How We Listen & How We Collect

Thanks to all for keeping the site current during my unexpected and prolonged absence. More than 60 comments and counting on the last item is quite impressive. I will try not to do that too often, but I was able to get a much-needed break from life and work and spend some time with The Lovely Mrs. JC in beautiful Provincetown, Ma., where we got to sit on the beach, view the eclipse, eat lobster and marvel at the beautiful sunsets and scenery. Now that I am back I feel compelled to at least catch up on some of the ongoing conversations and items I was watching before I left.

Let’s start with the riff on listening or not listening to our records. I don’t begrudge anybody their preferences on how to collection. As far as I’m concerned, it’s your money, your time, your enjoyment. Do whatever you want. As for me, I find that, in reality, my approach is somewhat mixed. I have no problem at all putting any of my records on my turntable and, in fact, take tremendous pleasure in listening to the real rarities in their original form and format. Just the other day I put on my beautiful mint original pressing of Saxophone Colossus, poured a glass of Porter and listened from beginning to end. Sheer ecstasy. And a few days before that, I took my portable Califone record player out to the porch here in The Berkshires and brought out a bunch of original 78s — Fats Waller, Louis Jordan, Charlie Parker, Billie Holiday and Lester Young. Again, sheer ecstasy.

Where I find myself more in the area of records that I collect and don’t necessarily put on the turntable is in wanting to own as complete a collection as possible and having the option of listening to more music someday, and recognizing that day may never come. For example, in the various collections I have purchased I probably have more than 100 Duke Ellington records. I will probably never listen to them, but I want to keep them for posterity. Then there are records that I’ve listened to once and will keep just to be a completist: For example, some of the later Coltrane records. I know some of you love them, but I find it hard to imagine listening again to Live at the Village Vanguard Again. But I keep all of these records to preserve my own museum. Same with jazz books I’ve already read or even magazines that I’ve collected through the years. For me, I like the idea of having a museum, at least for now. It does put me in a place where I have way too much “stuff” and I will pity my son and daughter if they would ever have to get rid of it, but I am hoping to live long enough to pare it down all on my own when/if I ever retire from my real job.

So, while I definitely fall into the category of someone who collects to listen, I also recognize that things tend to be fluid for all of us. Just as KB says in the previous post: He mostly collects as an investment, but occasionally will put on a record just for the enjoyment.

Speaking of which, that copy of Hank Mobley, Blue Note 1568 from the Jazz Record Center wound up selling for $4,539. I had guessed $5,650, so I was way off. Is it possible that GST was once again the winner of this contest? I am quite impressed with your prognostication skills, at least for this particular record.

The Miles Davis Kind of Blue record from the same post wound up not selling for a start price of $600, so I was wrong about that one as well. Perhaps, as someone suggested, there were just too many question marks about the condition to support such a high price tag.




  • Banksofthecreeks

    Welcome back — sounds like you had a nice break. As someone else who has “too much ‘stuff'” but who is now retired, I wish you good luck on paring down your stuff. Now that I am retired I find that I have added to my collection rather than getting rid of it. There is just so much great music out there that I don’t have, and I have too much fun looking for and occasionally finding the good stuff.

  • I envisioned the vinyl side of my retirement centering around a picture window, a MN lake in front of it, speakers on each side, and vinyl spinning on the turntable nearby, likely some ‘Trane. Now, I understand the vinyl side of my retirement being a trip to NY, dusting off Al’s Impulse releases, and listening to heaven while I stare at the side of a brick alley. I think those first edition sounds will make me okay with either.

  • Gregory the Fish

    i listen to my records often, but preservation of a piece of musical history that has brought me joy is an ever-present and important thought to me as well.

  • I’m not usually one to begrudge anyone their way of doing something they enjoy, but I will admit that the “I’m just buying them to make money” aspect of buying vinyl doesn’t sit well with me at all. Loving them and not playing them is one thing (not my bag but that’s fine), but just grabbing to make some dough doesn’t feel like love to me. Plus it’s the reason I don’t find things in shops half the time, someone else has grabbed it to make a buck. Gets frustrating when that drives up the price because there’s 5 middlemen involved before I get it. Just my 2 cents.

