I just replaced my ipod, which died quite a while ago, and am once again enjoying music on my commute. I've always loved the way a walkman/discman/ipod gives my life a soundtrack that gives meaning to everything I see. I love the juxtapositions and ironies it creates, like listening to The Ramones on my way to work for the Establishment the other day. The way Strauss's waltzes synchronize perfectly with the movement of the city is one of my favorite combinations. I have a vivid memory from probably ten years ago of listening to a friend's mix that included a Native American group who combined traditional singing and drums with a modern rock sound--the song became an angry lament that haunted the glass, steel, and concrete canyons of downtown Chicago I walked through.
Music can create a still, even spiritual, center as the sights of the city wash over me. I used to say I wanted to found a church and have worship services that consisted of piling everyone onto a bus and driving around the city listening to music and watching the world go by. Somehow music lets me see the world from a godlike perspective of detachment and peace, and yet also recognizes and celebrates the joy and heartbreak swirling around me. It's not detachment in the sense that nothing matters, but rather that everything matters, and it's beautiful.
I've often said, with an only slightly tongue-in-cheek touch of melodrama, that my lack of musical ability is my great personal tragedy. There's nothing like it for capturing the meaning of life, and I wish I could wield that kind of power of expression.