Nobody has ever asked us if they can scroll through our iTunes, yet plenty of people have wanted to rummage through our physical collection of music. This is important.
There’s something about physical, be it vinyl or CDs, that feels so much more meaningful than something that you can’t even touch. It’s like real sex against porn or a satisfying meal at your favourite restaurant compared with a picture of someone’s lunch on Instagram.
MP3s have plenty of advantages. They are cheaper, they are transportable, you can send them over the internet, feature them on websites and they take up a lot less space. Yet despite the pros, the cons are that they deprive our well trained senses of a fuller experience.
So if physical music collections are important, then it makes sense that we should treat them with the respect they deserve. This means embracing your inner geek and accepting that the order you store your CDs and vinyl in needs careful consideration. If like us you own thousands of the things then unless you want to select material on the basis of something similar to the iTunes shuffle facility this is going to mean arranging your collection with some sort of logic. Thankfully this is where the alphabet is our saviour. It makes things easy.
Or does it?
So here’s how we arrange our collection. Every artist is stored in alphabetical order (surnames taking precedence over first names) with albums in front of singles, chronologically. Now this sounds simple, but if like us you’re just slightly anal about these things, you want to get it right. And this is where the questions begin.
Take the start of our collection under the letter A. The first bands we have are Abba, ABC and A Camp, in that order. But wait, shouldn’t A Camp come before Abba as it’s A ‘space’ Camp? Or should (as iTunes does) A Camp be stored under C? After all we file The Beatles under B rather than T. But then what of Abba and ABC? Our slightly dog-eared British Hit Singles & Albums book arranges everything in alphabetical order but places ABC before Abba. Even more confusingly it places A Camp after ABC but before Abba. Our logical ordered world is troubled with dizziness. And remember THIS STUFF IS IMPORTANT.
Next take Kylie Minogue. Now that’s easy. She’s under M for Minogue. But what about when she dropped the Minogue from her record sleeves and just became Kylie? Should we then file her under K? After all Madonna and Prince are both filed under their first names as is Adele (not far behind A Camp). Then there’s the added difficulty of collaborations. Where do we file the single of Where The Wild Roses Grow by Nick Cave and Kylie? With our Kylie records or with the Nick Cave ones (which could be quite close to those bloody A Camp albums if we choose the C option for them). And where exactly does Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds go? Under C for Cave or N for Nick? Maybe we should buy two copies of that particular record and put one in each slot?
Then there’s compilations. Where do we put those? At the end? The beginning? Under V for various artists? And in what order? Date? Alphabetical order of title? The possibilities get scary.
And what about acts like Dan Le Sac and Scroobius Pip who then each go on to have solo albums? The more we think about this particular example the more exasperated we become.
And don’t even mention numbers. Do 2 Unlimited slot in with the Ts, or go at the front or back of the collection in number order between 1 Giant Leap and 3 Colours Red?* And if they do where do the numbers written as words such as The Three Degrees go?
And before we lose the plot completely what about bands that change their name but are the same act? For example the original Sugababes now known as MKS? Do we separate their records up? And does MKS come before Madonna (assuming she’s not under Ciccone somewhere near the refilled A Camp) or after her?
Oh f*ck it maybe iTunes is easier after all.
*Important footnote – we don’t actually own any 2 Unlimited, 1 Giant Leap or 3 Colours Red records.
** Important footnote number 2 – other methods of organisation are available. However with thousands of CDs rearranging them into one long chronological order, by genre or even by the colour of their spine fills us with time consuming dread.
A Camp - I Can Buy You