The Day We Tried to Organize My Records

That’s me with a Jane Wiedlin record that I got for Christmas the year it was released. (Photo by Roo)

“Maybe we should have paid more attention to Party Girl,” Roo said.

We were three, maybe four, hours into cataloging my record collection. Mary, Parker Posey’s character in the movie Party Girl, made it look easy. It is not. She Dewey Decimalized her DJ pal’s collection with a sort of meticulousness that I have never been able to achieve. My recent move was a golden opportunity to finally attain the perfectly organized collection. Once again, though, this was devolving into a personal failure. I was sliding across the living through floor between crates of records asking Roo questions like, “How should I categorize Simply Red?”

Roo laughed. Guffawed might actually be a more accurate term.

“Which song?” he asked in return.

“‘Holding Back the Years,’ of course.”


Roo dug this Lovage album. (Photo by me)

We thought that maybe I needed a Random ’80s section. This was getting too complicated. I made it too complicated.

The night before, I hit up Roo on Facebook. “Want to come over tomorrow and help me figure out how to organize my records? Dinner’s on me.”

Roo arrived sometime in the afternoon, iPod fully charged and hosting the contents of the Party Girl soundtrack. I wanted to scream “Natasha!” and join him for an impromptu Vogueing session. I didn’t. He handed me a bag of BBQ Corn Nuts, so, instead, I croaked “Corn Nuts!”  In writing, mixed movie references are probably as bad as mixed metaphors. In real life, our love of Party Girl and Heathers overlap. Deal with it.

Inside, there were more crates of vinyl than there were pieces of furniture. I didn’t know where to begin.

When we first tried to organize the records, it looked like this. (Photo by Roo.)

“I don’t think I want to deal with genres,” I said. I explained that I wanted something more meaningful, something that describes the way I would play them in a set. There would be no goth section, no techno section. Instead, I would organize according to the way I think they sound. I came up with categories with names like “Kraftwerkin’ Day and Night.”  The problem with that is that at least 50% of the records I own can somehow fall into a category designated “Kraftwerkin’ Day and Night.”

With every crate of records came a host of new questions. Do we keep ’80s Eurodisco and ’70s American disco in the same section? Where do we put all the ’80s stuff that isn’t synth-based? How do you classify Stereolab? Why on earth would I have a Phil Collins record?

“I got it for ‘In the Air Tonight.’ I just wanted it for the drums.”

“Oh, that makes sense.”


And, by the way, where do T.A.T.U. records go? (Photo by me.)

The hours passed like a montage, but the sequence came to a halt when we realized that this wasn’t working.

“I think we need to make this easier. Maybe rock, synthpop, techno, house, disco?”

I got an “I told you so.” I deserved the “I told you so.” That revelation about making it easier was the first thing Roo said before I busted out the “I Don’t Want Genres” soliloquy.

We started from scratch three or four hours after we began. Rock came first. We pulled out records alphabetically, sorted them, got them on the shelves. And once we finished the rock section, we realized that we had been at this for a quarter of a day. We called it a night.




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