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Thinking Inside the White Box

by Dylan Jones

Pub Date: Oct. 13th, 2005
ISBN: 1-59691-021-6
Publisher: Bloomsbury

Thoughts on playlists stretched out to ear/mind-numbing book length.

The invention of the iPod hit Jones (Jim Morrison: Dark Star, 1991) hard. As a lifelong music fanatic with what appears to be one of Western civilization’s more astonishing record collections, not to mention a day job as editor-in-chief of British GQ, the author was probably predisposed to be unnaturally entranced by Apple’s industry-shaking gizmo. His slim volume is part paean to the cigarette-pack-sized portable music player that has become ubiquitous on urban streets over the past few years, part autobiographical recollection of and culturally aware reflection on Jones’s musical past. He alternates between the forward thinkers at Apple who came up with the iPod and the author’s life in music, from the first single he bought in childhood (Gary Glitter, he’s ashamed to admit) up to his recent self-indoctrination in the wonders of jazz. Having spent much of his professional life working for some of London’s fancier magazines, Jones was professionally obliged to be something of a scenemaker, so he can drop a gold-plated list of names from Bryan Ferry to Sid Vicious. But there’s not much else of interest here. If Jones had the slashing wit of a Neal Pollack or Nick Hornby, this would be much easier to swallow. Failing that, his private world of near-manic culture acquisition, categorization, worship and dismissal is of barely fleeting interest even to those who share his predilections. For all his love of music, it’s too buried in John Seabrook–esque trend-seeking to be infectious. The Apple-focused chapters at least have some heft to them.

“I am the iBore,” Jones warns—take note.