I feel like a lucky collector

I hit some records stores over the weekend. I do that from time to time. It gets difficult when I’m looking for something to change my life. You can’t always predict that, but you have to be ready to roll the dice on something. I guess I wasn’t ready. I actually own so many records and most everything of my favorite artists, so it was hard to hit on something promising. I ended up going home with a copy of Pacific Ocean Blue, which I suppose hit the spot.

I was browsing at this one store in Fords, NJ that I’ve been going to for over 20 years. They have the real collectable records on the walls. You have to ask for help to check one of them out. They are nicely displayed with plastic covers and usually priced with a Post-It note, upon which is scrawled an even dollar amount. I saw a copy of the Beatles Anthology 2, a three-record set that I picked up as soon as it was released back in the mid ’90s. I didn’t think much of it then. I was buying records when they were available, because I preferred them to CDs. Even though records would not enjoy their cultural renaissance for at least another decade, big releases would have a short vinyl run at that time. I still play the Anthology records regularly. When I looked up and saw this album on the wall, I couldn’t believe the price they’d put on it:

$175

What!?! Since, like everything else meaningful, the idea of records is being re-packaged and sold back to the people for a king’s ransom – just because, I shouldn’t have been surprised. I was offended that the 180 gram vinyl release of Blood, Sweat and Tears was going for $30. But $175 for a record I own that is still in mint condition? “I guess I’m lucky I got those records when I did,” I thought. They’ve gone out of print in my lifetime and didn’t seem so obscure when I got them. Beatles records? They don’t go out of print!

Not finding the elusive life-changing record, I had no choice but to move on to Princeton. That place was hopping last Saturday. While I wandered around aimlessly, I couldn’t help overhearing my fellow record people speaking our language, the vernacular of vinyl: Mint, Near Mint and for those of us low on bread, VG. Original pressings and re-issues. Though not a word, also familiar was the occasional gasp of recognition when a long-sought record appeared in the rack, seemingly waiting just for the right vinyl guy on a quest for it. I was looking for that, but it didn’t happen. Luckily, Kersey found the Dennis Wilson for me.

As we were leaving, I heard this guy lamenting how rare this record or that record was. He was telling his sob story to some other cat that worked there. Each one was trying to one-up the other with his own holy grail tale. “Springsteen: Live in New York. Now that’s a rare record!”

I have that one too. I paid retail in 2000 or so when it came out. Am I a lucky collector? I just bought records when most people didn’t. Actually, I’m not a collector at all. Records and guitars are meant to be played and enjoyed. I don’t “collect” them, in that I don’t hang them on the wall under strategically-placed track lighting.

However, if you have a near mint, original pressing of Uncle Meat, we should probably talk price.

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