Still More Adventures in Jazz Collecting, Part 5

Have I ever mentioned that The Lovely Mrs. JC is a psychotherapist by profession? You’d think after 35 years of marriage to a shrink I’d have been somewhat cured of my vinyl obsession by now. Anyway, The Lovely Mrs. JC returned home from her practice that Monday evening and we sat down to have a quiet dinner and chat. We had many things to talk about and the record collection wasn’t foremost on her mind and, in fact, I had made such little light of the prospects for this collection that it seemed to have slipped her mind completely. So I had to bring it up.

“You know I saw that record collection today,” I said, quite casually.

“Oh, yeah,” she said. “Anything of interest?”

“Yes, it was pretty interesting,” I said.

We sat in silence for a few seconds.

“There’s a chance I may be buying it,” I finally said.

She stared at me in stunned disbelief.

“How many?”

I smiled a sheepish smile and held up three fingers.

Her eyes popped out of her head. “Three hundred records! How can you buy three hundred more records!”

I shook my head no. I said it wasn’t three hundred. She smiled a smile of instant relief.

“Three records. That’s fine.”

I shook my head no again.

Her face turned an ashen white. She pushed the words out softly, as if they were pure evil and should have never been voiced aloud by any human being. “Three thousand records.” It was barely a whisper. The words just sat there between us. Her face went from white to green. She looked physically ill. She couldn’t swallow and her breathing tightened markedly. “You’re not serious, are you?”

Now I should explain something, lest you reach the mistaken conclusion that The Lovely Mrs. JC is anything but a wonderful and supportive spouse. About a year ago we decided to sell our home in Great Neck and downsize and get rid of many, many things that were deemed unessential. The Lovely Mrs. JC rid herself of hundreds of books and some artwork that she had treasured and I vowed to shrink my record collection, not only through the now mythical Great Jazz Vinyl Countdown, but through selling records on eBay and even donating records to charity. Last year, in fact, I sold 500 records at a garage sale for $1 apiece and donated 1,500 more to the ARChive of Contemporary Music. This was huge progress in the interest of matrimonial compromise and bliss.

However, since then I had done nothing to downsize and, in fact, had purchased two more collections and had custom cabinets built in our Berkshires home to accommodate several thousand records. In fact, I had recently designed new cabinets with my builder that were to be installed the following week, allowing me to get records out of storage and have space for yet another full roomful of records on the order of at least 2,500 or so.

As the color of her face went from white to green to white again and then starting recapturing its normal pinkish hue, The Lovely Mrs. JC asked me what I intended to do with these 3,000 records. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that it was really about 50 or so records that I cherished, that I wasn’t even sure what was in the entire collection. But I had thought about what to do with the records and it was a strange conclusion I had drawn that was completely unexpected to me. I wanted to keep the collection intact for a while, to just have it and pore through it and play with it and play the records, without thought to whether or how or when to sell the duplicates. For some odd reason I felt respectful to the owner of the records, whom I had probably never even met, and wanted to honor him in some way by keeping his collection alive. I have a feeling it had something to do with my own father, who passed away about 15 years ago: Knowing how much my dad treasured his records and how much it meant to him to build up his own collection and how each record he purchased meant something special to him. It seemed kind of odd, but for some reason felt natural. It was what I would have wanted for my own dad, I guess. In any case, The Lovely Mrs. JC was suddenly sympathetic to the situation.

“You know those record shelves you are building in the country,” she said. “If you buy the collection, you could put the records there.”

Brilliant. Hadn’t even thought of it myself.

So the potential obstacle of The Lovely Mrs. JC was now overcome and her support was in hand. And now I knew what I would be doing with the records if I were to purchase them. Next I just needed to get the OK from the owners of the records. Which turned out to be not as easy as it may have seemed.

Stay tuned for Part 6



  • I want a woman like that, where did you get her? Do they still make the Mrs JC model? I need an upgrade!!!
    I have to decant records from shop bags or brown postal packaging prior to crossing the front gate, or the Jazz vinyl Gestapo, Mrs Adamski, will verbally thrash me to within an inch of my life.

    Part 6 please…..

  • I just sent my wife all 5 adventures. In large part, because it makes my modest collection of 1,250+ look downright tame compared to yours.

  • Great stuff!
    Reminds me of that nice essay from a year ago or so in THE NEW YORKER on inheriting the father-in-law’s book collection. I believe the essayist was the critic James Wood.

    He writes on the emotional immensity and nothingness of splitting up an intact collection….

    Too bad experts deem those non-first-pressing Impulses as non-collectors’ items. I’ve been in the $30 dollar range for nice late model Coltranes and Shepps. They are so attractive. And the music…! If they are only for listeners, rather than collectors, then I wonder why prices keep creeping up.

  • Good news is that with all the advertising sales and click-thru traffic volume the site generates, the cost of the 3,000 records is just a drop in the bucket 😉

  • DaveS — Jazz Collector is a labor of love, alas.

  • Reading your story I am looking at my own collecttion.More than 15000 records,most of them original,collected over a period of 50 years..My wife(italian) has no problem with my obsessive hobby,but she is not interested in jazz,same story with my children.What comes to my mind is that the same thing will happen to my collection when the day comes………

  • Kees de Kat
    I’ll have, just donate on and i’ll give them babies the love the deserve!!

  • a friend of mine, over 80 years old, had one of the most complete collections of Chinese postage stamps in the world. He was an authority himself and knew and had traded with all the dealers in this specialist market, of which the centre is Hong Kong. Now to protect his wife from having to liquidate this particular collection by herself after his death, he sold his own collection and could make the best of it, knowledgeable as he was on the subject. I think he took a wise decision.

  • Collector: “I am collecting jazz records, that’s what keeps me alive!”
    Psychotherapist: “Well, yeah.” Meanwhile writing down: Obsessive compulsive spectrum, possibly hoarding disorder.

    Great story!

  • That is not what this therapist would think

  • Wow, a comment from the one and only Lovely Mrs. JC. I’m impressed, Katharsis, you inspired her.

  • I guess this post prooves (at least it let’s us think) that the lovely Mrs. JC is alive and no brain-child or Super-Ego thing of Al 😉
    And the statement gives proof, that you, Mrs. JC are a good therapist!

  • “the lovely Mrs. JC is alive and no brain-child or Super-Ego thing of Al”-Huh? Katharsis,now that you’ve put the image of a jazzy version of “Psycho” in my am I supposed to sleep tonight?

  • Katharsis, you are indeed of great faith. Can you really be sure that wasn’t me or an associate posing as TLMJC?

  • Well, Al – I didn’t want to get to that point too early. And your last comment prooves me right to some point, eh?

    ceedee: I hope you could find some sleep? And maybe you have had some great dreams as well?

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