For the first time in a couple of years, I am caught up with filing my CDs and an attempt at a count of the collection. Over the last month I have been filing CDs in stupid piles and long trains on the floor into the potpourri of shelves – some of wood but most of the 4- or 5-tiered plastic variety – and now I have them organized, up off the floor and integrated into the overall collection, and THAT IS GOOD.
However, this still leaves anything from 2003 that I haven’t listened to yet, which is another 600 or so to deal with, but that’s another story.
Besides having the satisfaction of knowing what I have, knowing where it is, and the aesthetic gratification of seeing full orderly shelves rather than a mine field floor, the effort also gave me a chance to count what I have. To my mild displeasure I find I have less than I thought, but a substantial number nonetheless. Also, to my amazement and sense of symmetry, the numbers are remarkably round: I have very close to 10,000 CDs and 7,000 vinyl records, for a total of approximately 17,000 recordings.
Did I actually count them all? Is Howard Dean going to be president? No, what I did was measure the space they take up, fairly carefully, at the rate of 32 per foot for CDs, and 80 per foot for vinyl. I have taken several samples and these figures are quite consistent. Basically, the vinyl is in one room and the CDs in another. The CD room can take about two more sets of shelves, arranged library stacks style, and then I don’t know what the hell I’m going to do.
Just to further display my capacity for anality, here are some facts and figures. Let’s take one row of one shelf: we’ll make it a small one because I’m not that bored.
The nature of my collection is such that I have dense coverage of the ’70s and ’80s in vinyl, and ’90s and ’00s in CDs, with the caveat that I have tons of collections in each that span recorded history. With the inevitable holes, I think my collection is a fairly good representation of recorded history, though it is very weak in the completist sense prior to the rock ‘n’ roll era, and anything pre-’70 is mostly represented in collections, greatest hits packages, and the like.
In other words I am primarily a utilitarian collector – I don’t have all that many recordings that are valuable in and of themselves, but the music they contain is valuable from a historical standpoint, and of course, a personal one. It is also very broad because I have been a professional live and radio DJ for most of my adult life and I have a lot of things because I have had to, not necessarily because it’s my favorite.
I seem to be accumulating recordings at the rate of about 2,000 a year in my present capacity as entertainment journalist and music fan, so extrapolated out, in 35 years I would have close to 90,000, which seems like a reasonable number. I have friends and acquaintances whose collections go into the hundreds-of-thousands, but they just strike me as huge blobs with which their owners don’t really have much of a personal relationship. I’d rather have a more purposed collection that represents both my own interests and a general sense of recorded history than just a shitload of stuff. But maybe I’m jealous.
My collection is in alphabetical order by artist, and then chronologically within a given artist. For various reasons, I have separated out a reggae/Caribbean section, a blues section, and a classical section.
All multiple artist collections, soundtracks, etc., are also in their own section, which is quite large. I have a separate section for box sets, which are too unwieldy to file with the regular CDs, and separate sections for CD singles, vinyl 45s and vinyl 12 inches, and I have a traveling DJ collection of about 500 records and CDs separated out.
Okay, this group of CDs from the main collection takes up about 15 inches – there are 43 of them. (Please recall that many 2003 CDs aren’t yet filed.) They are:
Lordz of Brooklyn – All In the Family
Los Amigos Invisibles – The New Sound of Venezuelan Gozadera
Los Hombres Calientes – Vol 3
Los Infernos – Los Infernos
Los Lobos – The Neighborhood
Los Lobos – Colossal Head
Los Lobos – Good Morning Azatlan
[Los Lobos box set, filed elsewhere] Los Mocosos – Shades of Brown
Los Straitjackets – Sing Along With…
Los Super Seven – Canto
Lost At Last – Lost At Last
Lost Prophets – Thefakesoundofprogress…
Lothar and the Hand People – Presenting…
Lotion – Full Isaac
Lotus Crown – Chokin’ On the Jokes
The Loud Family – Plants and Birds and Rocks and Things
– Slouching Towards Liverpool
Loudhouse – For Crying Out Loud
Loudspeaker – Supernatural
Loud Sugar – Loud Sugar
Joe Lovano – Flights of Fancy
– Viva Caruso
Love – Forever Changes
G. Love and Special Sauce – G. Love and Special Sauce
– The Electric Mile
Laura Love – Fourteen Days
Love and Rockets – Hot Trip to Heaven
– Sweet F.A.
Love Battery – Between the Eyes
– Far Gone
– Nehru Jacket
Love In Reverse – I Was Dog EP
– I Was Here
Love Tractor – The Sky At Night
Lyle Lovett – The Lyle Lovett Collection
– You Can’t Resist It
– I Love Everybody
Lene Lovich – Flex … Plus
The Lovin’ Miserys – Happy As Hell
Low + Dirty Three – Low + Dirty Three
Nick Lowe – Basher: The Best Of
Pretty weird group, I admit. Here is the same alphabetical range from the vinyl albums main collection:
Lords of the New Church – Killer Lords
Los Amigos Invisibles – Sampler
Los Lobos – And a Time to Dance
– How Will the Wolf Survive?
– La Pistola y El Corazon
– By the Light of the Moon
Love – Da Capo
Love and Money – All You Need Is…
Love Child – Okay?
Loverboy – Get Lucky
– Keep it Up
Lyle Lovett – Pontiac
Lene Lovich – New Toy
The Lovin’ Spoonful – The Best Of Vol. 1
– The Best Of Vol. 2
– The Best Of
Nick Lowe – Labour of Lust
There are only 18, so one could conclude that the CDs are more than twice as dense, if one wished. I could go on and on, but I already have. One more comparison just for fun, or for the sake of compulsion – let’s look at a similar alphabetical section of the collections.
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Rings
Euro-Lounge [filed under Lounge] Livin’ Lounge – The Fabulous Sounds of Now [filed under Lounge] Loved Up: The Uplifting Club Mix
Love Metal: 12 Classic Heavy Metal Hits
Everlasting Love Songs
Millennium Love Songs
Only Lost Angels and The Lost Boys are in the comparable vinyl collection section. Recall that reggae, blues, classical, anything in the traveling collection, and most releases from 2003 are elsewhere.
That was fun for me – I imagine most of you feel like my daughter did when I explained much of this to her over the phone the other night. She was polite about it – she’s a sweet young woman.