Sunday, March 16, 2008


I have a confession to make. I occasionally recycle my albums. Not the good recycling, either. The pathetic recycling. The act of playing each and every one of my albums, one after the other, until I’ve gone through them all. So, day after day, week after week, month after month, I will methodically go down the list – almost to the total exclusion of other music - until I have played every last one of them.

Back in college, one friend admitted to doing this, so I confess now, assuming that this won’t make me seem completely ridiculous. Of course, it gets more ridiculous as you get more albums. And at the time, my friend probably had, what, 50? How long did that take? A few weeks? Ha! We are now closing in on 1300, so I’m talking a level of commitment not given to many marriages.

Why, you ask? Well… there are lots of reasons! Some of them rational:

  • You get to hear something great that you haven’t heard for a while.
  • You give the albums you didn’t care for the first time around another chance.
  • You get to artificially fill the gaping void in your life.

I heard a music writer being interviewed on the radio say that he occasionally recycles his albums to help him decide which ones to get rid of! This, of course, is madness. Who gets rid of albums? No, don’t say it.

Now, it might seem to you that recycling is a pretty straightforward thing to do. Most human endeavors – even the non-ridiculous ones – appear easier at first than they actually are. You probably think that it’s just a matter of starting at the top of a stack of records, and just going until you get to the bottom. Well, yes, you could do that. But silliness in no way implies a lack of seriousness. In fact, it can carry some grave responsibilities with it.

First of all, you probably have CDs, tapes, vinyl and maybe even 8-tracks. So they’re not stacked. Not together anyway. So what to do? First play all the CDs, and then the tapes, etc.? Right? Too easy! Come on, use your imagination! Nothing that is not worthwhile is easy. With that in mind, I shall explain the different varieties of recycling.


You can simply play your albums alphabetically (no, not by title, stupid) by Artist. This approach will stand or fall based on the jarring change of tone that occurs when you go from Talking Heads to James Taylor. It keeps things from getting boring, but you may not be in the mood for Sweet Baby James after hearing “Psychokiller”. But then again, maybe you will be.

Personally, I feel that this approach is beneath contempt. You could make the argument that it provides variety by its very arbitrariness. I could make the argument that you could eat your food alphabetically, too.

By Release Date:

Or you can put your records in order of when they came out. In other words, you play your Beatles before your Ramones before your Radiohead. This provides some context for your music, and can give you a greater appreciation for some of your more adventurous stuff.

I like this approach, but, you’ve got to have your music database in order. (What do you mean, you don’t have a music database?)

Is everyone still with me?

By Historically Significant Date:

This is a further refinement on the Release Date method. But instead of blindly going by when the record hit the shelves, you go chronologically by when the music was made. It sounds like the same thing as Release Date, but it’s not. “Let It Be” gets played before “Abbey Road”, for instance. It puts greatest hits albums where they belong, and gets your jazz and classical up front.

This approach is great for guys who don’t have girlfriends.

By When You Bought it:

This is my favorite because it’s the most autobiographical. To do this is to relive old times, good and bad. How do you feel about that? Do you want all those memories coming back?

This is going to happen to some extent, no matter what – it’s the same music, after all, but in a different order - but this approach really rams it down your throat. So if you’ve ever had a particularly bad patch in your life, you might find yourself spending more time on it than is wise.

This is great for those who like to wallow in shame or regret.

Why Not?

You could very reasonably argue that doing any of these things keeps you from exploring new stuff. I agree, but let’s face it, you’re not doing that anyway. Try to consider recycling as a way of tilling the soil. When you’re done, you will be primed to find out what music is being made now.

Call it a cheap thrills project to add pseudo meaning to your life. Or just to pass the time. Because we all have so much of that, don’t we?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I assume you're being facetious in your last paragraph. lol