Sunday, December 18, 2005

iPod Kismet

The genius and power of the iPod (and by which I mean the MP3 player, but let's admit it, Apple, like Band-Aid and Coke, has pulled off the ultimate marketing coup of having its product synonymous with a thing)is that it has dramatically increased the odds of good kismet, of the fortuitous chance that the right music will arrive at the right moment. We program these things with music that we find emotionally resonant, and then, when the fates align, that resonance rings true with circumstance, and we have the perfectly scored moment, the multimedia life. We are able to do this with intention, by picking the song to fit the experience, but what is more powerful is when the experience is shaped by the good fortune of the shuffle button. It is the shuffle button, the random-making function that turns the iPod, like the automobile or the skyscraper, from a tool into a talisman.

I stepped out tonight to walk the dog, in the nearly full-moon shadows of an L.A. evening, and as I descended the stairs to the shade-wrapped street the stinging sadness of Jeff Buckley's melancholy Hallelulah poured into my ears, the perfect song for the menacing loneliness of a night time Winter's walk. I wandered along until I came to the square mystery of the Museum Gate.

As I leaned against the railing in the dark, the spare sexual sadness of that song gave way the the sweeter twang of Steve Earle's Transcedental Blues, a piece that has its dark tones as well, but that finds a content resolution, an Eastern acceptance. The song propelled me back onto the street, back into the hazy yellow light of the occasional sodium streetlamp. As I turned towards home, the shuffle worked its role of the dice and next came Beautiful Way by Beck, a druggy, slyly humorous tune that, with its perfectly aligned antecedents, had taken me into a whole different mood then when I had made my first steps of the evening. Somehow, it all came together in a way beyond words, a way that lifted and changed my emotion.

Music can add a whole layer of meaning to a moment. These are the unexpected ways that technology changes our lives, by allowing us to make and live a new form of art. The art of the perfectly timed musical/geographical/experiential moment.


Blogger sabrina d. said...

Jeff Buckley's "Hallelujah" always makes me cry. But, in fairness, so does Leonard Cohen's.

I love those happy times when I'm out and about for a walk and the iPod magically happens to have something perfect on. It's rare but very sweet.

8:12 AM  

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