  • Maybe it’s the crisp fall air starting to creep in, or the poverty brought about by spending too much on summer getaways that keeps me off ebay… But lately, I too find myself have even started pulling out some of the old favorites, especially those original first pressings I’ve managed to have signed over the years from behind their glass sarcophagus’ homes prominently displayed here on my office wall… The shear joy and excitement of taking out a fragile museum or investment piece again and putting it on the turntable to actually enjoy is almost euphoric and instantly brings back the excitement of yesteryears big scores ! …Then when the LP has played its last note, reality comes crashing down, along with a brief moment of panic as I whisk the LP back into its sleeve, and return it to the safety and security of its home behind 1/8″ of UV Rated glass !

    “Guilty pleasure” foot note this past weekend: Mint condition, original first pressing signed copy of Sonny Rollin’s Night at the Village Vanguard (Blue Note 1581) played on the turntable for the first time since it was signed by Sonny and put it behind glass… I think his fingerprints are still on the cover !!! The LP never sounded so good I swear…

  • Just like to encourage

    Just like to encourage you to dig out those 100 Ellington’s . Some fine music exists amongst the mountain of recordings he made. Once you get past the “greatest hits” and crowd pleasing stuff
    you can find some fine ,ageless music . Money Jungle , Such sweet thunder , Piano in the foreground and New Orleans suite just for starters .I took time to explore Ellington many years back and it was well worth while and the stuff I found still gets a spin .

  • sorry , my name did not appear on previous comment

  • enjoy the records, we are here for a moment, make the most of it!

  • Records deserves to be played. They are beautiful and they need to be played. I think it seriously defeats the whole purpose of collecting records if you don’t play them. Let a museum keep them untouched for the preservation aspect, but as a music lover… they cannot just sit there on a shelf. It’s the same with having too many records which you can’t possibly find the time to play, they just sit there on a shelf… I’m just saying, for me, records put on a shelf to collect dust, for fear of wear, is a type of collecting that seems to be without the soul, for fear of losing money on your investment… invest in something that wasn’t meant to be played like fine art or company stock. Leave the records to people who love to spin them, like they were made to do… you can sit and look at the records and enjoy that excitement that you own that 1st pressing… but for the love of god, play them from time to time… it’s almost comical to me, the notion to own records and don’t play them… if you don’t play them, and it’s not about the investment, the fear of losing money if you play them, then you can buy copies with jackets in great shape and with VG vinyls, cause you only look at them, right? You don’t play them so the quality of the vinyl playback isn’t important, or? But I think it’s about the money for the most part, when you don’t play the records… I just think that’s sad…

  • When I was young, I used to go down the cape with family and then later, with friends. My family shared a summer rental of a cottage on a side street just up from what became the Kennedy Compound. The Kennedy’s took over the public beach and made it their own. Typical! On one visit to Provincetown when I was in my twenties, I photographed two friends standing in front of a club that offered live jazz. Is there any live jazz left in Provincetown?

  • Nothing wrong with just collecting just to collect. No need to play them. If you have the collector’s ‘disease’, collecting is its own reward. There are many other perfectly good ways to hear this music.

    If collecting was limited to the records that we actually have time to play, prices would certainly fall. Whether that is good or not depends on one’s particular situation. Personally, I’m nearly done with purchasing, so I would rather see prices stay high.

  • I have collectors disease, but I look at as being an audio archivist. I add only music I’m interested in and will play. I cop to having unopened vinyl, which is just “Vinyl waiting for the right moment”. Buying as an investment is not my primary motive. However, should I be somewhere and see a mint copy of “X” in the $2 bin or at an estate sale and I buy a Mosaic box set for $3.00, then it is not an investment, but it adds the overall value of my collection and makes me happy. I too have over 100 Ellington records and I listen to them, all the time. One day, I won’t have the extra green to buy vinyl, so I’m on a bit of a binge right now. Price and condition are important, but not as important as what is in the grooves.

  • Humanity have always been collectors and I get that BUT if you look at people that collect automobiles and never drive them, collect wine and never drink them etc etc etc…..AND collect records and never play them you start to have the overwhelming sensation of the absolute absurdity of humanity. On the other hand at least with paintings you can look at them and with records you can listen to them if we choose to. To collect “something” and not actually enjoy that said item is not collecting but simply being a pack rat, no matter how much money you spend. Obviously everybody is going to have a different definition of “enjoyment” but I buy records to listen to them, simple as that.

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