My iPod suffers from the same problem a lot of my life does: clutter. I have this awful habit of adding things and never taking anything out.
Since I was in my car an unusual amount of time this week, I decided to listen to everything on my iPod and decide whether or not to keep it. So I started at "A" as in "A" by Barenaked Ladies. I'm still on the letter A a week later (I'm on "Automatic Schmuck" by The Hives). This might take a while.
I realized today that my iPod is a biography of me in songs.
Little kid me is there in "Adjectives" from the Schoolhouse Rock collection.
There's high school me in "Ask Me Why" by the Beatles and "Almost Paradise" by Mike Reno and Ann Wilson (Footloose!).
There's college me in "Alms! Alms!" from the Sweeney Todd Soundtrack. The love of musicals continues to more recently in "All I Care About" from the Chicago Soundtrack. There she is again in "Acony Bell" by Gillian Welch, with that lovely Appalachian sound I came to love attending college in far eastern Kentucky.
There's my early teaching career in Nome, Alaska represented by "Alpha Beta Parking Lot" by Cake, "Americans" by Corky and the Juice Pigs, "All Cheerleaders Die" by the Switchblade Kittens, "Ayagnera Marualrianek" by Pamyua, and "AM Radio" by Everclear, songs that came to me from students. One student wrote a poetry project on the lyrics to "Songs From an American Movie" by Everclear. That remains a favorite album for me to this day.
Here's some of my exploration of my Jewish background in "Araber Tants" by the Klezmatics. Here's me driving back and forth from Kansas to Kentucky over and over as I worked through my divorce with the Bloodhound Gang's "Asleep at the Wheel." There's "Alpha Shift" by Megumi Hayashibara from the anime series that saw me through my botched gall bladder surgery and recovery (Full Metal Alchemist and Cowboy Bebop are the ones that linger). Here's me working on my Spanish and finding how clever and funny Spanish language music can be in "Agüela" by Molotov.
Lots of this music came to me through people I love.
For example, "ABCD Medley" by Laurie Berkner Band is on my iPod for my youngest daughter. Laurie Berkner annoys me far less than most kid-oriented music. "I Know a Chicken" and "The Cat Came Back" are songs I might even listen to without her in the car. "Ain't Got Rhythm" from a Phineas and Ferb soundtrack album is probably the one album we can all four listen to together and all really enjoy fully.
My older daughter is all over my iPod as well. She's there in "Anyway" by Laura Love. I picked up the CD at a summer music festival during grad school because my then-toddler danced her tiny feet off when she heard her play live. "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" by Diana Ross is a song her first grade teacher used to sing to her class. When M first sang it to me and I joined in, she was astonished to find out that I knew the song. "Ain't No Rest for the Wicked" by Cage the Elephant and "Amsterdam" Imagine Dragons are more recent finds we enjoy together.
My mother is there in "Alberta" by Eric Clapton, which we sang repeatedly on our cross-Canadian adventure (driving the Alcan), punchy and laughing near-hysterically. She's also there as a young mother in "Already Gone" by The Eagles. I remember sitting on the floor looking through her 45s in the brightly colored plastic containers that looked like tall cakes. She'd play them and we'd sing along together while my dad was at work.
My sister is there in "Alone" by Heart and "All the Small Things" by Blink 182, among the songs we sing to make each other laugh when we play Rock Band.
My husband is there in songs of our courtship like "As Time Goes By" by Dooley Wilson and "All of Me" by Billie Holiday. And in songs we showed each other to find out if the other liked them, too like "After the Fall" by Elvis Costello, "All Alone" by the Gorillaz, "All Wrong" by Morphine and "All I Ask" by Crowded House. Most recently, there he is in "Anything Goes," the musical he took me, too, because I'm still a band and choir geek in my heart.
Maybe I'm not going to clean out this clutter after all. There's a lot of me in there.