Thursday, July 10, 2008

R.I.P. Schooly's iPod

After more than three years of steady and dutiful service, my iPod finally missed a step this past week. I don't know exactly what happened (I blame my computer at work), but when I went to disconnect it the other day, the little guy freaked out.

When I finally revived it, I discovered a big chunk of my playlists were missing; all the music was still there, but now my various computers couldn't read the iPod's hard drive anymore. I let it sit for a couple days, tried the manual restart—nothing worked. So I finally decided to do what Luke Skywalker couldn't bring himself to do to C-3PO and R2-D2: The Doomsday Option. I wiped its memory.

And it seems to have worked, for now, which is good. But there was so much stuff on there, I'll never get it back to the way it was. There are a few things I'll miss most, most notably the "Play Count" and "Last Played" columns. If you had picked up my iPod last week and looked at those two columns, you'd be able to tell a lot about me. It was basically a history of my musical journey for the past three years. You'd see that Pearl Jam's "Life Wasted" and The Dropkick Murphys' "I'm Shipping Up to Boston" are two of my favorite songs of all time, because they'd been played more than 30 times, making them the dueling entries for Play Count Champion.

You'd see that for awhile I was absolutely obsessed with AFI's "Decemberunderground," because just about every song on that album had been played upwards of 25 times. You'd see that U2's UK single version of "Walk On" was a song I went to when in need of inspiration, or that The Bouncing Souls' "So Jersey" when in need of re-energizing, or … well, I could go on and on. I'll miss being surprised when I click onto an old favorite and realize it's been more than a year since I've listened to that album; my iPod was a constant reminder of not only how fast time seems to slip by, but also how much great music there is out there—how else could Johnny Cash's "American V" not been played in many, many months?

The other thing I'll miss most are my playlists. One of the iPod's best features is the ability to mix and match songs into any kind of order and grouping you want. I had Pearl Jam and U2 mixes on there that I'll never be able to remember, like the perfect re-tracking of "Binaural" I spent an hour on a couple summers ago (how did they ever leave "Sad" off that record?!?!).

And probably the worst part is the little songs I had stored on there that I have no idea where they came from. Live cuts from web sites long since forgotten, and the like. Can I really find all those old bootlegs again? Here's hoping. But the truth is, I'll never know how much I lost.

So if there's a silver lining to this event, it's this: My iPod now has a fresh start. I maxed out my capacity long ago, so for years every time I added something new I had to delete something old. And there was some stuff on there I just couldn't erase, even though I may not have listened to it since 2005—or, sometimes, not at all. Well, that problem's solved. Now I don't have to figure out what to cut so I can drop The National's "Alligator" on there (holy crap, that album is incredible—go buy it!). And I don't expect Coldplay will make it back in (OK, well, maybe just "Clocks").

Matter of fact, I already had some CDs on my computer, just waiting to be plopped back onto my (hopefully) renewed little friend. The first four songs I played on Schooly's iPod II pretty much sum this whole wretched experience up nicely:

"Your Long Journey," Robert Plant & Alison Krauss
"Alive," Pearl Jam
"Rearviewmirror," Pearl Jam
"Stop Your Sobbing," The Pretenders

Here's hoping this was just a one-time thing and all will return to normal now. That little droid and I have been through a lot together.

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