I recently suffered a bereavement.  It pretty much shook up my world. A couple of months ago, my laptop died. Along with it, went my entire music collection. Years and years of collecting files, borrowing and uploading CDs, and being sent tracks all gone.  Thankfully, after a couple of weeks of frantic worrying, my collection was eventually restored onto a hard drive. Phew… you’re probably thinking:

Not me next!

For me, an unorganised clump of files in one folder was almost worse than losing the files in the first place. It was a moment of stark realisation; I have Music OCD.

Perhaps it comes from my Dad. If you venture in to the dark dusty corners of my attic, you will find an extensive record collection preserved in a meticulously organised fashion.  All the records have been removed from their sleeves (which are kept in separate boxes) and are tucked away safely in cardboard wallets. LPs live in one box, seven inches in another.  When I became the proud owner of my pink 1960s Dansette Monarch record player a couple of years ago, I was disappointed that ownership didn’t automatically qualify me for ‘free-for-all’ access to this collection.

But now I understand why. There is something about having all your music organised just the way you like it that provides a satisfaction unlike any other. I decided rather than to throw this mess of a collection on my hard drive into the Tay and follow suit, I should see this as an opportunity to indulge in my newfound acceptance of my Music OCD. I have since begun the long process of organising songs into albums, by artist, by genre in neat little folders on my new computer. Every time I complete an artist, there is an inexplicably overwhelming sensation of gratification that comes with the promise that every orderly little folder (complete with album artwork) brings me one step closer to organised perfection.

There is light at the end of this tunnel. When I mentioned this time-consuming venture to friends, I am always met with the response “That is such a good idea. I need my music like that too or it drives me crazy”. That’s the thing, this isn’t just an eccentric scheme to focus on as an alternative to revision; it’s a need. People genuinely seem to feel organised music isn’t just a bonus to the daily workings of their iTunes, it’s a necessity.

So maybe I’m not crazy. Perhaps this obsession is not something to be ashamed of. After speaking to other people, I’m starting to think it’s normal.  I’ve realised I’m not embarrassed anymore and neither should all those closet-music-organizing obsessives out there either.

To borrow a phrase (sort of) from The Commitments, say it once, say it loud: I am a music obsessive and I’m proud.


Anna McDonald