The passing of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs came as quite a surprise to me. I knew he had been battling cancer for many years now, and his resignation as Apple’s CEO got many people wondering if his health was significantly failing. I looked at his step down as just a way to slow his pace of life down, to get away from his job and focus on things that were more personal to him. So I was a little shocked when I saw the headline announcing his death.
And I’m surprisingly saddened by the news. I don’t find myself mourning the death of strangers too often. The news of someone’s loved one passing or a young child dying in a tragic accident is always sad to hear, but I’m rarely personally affected. While I certainly wouldn’t say I’m personally affected by the passing of Jobs, I do feel more sorrow than I would expect.
I think it’s because of this man’s legacy. Steve Jobs was an original. His work was groundbreaking and changed the shape of information and how we take it in and experience the world around us. He played a far bigger role in popular culture of the last thirty years than most people would think to attribute to him. A musician or actor can do their craft well and move people and affect change by their status or societal role. But Jobs did more than that. His creativity has changed the scope of an entire industry forever.
Jobs’ work in personal and portable computing has essentially defined how I listen to and digest music. That blows my mind. When I became a legitimate musical consumer, it was early on in the decade. That’s when Apple released the first iPod. And while I didn’t have my own personal iPod until about five years later, the invention of iTunes and its subsequent ubiquity on computers created the essential music listening experience for me. When I think of the absolute best way to really listen to and take in, to digest and absorb and consume, to really engage in a new album, the perfect scenario for me is in my apartment after 9 pm, one lamp on the lowest notch, room temperature about 68°, window open, light breeze, rum and coke in hand, and my laptop hooked up to my Bose computer speakers playing music from iTunes. I love to see those play counts increase. Adults who grew up in the ’70s mourn the loss of analog formats and are sad to see so many people not listening to turntables anymore; in fifteen or twenty years I’m going to be sad to see that my kids are listening to music on whatever the new hip thing is rather than on iTunes.
In essence, Jobs provided me with a fundamentally important part of my life experience. Music is so important to me, and I listen to it with his program and his devices. I owe a great deal to his legacy.
Aside from that, it’s rare to see such a perfect mix of talent, creativity, business savvy, innovation, and personal and professional aesthetic in our culture today. It’s sad to see such a creative mind leave the world. Thanks for everything, Steve. You gave my musical world a home.