Friday, October 06, 2006

Ghost in the Machine

This is me talking about my uncle again, so if you find that tiresome look away.

Roger was really into music; I just never realized how much. I'd known he was a reggae fanatic, and since we always exchanged gifts at Christmas that became sort of a shorthand for shopping. But when my brother and I went to the house the day after my sister's wedding--and what a weird, difficult experience that was--I found shelves packed with not just Jamaican artists like Bunny Wailer and Steel Pulse but also Miles Davis, Gilberto & Getz, Dwight Yoakam, k.d. lang, Gwen Stefani, Nelly Furtado, etc. My mom had told me to take some stuff so I did, along with a few books and a leather jacket. Then on the drive home my brother mentioned that he had my uncle's iPod and didn't really have a use for it. I could have it if I wanted it. I lost my own about six months ago, so I said sure.

At first I thought I'd just take it home and overwrite it with my own music, but then I thought maybe I'd listen to what was on it first. So far it's been a weird emotional roller coaster. Some of the stuff I'm not so sure about--I could do without Shaggy and pretty much anything jam-band related--but a lot of the jazz is stuff that I've been meaning to investigate more, and there are lots of nice surprises. The bits that kill me, though, are the overlaps. I hear Johnny Cash and Joe Strummer doing "Redemption Song" and I think about last Christmas, when my folks gave me Cash's Unearthed and Roger was so impressed by the lineup that he decided to buy it. I hear Lyle Lovett and I wonder how I could not have known that we were both fans of his. I can't help regretting the time we could have spent listening to and talking about music together. Sometimes it really hurts.

Anyway, I've decided that the library of tunes on Roger's iPod will stay the same. Eventually I'll probably buy another to put my own stuff on, but for now I feel like I'm getting to know him in a way I didn't while he was alive. Odd how a skinny little chunk of metal allows me to hang on to him, keep him alive, a while longer.

Um, now I'm worried that this ended up sounding kind of like a sappy commercial for Apple. Sorry about that.


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