I’m 38 years old and I know the alphabet by heart. I’m like wicked good at letters and even managed to teach our 3 year old a thing or two about the letter J. But for some strange reason, I’ve never been able to harness my deep knowledge of our alphabet when it comes to the simple task of alphabetizing my record collection. To be honest, I’ve agonized over taking the leap into alphabetization for nearly a decade. I’m simply incapable of splaying out my stupidly enormous record collection in alphabetical order. No, it’s not some sort of clown type phobia, it’s because I sort autobiographically.
Yes, we’ve all seen John Cusack explain the same sorting method he used in the scarily accurate record nerd film High Fidelity. Stating that he had to remember that “If you wanna find Landslide by Fleetwood Mac you have to know that I bought it for someone in the fall of 1983 and then didn’t give it to
them for personal reasons.” It’s madness. I file my Buckingham Nicks years of Fleetwood separately from the Green Welch years because it’s a different band. But the Green Welch years are of course next to Mott the Hoople and the Buckingham Nicks years are next to Crosby Stills Nash & Young which aren’t even close Young’s solo catalog. Therefore if you want to find something with laser focus in either collection, you won’t.
It all starts when you have a single crate of records as a young lad. You sort by favorites or date of purchase. Then two crates continues the trend until you have amassed a completely haywire number of crates and you must adhere to the autobiographical model. It becomes less charming over time, especially when I accidentally purchase doubles because I forgot that those Cat Stevens releases are in the garage in the crate that my Dad gave me but not mixed in with his records (which weren’t alphabetically organized either by the way) because that would be crazy.
One of the many issues with this type of or lack of coherent organization is honoring ghosts. Now stay with me here. I have inherited many collections over time and try to keep those collections within their own little pockets in order to keep track of “those are my Dad’s” or “those are Mike & Ellen’s” or “those are my aunt’s”. As honorable as this may seem it’s really just amplifies my inability to let go. I want to think “I’ll just nick this from Ellen’s crate tonight and put it back later” or “Let’s see if Dad had that Who record with that song on it that Phish covered.” So behind the madness is a little bit of more madness.
Thus autobiographically sorted is just how I keep pockets of titles that make sense only to me. My dear wife even tries to make sense of it, god love her. So with all of this said, I am taking a giant leap into alphabetization this weekend. It won’t be perfect, there will still be weirdness going on that only I could decipher. But we can honor ghosts, my preferences, and the alphabet together I guess — this could go either way.