I fixed my iPod!
Anyway, the iPod wasn't really dead. But powering it up got you a Settings menu, nothing more. It had no playlists, but would simply play all the songs in random order. Kinda neat, but not useful.
So I broke out an old TechTool Pro CD, and booted up my ancient G3 iBook with it. I plugged in the iPod, and scanned. Like I said, I knew the surface inside the drive (the little platters) had damage because I did the self-diagnostic scan and it failed. TTP told me I had 8 bad blocks, and recommended I zero out the data. Guess what? TTP had an erase disk function, which allowed me to do just that!
For some reason Apple's own disk utility wasn't doing this trick for me...
Anyway, while I won't rely on the thing, and I'm a little sad I bowed out one side getting it open a while back in an attempt to re-seat the drive, I'm happy it's working. That little 20 GB 4th gen form factor was so nice.