Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Autographed Records

I’ve never been motivated by autographs. Whenever I meet famous people it rarely occurs to me to ask them to autograph something. Not everyone feels this way. Over the years I’ve seen that there are people who ONLY care about getting autographs. The art is secondary, or actually irrelevant to the getting of the signature. Thus, in the course of buying millions of records I have come across a lot of autographs. I’ve kept a few over the years. Here’s some of the best.

The ultimate autograph story;
When Jill and I first got together I had an enormous record collection, and she had a sweet little collection of stuff she had mostly bought in the 60’s. I had many of the same records, so early in Twist and Shout’s history I sold her records in the store. She didn’t care, but I really regretted doing it, because they were a tangible part of her early life. At the time however, I felt they were essentially worthless because she hadn’t taken care of them, and she had written her maiden name on each of the covers. I now seek out exactly that type evidentiary artifact that illuminates an individual’s past. It is one of the most important and touching parts of this whole collecting thing. I could also go into the entire cyclical nature of records coming in to stores repeatedly. The same records surface over and over, and the only way we know this is people tend to personalize the possessions that mean the most to them. Fast forward 30 years. We have purchased a large collection of records from a young man who is selling his recently deceased father’s effects. His father, it seems, was one of those autograph guys. Hundreds of his records are autographed, but this guy took it to another level. For instance, if he found out say, Dave Mason was playing in town, he would find every record Dave Mason ever played on and get it signed. Thus, there were records by all kinds of other artists with Dave Mason’s signature on it. Funny. Anyway, as I’m getting to the end of the collection I look down and there is my wife’s maiden name staring back at me from the cover of a Donovan record. I recognize her handwriting immediately. Just below it is a beautiful Donovan autograph. Like a deck of cards flipped out into space the pieces of history suddenly formed a pattern. This guy’s father had bought the Donovan record from me (probably) years ago, gotten it autographed by Donovan, died, and now Jill’s record, which she bought (possibly at the first Tower Records in her home town of Sacramento, Ca.) in 1966 was back in my hands in 2018, enhanced by an autograph. Now there’s a great record store story!

- Paul Epstein

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