Monday, October 28, 2013

Rebuilding The Album Wall

First of all, it would be remiss of me not to mention Lou Reed, who passed away yesterday at the age of 71. I considered doing a whole blog post about Transformer and/or The Velvet Underground & Nico, but to be honest, I couldn't really think of anything particular to write about them. I suspect that everybody else will have plenty to say about those particular records today, so I'll just drop in my favourite songs from those two albums - Hangin' 'Round from Transformer and All Tomorrow's Parties from ...Nico - and leave it at that.

RIP Lou. Now, on to the meat of this blog post...

This is The Album Wall as it currently stands. It's skeletal-looking, full of gaps and bearing all the hallmarks of half a job. This may come as a surprise to you if you've seen this picture before:

First published in 'Does the Physical Version Matter?', a blog I did back in August.

That was what The Album Wall looked like when I first started this blog: a proud titan, home to more CDs than all of your local charity shops put together. So what's happened? Why is The Album Wall now a shell of its former self?

Well, as I mentioned in that previous blog post, I recently moved house. The healthy-looking Album Wall was mounted in my old bedroom; the sparse-looking one is in  my new house. I've been living there for a few months now, but my dad and I only got around to putting up the CD racks yesterday. As you can see, I've started to fill 'em up, but most of my CDs are still in boxes, waiting to be slotted into their new home.

The upside of this upheaval is that it's given me a chance to re-organise everything. Previously, my CD's were basically arranged in order of when I bought them (with some exceptions, but the thinking behind those exceptions is too complicated to explain here); I quite liked this, because it was like I had used those hundreds of albums to create a map of my past. Here were the CDs I purchased in the summer of 2007; there were the ones I got for Christmas in 2005; and right on top were the ones I've only just bought. It was beautiful, and if you were looking for a specific album, I was the only one who could find it for you.

But this system did have its problems. It bred vicious OCD-like tendencies in myself, for starters - I couldn't bear to have an album out of place, and that was frustrating when I wanted to take several CDs out of the rack for, say, a long car journey. Also, my collection was getting so large that even I was struggling to remember where everything was, and short of noting down the position of each and every album (that thought did cross my mind, incidentally), it would have been almost impossible to keep everything in its right place for the duration of the big move.

So I decided that it was time for a change of Nick Hornby proportions. But where the guy in High Fidelity actively pursued a labyrinthine record organisation system, I'm going in the opposite direction - streamlining, and making the whole mess a little more manageable. He had just broken up with his girlfriend, whereas I've just bought a house with mine, so while he wanted something personal, a record collection that only he could navigate, I'm aiming to make my collection accessible to all.

So I'm alphabetising, by artist. Solo artists are categorised by surname, not first name, and if I've got multiple albums by one artist, I'm putting them in the order they were released. It's a slow process (I'm just adding a chunk of CDs here and there whenever I get the chance) and I'm very aware that I've not got enough room for all of those albums, but for the moment, I'm just enjoying the reorganisation of it all. It's a nerdy kind of enjoyment, but sometimes that's the best kind.

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