the last phase of yours and yours and mine

“to a large degree, the inventory became the story of my life as a record collector…”

In 1975, a couple of things happened: a portable stereo (w/8-track!) was passed on to me by my parents, and I fell under the influence of some senior basketball players who used to sing Neil Young songs while riding the team bus. The music they enthused about interested me because it fell outside my radio experience (Spirit’s Dr. Sardonicus, one of my first favorite albums, and Genesis’ Lamb Lies Down were their other big records), so, stereo now in tow, I decided to jump into the fray and start an album collection. I began, I’m not sure why, with the simultaneous purchase of The Worst of Jefferson Airplane and (oops) Weird Scenes Inside the Goldmine. Both were bought at G&S Stereo, a landmark of Georgetown’s cultural heritage (“Even the bus stops at G&S’s door”). With an eye towards the future, I made it a point to treat whatever albums I bought with great care. Somewhere along the way I bought Logan and Woffinden’s Encyclopedia of Rock, and soon after stopped listening to the radio altogether; my assimilation of pop music became completely bound up in filling gaps in my collection. Albums, both mysterious and sacred artifacts in their own right and as building blocks in the drive to own everything worth owning, occupied the forefront of my imagination. They became psychologically, pathologically, linked to currency—whenever I had money, I bought an album. My mom was baffled. And not very happy.

This went on at the rate of an LP-per-week for four years, some real good’uns mixed in with your Gentle Giants and Moxys, leaving me with 200 or so albums as I started university in 1979. Now, 200 albums is of course nothing, but I’d sit back and look at them and feel overwhelmed with satisfaction: independent, wealthy, discriminating, alive. Like God, more or less. Collecting records is tantamount to feeling like God…
[from “Vinyl Zombies,” Nerve, 1988]

How is your recorded music collection organized? Why do you use this method?

Ninety percent of my records are arranged the simplest way of all: alphabetically by artist, chronologically within a given artist. Sorting by genre, as some people do, would be confusing and ultimately impossible; it can also be a little creepy, like this one person I know who arranges his records by genre so you can be impressed by the regal breadth of his jazz collection. I do keep separate whatever classical records I have, for the practical reason that I just don’t know a lot of the composers’ names well enough to go searching for a particular one if I want to hear some classical. They’re filed before the alphabetical part starts, along with 12-inch singles (same rationale, as many are by obscure people I’d never remember if I had to go looking for one; if I subsequently buy an album by someone where I already have a 12-inch, both go into the alphabetical section) and multi-artist compilations. These latter I arrange by genre—doo-wop, punk, country, etc., highlighted by my four-album worldbeat collection (Rainy Night in Tokyo, This Is Hawaiian Music, Beautiful Hawaiian Steel Guitar, and The Three Smiles) and one-album comedy section (Welcome to the LBJ Ranch). I should really move LBJ into the alphabetical section, seeing as it’s not a compilation, but I think it’s important that everyone have a comedy section…
[from KITSCHener, 1997]

Bonus Audio Content: Scott Woods interviews Phil Dellio in 2006 about his record inventory.

rainy night

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