter for the joys of life, tears and grief for the loss. All of it in slices, brought together in a metal box no bigger than my hand. I believe it has reconnected me to myself.
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