Sunday, March 16, 2008

Overrun by shiny plastic platters

Growing up, I loved the ability to buy music, and replay songs I liked anytime I chose. I collected loads of records, and occasionally cassettes though I'd avoid them and buy LPs most of the time. (And then tape my LPs to listen to on my bike or, a few years later, in my car.)

As I was finishing high school CD players arrived. I wanted one as much as I'd ever wanted anything. One December weekend a 'big-box' discount electronics store in my area was having one of their frequent open-box sales, and I spent the night outside of the store, lined up on cold concrete with about a dozen other people, to purchase a display model Shar CD player for $29. At the time - 1986 - basic CD players were usually around $150-200, if I remember accurately.

I remember this occasion well. After buying the CD player, I drove to Mushroom Records and bought a used copy of Joe Jackson's Night & Day album (for $9.99, I think).

Let's jump to the late-1990's. My CD collection had grown to a difficult-to-manage size. I had a large wooden CD shelf, with a capacity of almost 600 discs. My not-yet-wife and roommate together badgered me to let them alphabetize the discs, so that they could find albums they were looking for. As things were, only I knew where the CDs belonged on the shelf, because I'd put them on the shelf as I purchased them, so they were arranged in approximately the order I'd purchased them. And I had the general location of every disc memorized. The system worked fine for me, but obviosuly it was inscrutable for anybody else. I finally relented and let the two of them arrange the discs alphabetically.

Now let's jump again, this time to the early-to-mid 2000's. My son Nathan was toddling around, and my daughter Maren hadn't been born yet. The just-under 600 CD capacity shelf was just about full, additional CDs were stacked around it, and the shelf wasn't entirely stable. My brother clued me in about a CD binder product that looked pretty neat. (http://www.the, if you're interested.) I bought 3 of the 204-CD capacity binders, and proceeded to remove every one of my CDs from it's jewel case, save the liner-notes and case inserts, and discard the jewel cases. I then began the task of organizing the discs and inserting them into the binders. After filling two of the binders, I got sidetracked, and never finished the job.

This weekend, over 5 years later, I returned to the task. I've now got three 204-disc binders, and two 232-disc binders (different brand). Half of the disc slots are consumed by the liner notes, so the binders really hold half as many CDs as they could contain. Nevertheless, all 5 binders are full, and I still have V-Z, and all of my compilations and soundtracks still un-stored. I'm estimating I've alphabetized close to 700 discs this weekend, and stored about 500 so far in the binders, along with finding and pairing the liner notes to each and every one.

I wish I'd taken a picture of my living room while I had every single CD lined up on the floor in alphabetized rows, completely covering the carpet, but at the time my back and knees ached and I didn't have the energy or motivation to try and get up and do the acrobatics necessary to tiptoe through the stacks of discs to try and get the camera.

Impressively to me, I've only discovered one missing CD so far -Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers Greatest Hits, & one missing liner notes booklet - Paul Simon's Negotiations and Love Songs. I'm hoping I'll find the liner notes booklet in Jessica's van. If the missing CD doesn't show up, I might just have to replace it; it's too good to lose.

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