Requiem for the iPod

Yes, they're still around -- what an iPod looks like today.
Yes, they're still around -- what an iPod looks like today.

The year was 2002, and I was in the back of my mom's Chevy high-top. She was driving my brother to Sam's Club to pick up his new blue iPod 1st Generation. For months, I watched him listen to Papa Roach and moody pop-rock queen Avril Lavigne as he sat in his bedroom lifting his 8-pound dumbbells -- that is, until I got my own iPod a couple years later. Gwen Stefani, Outkast, Hoobastank, it was all on that little thing. And quite frankly, it was all I would ever need. IVAN GUZMAN

My first iPod was one of the 120 GB ones, which I decided I needed because in those days I had nothing better to do than listen to any and all albums which came my way. I was working at a warehouse all day and I'd listen to album after album, from Cursive to Stan Getz, just taking in everything I could.

It was a magic portal into my musical world on the go, where previously I had to fight to get home and catch up on my new records. Eventually it burnt out and my iPhone superseded it, but I still miss having 120 GB to work with. They just don't make them like that anymore. COREY DEITERMAN

It's odd to consider this technology passe. I vividly recall standing in Sound Warehouse at Gessner and Braeswood in the 1980s, with $10 in my pocket from delivering pizzas for Mr. Gatti's. I wondered why I had to choose between B-52's Wild Planet and The Police's Ghost in the Machine. If only I could buy just the songs I enjoyed from each, I foretold, one-upping Nostradamus.

Upcoming Events

Today, I keep a functioning iPod because I've met so many musicians who've passed off their lo-fi, lower budget CDs to me. These kids pour their hearts out and hand them over on CD-Rs bought in bulk at Office Depot. Maybe they can't afford to load their music to a streaming service or just don't have the time to oversee a Bandcamp account.

My iTunes music library is filled with little treasures from these types of bands. So, even though it's an old, battered thing, who's to say the next big thing isn't already loaded on my iPod Classic? JESSE SENDEJAS JR.

Requiem for the iPod
Photo by Marco Torres

Shocking I know, but I've never owned an iPod. WILLIAM MICHAEL SMITH

There are arguably hundreds of reasons why iPods positively changed the listener experience when they became the new normal; the grab-and-go convenience of not having to take a CaseLogic CD book along, for example. However, the influx of iPods further pushed changes in the fabric of what it meant to create good music, both on the side of creator and consumer.

Manufacturing hit singles has always been a large part of pop music, but the "Shuffle" and "Skip" accessibility of the iPod propelled record labels and musicians to forgo the creation of a full piece of art in favor of bite-sized confections more than ever before. iPods reiterate the ADD culture of modern-day America and artists are all too aware that singles are what make money.

The listener loses out, too: as some artists still create full albums meant to be enjoyed in order of song list, this experience is more often than not completely lost. Surely, with any progress comes setbacks, and the pros often outweigh the cons. I, however, don't think it's a coincidence that 15 years deep into the iPod culture, vinyl record collecting and full-length experience listening has moved from hipster hobby to its own new normal. SELENA DIERINGER

Story continues on the next page.


Though I may still be considered young, I still remember portable music options that came before the iPod. First there was the Walkman, a portable cassette tape player that clipped on your pants and made them sag. Then of course, there was the Discman, which was inconvenient in every way possible; it was large, often bulky, and it would destroy every CD you put in it.

When the iPod came out, it was like magic. It was the first small, portable, device I can remember that was designed to carry around every album you owned, and it wouldn't mess them up. Even better? It fit in your pocket -- though it's a brick compared to the slim beauties they've been manufacturing in recent years.

The screen was tiny, black and white, and it had a few games on it. But with the glory of the iPod came an ongoing battle within the music industry, where everyone from artists to journalists are constantly arguing over and comparing sales of digital versus physical. It made life easier in the sense that you can keep your music in one place, but it made it harder in the fact that it's just one more music library to obsessively catalog and keep track of, but I'll be damned if I ever give up my iPod. ALYSSA DUPREE

I was a little late to the game as the 2nd-Generation iPod Nano as my first. In 2007 I joined a running club and one member told me about Nike+, a program that monitored workouts by relaying information from a sensor placed in your shoe to the iPod that kept track of your pace, distance, calories and time. To quote Flock of Seagulls, "I Ran (So Far Away)" with that iPod strapped to my arm, literally running and listening to music during two full marathons, 12 half-marathons and countless training runs totaling almost 1,500 miles. No way in hell would I have stuck with running if I didn't have that little gadget.

Of course, there is the seemingly biggest grumble that people miss the experience of opening a CD and reading the liner notes that has become nearly obsolete with digital music. People's music catalogs have expanded so much more with the iPod, yet seem to feel less intimate. My first iPod sent me on a quest to fill 8 gigabytes of storage with all kinds of music, but it seems so tiny now that my music collection has grown to over 600 gigs. Not sure if you can tell, but I like doing things in excess. JACK GORMAN

When the iPod Classic was first introduced, I had no intention of buying one. It was outrageously expensive, and all I'd heard was that it didn't even use MP3s, but some sort of Apple format. I hadn't used an Apple product since the heyday of Oregon Trail, and I wasn't about to plunk down $400 for a machine that couldn't even play it.

Even when I was gifted with an iPod Shuffle (who shuffles?!), iTunes proved to be such a chore to operate on my Windows PC that I gave up trying to make the stupid thing work. By the time a hand-me-down iPod Classic cost me a car window one night in Montrose, I was pretty well done with them. Overpriced crap.

Turned out that all the iPod needed was a built-in telephone and Internet browser to earn my affection. I'm now on my fourth, even-more-outrageously expensive iPhone, and a huge chunk of my music library travels with me everywhere. And you know what? All I do is listen to it on shuffle in the car. iTunes, naturally, remains a major pain in the ass when used for any purpose other than giving Apple money. Probably why there are still 40 or so jewel cases rattling around in the Nissan. NATHAN SMITH


The Ask Willie D Archives Houston's Top 10 Hipster Bars, Clubs & Icehouses 2014 Today's 10 Most Promising Young Metal Bands Hip-Hop's Seven Best Breakup Songs Houston's Top 10 Rooftop Bars and Lounges

Upcoming Events

Sponsor Content


All-access pass to top stories, events and offers around town.

Sign Up >

No Thanks!

Remind Me Later >