iPod People

Tracking what the plugged-in are listening to.

April 21, 2005|By Rob Hiaasen | Rob Hiaasen,SUN STAFF

Benn Ray, owner of Atomic Books, has 5,673 songs on his iPod. That's a whole lot of music and a whole lot of iPod lovin' going on at this "Literary Finds for Mutated Minds" bookstore in Hampden. The bookstore's soundtrack is Ray's playlist - and he's only halfway finished filling his 40-gigabyte iPod.

Do you know more than 10,000 songs?

Well, that's not the point. The point is more than 15.3 million iPods have been sold since the original 6.5-ounce music player was introduced in 2001. The personal jukeboxes have infiltrated homes, gyms, cars, workplaces and even the highest levels of government. The president of the United States packs an iPod, The New York Times reported this month.

News of a presidential playlist was a revelation: President Bush, mountain biking, listening to The Knack's "My Sharona!" He also has Alan Jackson and George Jones tunes, John Fogerty's "Centerfield" and Van Morrison's "Brown-Eyed Girl" on his iPod. There's also "Swinging from the Chains of Love," an obscure song by a group called Blackie & the Rodeo Kings. The playlist begged psychoanalysis: Obviously, the president appreciates country folks who like baseball and who don't mind swinging from the chains of love.

We started wondering what other people had on their iPods, and started asking around town. It's actually a rather personal question, like asking to read someone's diary. It's as if revealing their iPod tunes will immediately separate them into one of life's two main baskets: Hip or Unhip.

We thought John Waters would have an iPod. He's hip. But sources close to the filmmaker say asking Waters to navigate an iPod might be a technological stretch for him, akin to asking him to pilot the next space shuttle.

Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. does not own an iPod, according to a spokeswoman. She added, quite respectfully, that considering the governor's favorite music group is The Stylistics, a modern musical listening device is unlikely to capture his interest. Mayor Martin O'Malley's office reports that Baltimore's chief executive does not have what he might call an O'Pod. If he did, few might recognize the Irish songs on it anyway.

Others, though, were happy to reveal a fraction of their playlists. While everyone assumes songs are a window into the personality of their listeners, it's now been theorized that iPods themselves may have musical tastes.

"Anyone who uses `shuffle' a lot will tell you that iPods have a personality and go through moods," says Ray, who named his iPod AtomicPod - Atom for short. "I've heard they did studies to verify the randomness of the iPod, but I don't care. Atom definitely gets into moods where it wants to play certain kinds of music."

Here now a gallery of iPod tunes, compliments of a shuffled Baltimore population willing to stand up and say, I don't care if I'm cool or not. I will listen to Leonard Nimoy's music, if I choose. These are my songs and I will listen to them when I want because I am a citizen of the iPod Nation.

Steve Yasko

General manager, WTMD-FM, Towson University

1. "Home," Marc Broussard

2. "Cuba," The Gibson Brothers

3. "Got the Time," Joe Jackson

4. "Devils and Dust," Bruce Springsteen

5. "Doublewide," Southern Culture on the Skids

6. "Nothing But Flowers," Talking Heads

7. "Diggin' on a Road," Sonia Dada

8. "Thin Line Between Love and Hate," Annie Lennox

9. "Have Mercy," Loretta Lynn

10. "Take Your Mama," Scissor Sisters

Jessica Beaton (above)

Sex columnist, Johns Hopkins News-Letter

1. "Used to Love U," John Legend

2. "Mr. Jones," Counting Crows

3. "Elias," Dispatch

4. "Shambala," Rockapella

5. "Fighter," Christina Aguilera

6. "Boys," Britney Spears

7. "Maria Maria," Santana

8. "Rich Girl," Gwen Stefani

9. "Bridges," Dispatch

10. "Harajuku Girls," Gwen Stefani

Lee Gardner

Editor, City Paper

1. "Brown Rice," Don Cherry

2. "1 Thing," Amerie

3. "Bucky Done Gun," M.I.A.

4. "Strode Rode," Sonny Rollins

5. "Aquele Abraco," Gilberto Gil

6. "L'Via L'Viaquez," The Mars Volta

7. "Sons of Thunder," High on Fire

8. "Tribulations," LCD Soundsystem

9. "Aykedashem Lebe," Tlahoun Gessesse

10. "My Love Is," Little Willie John

Mike McKenny

Box-office manager, Merriweather Post Pavilion

1. "Be Yourself," Audioslave

2. "Galvanize," The Chemical Brothers

3. "Jesus of Suburbia," Green Day

4. "Sitting, Waiting, Wishing," Jack Johnson

5. "Karma," Alicia Keys

6. "Time is Running Out," Muse

7. "Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)," Sly & the Family Stone

8. "Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own," U2

9. "Sucker Train Blues," Velvet Revolver

10. "Fell in Love With a Girl," The White Stripes

Jon A. Kaplan

Trainer, Downtown Athletic Club

1. "Don't You Worry About a Thing," Incognito

2. "Superstition," Stevie Wonder

3. "September," Earth Wind & Fire

4. "Everybody's a Little Bit Racist," Broadway musical, Avenue Q

5. "Everyday," Incognito

6. "Lido Shuffle," Boz Scaggs

7. "These Shoes (Remix)," Bette Midler

8. "A Horse With No Name," America

9. "This Time I Know It's For Real," Donna Summer

10. "Copacabana (Remix)," Barry Manilow

Craig Boarman

Co-owner, Ottobar

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