Lessons Learned: Dad’s iPod

To mothers, iPods are not tiny hard drives. They are magical fairy lands where anything can happen and data doesn’t have mass. “I can’t get music off of it! All the music on it is gone!”

“Does the iPod still work? Like, will it play?”
“Well, yes.”

I didn’t go into the speech about how, if a 20GB iPod is full, it’s got to be full of something. I didn’t go into detail about how music files on an iPod live in a hidden folder because Apple is trying to cockblock your file copying efforts. Instead, I just asked mom if I could borrow the iPod until Christmas.

My mission: copy the music off the iPod, label the songs and burn them to a couple data DVDs. The problem: any of you who have learned the “always backup your music” lesson the hard way know that iPods (old ones, anyway) scramble the file names. Thus, I had to open each file in iTunes and then label the file appropriately. I give you: Lessons Learned from Dad’s iPod.

1. Big & Rich have attempted to use rock music’s “wall of sound” principle in country music. As a result, I can say with some certainty that I will never own a Big & Rich album.

2. One’s age is directly proportional to the mass of one’s collection of Christmas music.

3. Elton John’s “I’m Still Standing” kicks ass, even if it will forever make me picture people wearing banana hammocks and body paint. That video was made back when people still thought Elton John was straight, which can only be explained by the fact that EVERYONE looked gay in the 80s.

4. Aaron Neville needs a lozenge.

5. Somebody somewhere is listening to an Elvis Christmas album for some reason other than kitsch. Strange but true.

6. When I go to Hell, the only music available will be Rockapella. If I go to the part of Hell where Hitler lives, it will be a Rockapella Christmas album.

7. When I type “Beethoven,” the voice in my head pronounces it like Bill & Ted. “BEETH-uhvin”

8. Norah Jones is boring.

9. Merle Haggard needs a good therapist.

10. If you didn’t live through the 70s and would like a musical picture of what the 70s where, listen to any song by the Gatlin Brothers. If you can get through “Sure Feels Like Love” without feeling like you need a really, really long shower, you are a better man than I.

Zen and the Art of Rocking

Not too long ago, I was driving back from Kentucky having just spent six days away from home. I had been in Kentucky watching my dad die, watching my family watch my dad die, and trying not to lose my proverbial shit. Diah’s death got me slightly more accustomed to public crying, but it’s still not on my list of things I’d write as a turn-on on match.com. Incidentally, I also wouldn’t list match.com as a turn-on. That profile was a mistake made in youth that will never be repeated. Where were we?

Ah, yes. In the car, driving back to Nashville. Drained, numbed, tired, and probably unable to breathe through one side of my nose (Kentucky = allergies), I hit Bluegrass Parkway and gave myself permission to loosen up the tight coils that had formed in my spine. As the opening drums of “I Don’t Care” hit me in the face, everything relaxed. I had permission to lose my shit in the privacy of my own car.

Last weekend, I found myself driving to Kentucky again. A panic attack came out of nowhere, seeping up my chest, speeding up my heart, and making my palms start to sweat. As it so often goes when I travel, I wanted to be home. Right then.

A girl doesn’t survive with panic on Paxil alone. I have grown, in part, smarter than my brain. I know its games, and I know how to stop them. Its name is Klaus. It is my iPod.

A PBS special called The Musical Mind helped explain it: when you listen to music that you enjoy, your brain impulses light up, turning your skull into Studio 54. Your brain says “yes” and, in so doing, forgets all about whatever nastiness it was conjuring. It’s like seeing a toddler walk toward an electrical socket and distracting said toddler with a toy. (Unless the toddler is screaming, in which case I suggest letting the kid fry.)

For what it’s worth, clicking the iPod to a song I really, really like helps talk me down from a panic attack. It might help you. May I suggest Fall Out Boy’s “I Don’t Care”?