To Know Me, Know My IPod

New York Times writer John Schwartz acquires a colleague’s iPod and wonders at the invasion of privacy.

So eavesdropping on Ken’s iPod worried me. I have read about people randomly plugging in to each others’ iPods to figure out what songs are in their friends’ heads, or even in the heads of strangers. (They call it “podjacking.”) But this was a mind meld.

What if I hated Ken’s taste? Would I lose respect for him? I’m not talking about the Paula Abdul songs; we’re all entitled to our guilty pleasures. But what if it was all bubblegum, or deeply dull? It would be like opening his closet and finding Star Trek uniforms. I fretted.

But I fretted wrong. Moments of serendipity thrilled me; I was driving with my teenage daughter, listening to the iPod through the car stereo, when the Beatles’ “Yesterday” began to play. It’s a song that is nearly dead to me after so many thousands of repetitions. But when it finished, the machine skipped to a version of the song I had never heard, by Ray Charles. He sang with all the pain and heart that the twentysomething Paul McCartney could not have known, and I listened with tears in my eyes.

It’s an interesting essay.