iTunes ranks among the strongest apps to reach the hands of computer users for the ridiculous price of free.
With this musical database, you and I have the pleasure of storing our personal favorite tunes where they can be organized, played and modified to fit our whim. They can be transferred to music players, CDs, DVDs and shared.
What I enjoy best about iTunes is its enormous appetite for music from any genre, any generation and any artist.
Several years ago, my great friend Scott Pederson presented me a single DVD, which proved to change my relationship with iTunes forever.
The DVD in question contained a gift I hope all music historians receive while they are able to play it and dance to it. He sent me the Billboard Top 100 songs annual list from 1970-2005. In 35 years of rock’n’roll, pop, country, dance, hip-hop and various other styles, Scott has given me a way to re-live both my brightest moments and my darkest days.
In June 1973, the Carter family left its Michigan abode and commenced an epic, 4-week vacation driving from Lake Michigan to Arkansas, then Armarillo, Flagstaff and finally Southern California where my grandparents lived.
On the way back, my dad chose a northerly route through Las Vegas, Denver and Chicago. And during the entire trip — sometimes several times each day — Karen Carpenter joined us with her melodic rendition of “Yesterday Once More.”
I know I memorized the lyrics after hearing the song seven more times in Oklahoma on one of our famous 600-mile jogs. Some members of the family are now nauseous when the Carpenters are mentioned at the dinner the dinner table.
But I can still name that tune in two notes.
Three years later, we moved from Michigan to Mississippi. To prepare, three boys had the time of their lives painting a roomy, 1-story home. 1976 was the summer of America’s Bi-Centennial and Elton John and Kiki Dee’s duet, Don’t Go Breaking My Heart.”
I do not intend for you to believe that these songs owned the charts, but they did well. And now the memories of an 8-year-old exploring the Grand Canyon, Meteor Crater and the Rocky Mountains and painting his gigantic home are easily retrieved with an iTunes search for 1973 or 1976.
Seven seasons later, I entered my senior year in high school in Texas. It was 1983, and Michael Jackson owned the Billboard charts with huge hits like Billie Jean, Beat It, PYT, Thriller and more. While the music set an unprecedented standard for excellence, I have to say that after 30 years, the Billie Jean, Beat It and Thriller videos are among my strongest visual memories from that year.
While I never found his tunes on the Billboard Top 100, Star Search champion Sam Harris, who later worked his magic on Broadway, stole the hearts of my future wife and I in 1986 with his version of Somewhere Over The Rainbow.
In recent years, my search for musical talent seemed struggle. Even so, the journey has revealed the likes of John Legend, Whitney Houston, Sugarland, MercyMe, Lady Antebellum, Adele, Josh Groban and Michael Buble among others.
It has been a continuing search for the immense talent the 1960s and 1970s that brought fans to their feet. Groups like Elvis, Eagles, ELO, Willie Nelson/Waylon Jennings/Johnny Paycheck/Johnny Cash, The Beatles,Pat Benatar, Gordon Lightfoot and many more legends.
Just tonight my youngest child, now 19, and her boyfriend were toying around with iTunes. Sensing some tension in the room, I asked Connor to pick a happy song, and almost immediately to The Beach Boys’ Little Deuce Coupe. Now there is a young man I can identify with.
I freely admit my iTunes music collection contains about 15,000 songs, and I don’t love all of them. So you take your chances when you push “Shuffle” around here.
Although the odds are perhaps working against me, I’ve always been an optimist, believing that God sends subtle messages to each of us with his song choices. It’s a bit like an answered prayer when the perfect song comes on the radio or the right artist grabs the mike as you enter the room.
Am I suggesting God and Steve Jobs worked on the invention of iTunes together? No. I believe Apple’s software wizards created a path for the all music lovers to get what songs they want and when they want them.
No more driving to the mall for an album purchase when only two songs are significant. No it’s much better.
And God’s role may appear non-existent to some, I choose to believe He plays a role in every aspect of my life. Without God’s input and the timely invitation of my parents, I may never have been introduced to Alfie Boe, a vocalist who has the chops to sing the most demanding roles on Broadway or the London stage. His lead role in the 25th anniversary of Les Miserables ranks as astounding and became a powerful prayer in a time of need in 2012.