Wednesday, 16 March 2005

That’s what mrs. riordan said and she should know

I was reading this afternoon that Jack Dee doesn't like the iPod. Apparently a substantial part of his current routine is given over to it. Fair enough I suppose. I absolutely adore my iPod and take it pretty much everywhere with me, but even I'm starting to get annoyed by its ubiquity. It's bloody everywhere. The white headphones are a touch of marketing genius, aren't they? Generally speaking, you keep this kind of thing in your pocket, and all the rest of the world can see of it is the headphones. Those headphones (and their cables) are usually black. The iPod's headphones (and cables) are white, and they stand out a mile. Naturally, this has made their owners the target of muggers ("hey look! I've got a £400 piece of kit in my pocket! come and get me!"). That doesn't seem to have stopped anyone though, does it? It's a badge of honour. It marks you out.

They're not even very good headphones.

The iPod is a triumph of form *and* functionality. It is an object of geek desire *and* an object of chic desire. That's quite a neat trick to be able to pull off - I can't think of something else with such a broad appeal.

I hardly need to tell you, dear reader, which side of the geek/chic divide I reside.

.... oh please. You could at least have PRETENDED to humour me.... Thanks a bunch.

I wonder whether Nick Hornby likes the iPod. The main thrust of his novel "High Fidelity" is about a man's need to catalogue his life in the same way as he catalogues his record collection. I reckon he probably hates it, or at least thinks that he ought to. I've never owned many records and the bulk of my collection is in CD format, which strikes me as being far more utilitarian - there's somehow less to love about a CD than a record (although it's a hell of a lot more practical in the car). Although it is brilliant to be able to carry several hundred of your favourite albums around in something only slightly bigger than a packet of fags, I somehow think that the real vinyl afficionado gets as much of a kick from the physical pleasure of his collection - the feel of it, the smell of it. The ritual of choosing a record, pulling it from it's sleeve, giving it a wipe and popping it onto the player before settling down in your favourite chair in the ideal stereo position.... you can even use the sleeve to construct a jazz cigarette, if you are so inclined. Very few of these things apply to the CD, and pretty much none of them apply to the iPod. The iPod even organises your collection for you (alphabetical by artist, alphabetical by album, alphabetical by song, by genre.... no autobiographical setting, sadly).

I think it's brilliant. I'm an iPod bore. A sensible middle-aged chap at work sidled up to me yesterday and in a confidential whisper asked my advice about downloading music from iTunes.... I encouraged him (it is, after all, extremely easy). I did however offer him my usual caution that he should be careful in his selection of his first download... as I've said here before, I reckon your first download is a key moment in your life.

This same chap came up to me today to give me an update - apparently (and a little weirdly) this chap had been unable to find the Evanessance single, so for this landmark event in his life had thought long and hard and then settled on "Hey Ya!"

An excellent choice, I'm sure you'll agree.

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I have 4702 songs on my iPod (that's 12.3 days of solid listening, apparently). Here are the first ten songs that come up when I pop it onto shuffle:

1. "All Shook Up" - Elvis Presley
2. "Alone, Together" - The Strokes
3. "Night Bird Flying" - Jimi Hendrix
4. "Raw Power" - Iggy Pop & The Stooges
5. "Bedshaped" - Keane
6. "Black Eyed Dog" - Nick Drake
7. "Message to Crommie" - Planet 4 Folk Quartet (on the 'Help' album)
8. "Ring the Bells" - James
9. "Walking Barefoot" - Ash
10. "Words" - Doves

Not bad, not bad. 4692 to go then.

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I think I might attempt an "autobiographical" playlist: the songs that plot the way through my musical life from Nik Kershaw, Aha and 5 Star through to Bloc Party, Rufus Wainwright and The Futureheads via Iron Maiden, The Smiths and Scott Walker*

Actually, on reflection, maybe Nick Hornby would love the iPod.

(* I don't actually have any Nik Kershaw or 5 Star on my iPod, in case you wondered, although I do have some Aha.)

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