My favorite things, number 4: iPod

My favorite things, number 4: iPod

If you grew up in the Midwest, you may know the joy of walking up and down endless rows of corn, yanking the tassel out so the plant can have sex with the nice plant next row over.

Yes, I’m simplifying.

Anyway, this isn’t about sex. It’s about music.

I detasseled for a couple years when I was young, starting with the summer I finished eighth grade. I didn’t want to. And about the only thing that saved me was a little music machine we called a “transistor radio.”

With a brother two years older than I, and a sister one year older, I was starting to develop an appreciation for music, and 1968 was a great summer for music. So I took my handheld AM radio with the single-speaker earphone into the corn field and listened to WLS: Marvin Gaye, Simon and Garfunkel, The Temptations, Gene Pitney – even Tiny Tim.

I look back at the “Top 89” lists that WLS put out then and think how much that one little marketing trick did for them. I own a lot of the music from those days and I can put together a heck of a playlist – and take it with me more easily and with better sound by far.

The iPod: number 4 on my list of five favorite gadgets.

I’ve gone through several iPods. The one I’m using now is the 120 gig model. It has all my music and a few dozen movies. Great battery life and I’ve dropped it more than once and it keeps running like a top. The controls’ simplicity shows in how often they’re imitated.

The best thing about it, in my view, also happens to be the worst thing about it:


I love the capability to make playlists, to drag and drop just the songs I want on a list to suit certain circumstances. I don’t make a lot of lists, but I have one for walking, one for 1960s music, one for music from my college years. The Genius feature of iTunes is occasionally inspired, but can produce some very strange picks, too; Pandora is much better at creating lists on the fly.

What I hate about iTunes is that I have to use it to manipulate my iPod. You can minimize its interference with your device, but you cannot get around it altogether.

We put up with stuff all the time, though, that’s far more serious than this. And when I think back to the days of Larry Lujack and Bob Sirott and John “Records” Landecker, well, at least I can pull out the iPod and hear the music they played whenever I want.

(Favorite things number 5: Tablet PC)

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