I grew up in a deaf home but not without music. In 1975, my mom lost her hearing due to an allergy to antibiotics and her music group ended abruptly.
We had a huge old record player that her flatmate nautical boyfriend had smuggled out of Fiji on an Australian Navy ship to rescue them on a postage stamp.
It was a pure piece of ’70s design that brought me the rocking sounds of ’60s and early ’70s Britain to a remote Australian town in the ’80s just off the Golden Highway.
Enya was in the charts, Shakespeare’s sister, but I knew all the words in Tea For The Tillerman, Candles in the Rain, and everything from Creedence Clearwater Revival. Name the Beatles song and I’ll read it by heart, as well as Don McClain. The soundtrack to Hair was my favorite, and it’s the album my mom’s hiding from me, but I’ll find it, listen, and replace it before you even notice.
I saw Hare on Broadway in New York a few years ago and realized very clearly from adults why she didn’t want her seven-year-old daughter to sing those poems.
What I do mean to say, however, is that although it doesn’t seem like it is, music is central to all of my early memories.
Novelist Andrew O’Hagan recently published a brilliant piece in the London Review of Books about his mother’s death, technological obsolescence, and the infuriating obstinacy of assertive technophobia.
He writes: “Nobody has an iPhone13,” he writes, “secretly yearning for an iPhone6, not even for reasons of nostalgia or perversion.” This lack of imagination.
I long, and it’s no secret, for my iPhone3, which I gave up in March of this year. I bought a used iPhone12 from a friend in January and then spent nearly three months plucking the guts to use it.
I am the literal embodiment of a vegetarian joke. How do you know Catriona Stewart has an iPhone3?
Because she told you.
I loved my iPhone3. I still love it: It’s sitting charged on a back rack, just in case. It just does what’s needed – show me emails, send texts, and let me talk to people elsewhere.
On our late Christmas Eve, I showed my Zoomer colleagues how, to take a selfie, you have to flip the phone completely over—there’s no front camera here—and wish on a star.
What can be captured in the frame is anyone’s guess and part of the fun.
For music, I had an iPod Mini, which I bought in Texas in 2004 before launching in the UK. It started life as a curiosity because it was too new to be bought here and ends its life as a curiosity because it was too old to be bought here.
Just before closing, I was at the Pret A Manger branch holding it in my hand, and the waiter, with surprised joy, asked to take a look at it, and took it by the hand and turned it into the light as if checking it out. rank.
My iPod mini is in pink, a pale pearl color unique to that era. For its more modern blush pink, Apple created a more punchy number, and a more powerful bob that could turn heads.
The wrapper may be tasteless, but the delights inside were miraculous. It served me well, that little box of tunes, but I mainly used it on the go and when I switched from train to bike, it didn’t make sense or safe to ride the bike while listening to music so I slowly retired.
Terribly, you forgot the fun of cutting with a song that highlights your step.
When I upgraded my phone I was worried my soul might seep through my nose. Instead, all these notes are seeping through my ears.
It’s a multipurpose rectangle that not only lets me access the internet and download apps, it lets me watch TV.
Now, like God, I’ve got the whole world in my hands. I’ll admit, it was helpful to fly to the US earlier this year because the airline mandated that everything be done through an app.
I would have been digitally excluded and that was a sore neck. Other than that, I wondered what I needed for this new phone. I had buyer’s remorse.
But wait. This phone also allows me to listen to music, like my iPod but all, all music. I bought bluetooth headphones and now my life is going down a new path, stepping into 21st century life. I listen to all the music all the time.
I walk along the street, I’m crowded. I press a button and songs slide into my ear, songs I haven’t heard in years, but they take me to times and places in the past.
I feel like a capsized ship. I feel radiant. I Google, “How many orifices does the human body have?” Just to double check how many ways you might escape the ecstasy of the voice coming into me.
Here I learn that human holes are called canals, which is a good thing, I’ve been through the ear canal and birth canal before; Ducts, which makes sense again, who hasn’t discussed the tear ducts at some point?
They are also called meatus. the meat? Is this plural or singular? What is meatus in the name of God? The rushing romance slows down for a while, but, never mind, I can redirect the path to infinity.
My body is being disassembled and reassembled by sound. I’m the percussion and chord department. My bones are spread out in the shape of a marimba and my feet are drums.
Now I am the star of my musicals and I hate musicals but I love my life singing. I try to stop myself from dancing in the street but I usually fail. A little bump in the groin here, a mite there, and a hairy flick there. Nobody looks.
Is it, however, better than my iPod? Apple just announced it’s going to discontinue the iPod more than 20 years after its release and a nostalgic heart like mine skips a beat.
Even with the modern world in my grasp, the memory of my thumb muscles wanting to slide around a wheel. My ears want the reassurance of familiar sounds and my mind is weary of choice.
I might continue to care for the iPod Mini, at least for a little while longer. Is this craving? Or a delusion? I think it is convenient. I don’t need the whole world, I just need enough of it to keep me in a song.