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Whoever stole my iPod stole the soundtrack of my life

Although I’ve never Twittered or even texted and am rapidly acquiring the knees of a nonagerian, I share a bond with kids who have yet to take a legal drink. Some lowlife has stolen my iPod.

Unlike the kids, I wasn’t mugged for my music. The thief didn’t threaten me with a knife. All he had to do was slip into my office while I was out for a grocery run. My husband, on the phone in the adjacent office, heard nothing but the cheerful purr that our security system emits whenever someone opens the door. “She’s back,” he thought. Until I came back for real, found the iPod missing from my desktop and let loose a volley of curses.

As iPod thefts go, mine was positively antiseptic. Two years ago in Ottawa, a youth was stabbed to death for refusing to give up an iPod (his assailant is now on trial for murder). Kids would rather fight a posse of bullies than be parted from their music. The murder victim, Michael Oatway, was fighting for his girlfriend’s music; she had lent him the iPod.

You have to be very young to invest such ferocious, unwavering devotion in a mere object. In the twilight of my 50s, I’m clinging to my right to be called “middle-aged.” But I still know how it feels to be transported by a song, and that’s what I find so galling about the theft of my iPod. “Songs are the seven-league boots of romance,” as Elizabeth Hay writes in her Giller Prize-winning novel Late Nights on Air. Actually, that’s not the half of it. For every emotional state, from delight to regret to righteous indignation, I’ve found that there’s a song to magnify the experience.

An outmoded clunker of an iPod like mine is worth maybe $10 or $20, minus its playlist. By now my vanished iPod has been cleansed of every trace of me. Like my wardrobe, it contained a few spectacular lapses in judgment (whatever possessed me to download “Spirit in the Sky”?). But I loved it for the treasures worth replaying thousands of times. Whoever stole my iPod didn’t know what he was missing. For instance:

Stevie Wonder 6Most irresistibly tuneful goofy song: “Shoo-Be-Doo-Be-Doo-Da-Day” by Stevie Wonder (runner-up: “Good Vibrations” by the Beach Boys). This one never fails to get me pounding faster on the elliptical machine.

Best kiss-off song: “Positively Fourth Street,” in which Bob Dylan stands up for all of us who’ve been dissed behind our backs by so-called friends. Say it again, Bob! Their sour spirits are not our problem.

Only song about the Virgin Mary that even an atheist could love:“Mary” by the amazing Patty Griffin, whose lyrics reach the same heights as her voice.This is one of those rare songs you can actually sit down and read, but don’t let that stop you from listening. As the mother of a son, I’m particularly touched by Griffin’s portrayal of Jesus as a young man in a hurry, kissing his rueful mom goodbye as he tears off to fulfill his destiny: “While the angels are singing his praises in a blaze of glory/ Mary stays behind and starts cleaning up the place.”

Most poignant song about teen rebellion: “Schooldays” by Loudon Wainwright III, as sung by his son Rufus, who conjures both the braggadoccio and the vulnerability of kids aspiring to be Brando, Buddha and Blake all at once. This is my favourite track on the easygoing family tunefest known as The McGarrigle Hour (Kate McGarrigle is Rufus’s mother and Loudon’s ex-wife).

Most heart-wrenching serenade to the wrong guy: “A Case of You,” Joni Mitchell‘s song about trying to love Leonard Cohen. So I’ve read, anyway. But really, who cares? The song positively shimmers with regretful longing.

Emmylou LindaMost captivating duet: Just about any track from The Western Wall: the Tucson Sessionsthe joint creation of Emmylou Harris and Linda Rondstadt. If I have to pick one, I’ll take “He Was Mine,” because it feels so good to hear women of wisdom rock so hard, high on friendship if not on love.

Sexiest song about being the wrong guy and proud of it: “Who Do You Love,” performed with relentless, foot-stamping energy by Ronnie Hawkins and his former proteges, The Band, on The Last Waltz. “Got a tombstone hand and a graveyard mind/ I’ve turned 41 and I don’t mind dyin’…” Well, guys, I turned 41 myself a while back and this number makes me want to shake my booty for a while longer.

Wittiest dirge about dying: Warren Zevon’s “Dirty Life and Times,” from his transcendant final album The Wind (recorded as the womanizing, drug-abusing scoundrel was dying of lung cancer and seeking consolation). Favourite line: “I’m looking for a woman with low self-esteem.” Shouldn’t have any trouble on that score, buddy.


Posted by Rona

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