Having succumbed to the wonders of modern technology I have finally purchased an iPod. It is the tiny 1GB shuffle version as opposed to the full bhuna but it can take over 130 songs that will take over 13 hours to listen to and is a vast improvement on trying to change a CD while driving a car at 80 mph along the M8.
My first problem was that my laptop wasn’t working so I couldn’t transfer anything from my iTunes onto it and the CDs I have are packed away in someone’s attic so I couldn’t download them onto someone elses iTunes to then give them a listen. I have duly uploaded a random mix of a friend’s iTunes to listen to myself.
Unlike other iPods the shuffle is too small to have a screen so listening is rather like eating an unknown dish blindfolded with a peg on your nose as you have no idea what is coming next and, unless you recognise the song, no idea what you are listening to.
There is also something so utterly personal about listening to a random mixture of someone else’s music through headphones. While you may be exposed to another musical taste when you are in their house, listening on loud speakers you are being invited to share that you are not sneeking into their mind to see what it is like in there. Also your host, if they have any consideration (and if they haven’t, find yourself better friends), may realise that their devotion to Megadeath is not necessarily shared by you and will choose their music accordingly. That in itself can be a fascinating experience as you if you listen closely enough you can find out what your friends really think you are like. I often seem to be mistaken for a old Suzanne Vega song fan and am also frequently subjected to Coldplay and Travis droning about rain (answer to the question Why Does It Always Rain On me? – You live in the West of Scotland, it’s nothing personal my dear, it happens to everyone). I am, however, fortunate to no longer be friends with the Bluegrass fans who tried to convert me to their music with a zeal that Bluegrass musicians themselves normally reserve for Jesus.
But listening to someone elses iPod selection is like being inside their head. No one else on the Picadilly line can hear anything- well apart from the occasional tinny drumbeat leaking out of my ears, so they have no idea that I am listening to a rather bizarre selection of Classic 1950s Bollywood songs mixed with Aerosmith and Guns and Roses numbers. It’s only two tiny speakers in my ears that isolate me from the rest of the passengers, mentally even if their elbows are in my ribs, and I realise that this particular selection is only listened to by someone else also through two tiny speakers in her ears on the District line. All we need to do is swap heads.
Try it. Borrow a friend’s iPod or download their iTunes and play the random selection. It will give you an insight into who they are, who they used to be and what they dream. You may lose some respect for intellectual Spice Girl fans, be rather taken aback at an atheist's passion for Gregorian chant but you will know them better in the end.
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