Cataloging Quarantine: Conversation with Jordan Jacks, Writer & Record Collector

For her second contribution to our Friday with the Fellows posts, music writer Katie Moulton interviews her pal Jordan Jacks, a writer and record collector, about his quarantine project of cataloging his massive record collection in alphabetical order and reviewing each album on Twitter. It was an opportunity to think about play within constraints, connected to music.

Play requires constraints. This was a concept we discussed frequently in our fellowship seminar in the fall 2019 semester: the seeming paradox that fun – and its attendant sensation of creative freedom – were only made possible by the players first agreeing on a set of rules and boundaries. These days, we’re all getting very familiar with constraints – not only conceptually but in the real physical limits of living during a pandemic.  

 As weeks flip by, I find myself bored of my own four lucky walls, uninterested in my shelves of unread books, sick of my Netflix queue, played out on my own Spotify library. If we’ve entered the “magic circle” unwillingly, can we still locate magic or fun there? How can we find creative, meaningful reflection – or at least, a little lightness?  

These questions were on my mind, as I numbly scrolled through Twitter, when I discovered the delightful quarantine endeavor of my friend Jordan Jacks. Jordan is an Ohio-based writer, musician, and music aficionado, with a killer record collection. On March 14, he set himself the task of listening to his considerable vinyl collection of 400-500 albums – one by one, each album in its entirety, in alphabetical order. He considers each album, then writes a brief review – each no longer than the character limit of a tweet. In doing so, he’s rediscovering the musical gems that he already has – both worn-out favorites and records he forgot he owned – and, to make a synesthetic metaphor, hearing them all in new lights.  

We spoke over Zoom this week to talk about this project, surprises and satisfying juxtapositions, how rules result in randomness, and how his writing, music making and music listening work in tandem. You can dive into Jordan’s glorious record collection – in ongoing alphabetical order – on Twitter at @jordanrjacks 

May we all find ways to listen to what surrounds us and our internal rhythms with renewed ears!  

Artists mentioned in this conversation: 

 Jordan Jacks, @jordanrjacks: https://www.jordanjacks.com  

Marisa Anderson: https://www.marisaandersonmusic.com  

Roy Ayers (#1 vibraphone player): http://www.royayers.com 

 Wally Badarou: https://www.redbullmusicacademy.com/lectures/wally-badarou-wally-street-journals