The Apple iPod Nano was all about connections

The iPod nano came into my life in the spring of 2006, five years after Steve Jobs’ famous music device changed the music industry forever and one year into a long-distance relationship that is now on the cusp of a solution. The outlines of life together began to take shape, but as an unconvertible introvert, forever short of expressing my feelings in words, I turned to music to take the relationship to shore. Every night after work, in my rent-sharing guest apartment, and in my roommate’s portable double Phillips stereo, from albums of music borrowed and requested from friends and colleagues and from late-night radio shows, I’d record songs that seemed to be Speaking for me – Tagore and Leonard Cohen, The Beatles and Joan Baez, Alanis Morissette and Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, Ice of Peace – a playlist that has been my old timer and an impressive new person in adulthood. We had to meet that summer and decide the future. Maybe the music is my voice when words (always) fail me.

In his highly personal collection of essays, 31 songs (2002), English writer and poet Nick Hornby wrote of the high fidelity between music and an individual’s emotional life—the profound resonance that certain songs have with a particular stage in our lives, regardless of the cultural distance between the musician and the listener. “I love the relationship anyone has with music… because there is something in us that is beyond words’ reach, something that eludes and defies our best attempts to spit it out. He writes… it’s probably the best part of us….”

Looking back, music has always been the soundtrack in my life, changing musical interfaces, and a record of the passage of time. AIR years of my childhood in Kolkata, listening to Ameen Sayani Jitmala reading letters written by the public to loved ones in distant places; My mom records songs from the radio on Sony “blank” cassettes that my aunt from NRI always brought her; Calming My Teen’s Anxiety Through Late Night Radio Shows – RJ Jimmy Tangree talks about love and relationship on shows like Direct Deal – My cousin and I were secretly saving pocket money to buy the latest Bollywood release after our parents vehemently refused to buy us the album (to be fair to them, we both had a questionable taste in Bollywood music, a trait that still exists today); Editing Sony Walkman, a high school gift from my dad that moved music away from shared entertainment mode to personal, and finally, iPod, that little miracle worker who made sharing a character with my chosen one, an act of my faith.

But iPod ownership was still in the future. In the spring of 2006, the idea of ​​which eight or 10 songs if I’m lucky should be kept and what should be recorded in the hour-long duration of the blank tape. Did Mitchell’s “You are my pleasure” words sound too advanced? Can I squeeze another Cohen besides “Bird on a Wire”? By the time summer decisions started, I had given up trying to choose, and given up on the idea of ​​a personal gift.

When we finally meet, it’s not hard to take. The conversation flows easily and my social anxiety dissipates before I even realize it. We don’t discuss the future, but we feel more certain about it. The next day after his death, a small parcel arrived in my apartment. Inside, there’s a sleek, pocket-sized glossy rectangular case in brushed silver-gray and a pair of headphones. It’s an iPod Nano, holding up to 1,000 songs. “So you don’t have to choose,” the handwritten note reads with her.

When I read about Apple’s decision to phase out the iPod Touch, which would end the 21-year-old product that revolutionized not only how we listen to music but also how we communicate, I remember the old Nano. In the nearly two decades since then, it has long since been phased out as we’ve discovered new forms of streaming music. But her promise to let go and the connections she created linger like a half-forgotten lyric you can’t get out of your head.

Write to the author at paromita.chakrabarti@expressindia.com.

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