Picture of Sheri Burns
Listen, Don't Touch

If this column has a theme, it’s that I rarely get it in on time. But I’ve identified the problem and come up with a solution: delegation. This is the music issue, so the best person to take over for me is Zac Crain, our associate editor who handles the DownLow section. Zac had a really big job on his hands with this issue — and he handled it with the same mastery he uses to manage his music collection. — Sherri Gulczynski Burns, Editor

I’m very particular about my record collection. I have to be — otherwise it would overwhelm me. I have somewhere in the neighborhood of 5,000 CDs. On top of that, I have something like 1,000 LPs and several hundred vinyl singles of various sizes. So, yeah, I’m particular. In the room where I keep it all — it necessitated an entire room long ago — the CDs and LPs and whatnot are arranged alphabetically, and each individual band’s and artist’s records are in chronological order as well. It might be a sickness, but it’s a necessary one.

Actually, scratch that last sentence, because I don’t believe it. It’s not a sickness. There’s so much music in this world (and in my house), it just doesn’t make sense not to have it all at your fingertips. I’ve never understood how some people could just shove things onto a shelf without so much as a second glance to make sure they were putting them on the right shelf, in the right place.

When I met my wife, she definitely fell into that category of “some people.” Upon entering her apartment, I noticed a stack of a dozen or so CDs on top of her stereo. None had been returned to their cases, and some … it’s hard even to type this: Okay, some had wax on them from the candle that was foolishly positioned above the stereo, on the wire rack on which the entire monstrosity rested.

I poked through some of the cases scattered near the stereo; the ones that weren’t empty had the wrong disc inside (of course). The situation didn’t improve when I moved to where she stored her CDs. If there was any sort of order to the 60 or 70 discs she had, it was purely by accident.

While she readied herself for our date, I spent the next 20 minutes carefully rearranging the discs, finding homes for the stack on top of the stereo (and removing the wax), and then imposing my system on her CD shelves. She thought it was cute. But she didn’t find it that cute, apparently.

When I returned to her apartment for a second time, I found the exact same situation that had rudely greeted me on my first visit. Once again, while she got ready, I rearranged it all. This continued until I moved in a few months later and declared the CDs off-limits. It’s called tough love, people. Look into it.

What does this have to do with American Way’s music issue? Well, I believe that after you’ve read some of the great stories here, such as Bob Mehr’s interview with Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy, Sarah Hepola’s plea to not give up on new music, Kevin Raub’s look at the most influential bands in the history of influential bands, and James Mayfield’s personal take on the Police reunion (or any of them, really), you’ll find yourself becoming an even bigger music fan. That will no doubt lead you into a record store for a few new purchases. Those new purchases will need room on the shelf.

What I’m saying to you is this: Make sure you put them in the right place. I don’t have 20 minutes to dedicate to each of you. I have enough trouble keeping my wife out of my record room.  — Z.C.