While digging in the field all these years, I’ve come across an overabundance of different vinyl, etched with names like “Sullivan”, or “Ruth”, and the like. While my first instinct was to think that people were just marking their territory, ie vinyl, I got to thinking. Where were these people now? Did they just give up on vinyl all together, or had they passed on and their precious vinyl collections been relocated due to other circumstances? Was their most personal form of musical expression put back into the world by a relative or loved one because they didn’t understand, or didn’t have the space or time to tend to it? How did these records go from the original buyer’s hands into mine? They may have changed hands dozens of times, or perhaps I’m just the second person to hold this highly coveted piece of vinyl. Well, what happens to your records when you die?
Lately, I have been digging hard at my local record store, who over the past year started a 45 section. At first, there wasn’t much turnover, and I was digging through the same Atlantic commons weekly, having cleaned out all I wanted on the first few digs. However, a fellow digger of mine contacted me and said I had to get over there. He said six words: “They have Blue Note Mike’s records.” Now I didn’t know Blue Note Mike, but I had heard about his extensive collection, a profusion of funk, soul, jazz, and other oddities. These records would be made available for sale to the public. This fellow digger actually helped his widow get the records together and made sure they were sold at the right price. I’m sure his wife would have sold them to him at lesser value, but people, there are still good guys out there, and this digger made sure the recently departed’s records were taken care of properly. These records are now being put out piece meal weekly, for all record champions to enjoy. This quandary, in our opinion, was taken care of properly. The wife made the right amount of money, no doubt overwhelmed by the shelves of thousands of records and not a clue at their value. The record buying public gets a crack at pristine vinyl that may or may not turn up in a shop or in the field. Win/ Win, It’s not always the case though, as one of my best record friends, another Mike, had his collection ravaged by selfish, money hungry hustlers who preyed on his family even before the coffin was closed. We all knew Old Man Mike had a house full of records. He had been selling vinyl for decades over at The Spot, and when he died, the vultures circled. The man wasn’t rich, and neither was his family. When his entire remaining record stock was swindled out of him, to me that was a way not to do it. Some of you may say, hey finders keepers, it was a boon for the buyers. I don’t agree, and I think that getting records through shady means will get some bad karma down the line. I know we’ve spoken of this before, but there is a certain smelly record dealer who is known to get records like BDP, by all means necessary: Allegedly, grabbing vinyl from a certain famous Jazz player’s residence while the person who lived there dozed off on his death bed. Highway robbery, shameless, and no class if that is the case. These are just a few examples of what we see as both malevolent and positive ways for records to move along after someone leaves this earth. What happens to your records when you go is in your own hands.
I’ve always considered doing it the John Peel way. Not index cards, but a database of every piece of vinyl I own including the price. Although I am not too keen on caring how much a record is worth, only in the case of selling it (or my wife or mates helping in selling it if I am gone), I think a record of your vinyl would help stop the vultures from circling on your precious rares your family has no idea about. Or, as in the case with Blue Note Mike, have a close friend help facilitate the sale of your vinyl to make everyone happy. Vinyl records are only worth what someone will pay, it’s a supply and demand game. So if you’re holding a coveted want, it’s our belief your legacy should be able to not get swindled out of all of those years of your hard work. We’re curious at what you, the FleaMarket Funk readers think about this, and what you’re doing in preparation for something like this to happen. Records mean so much to all of us, it’s a shame to just lose a lifetime’s worth of exploring, excavating, and digging just because we didn’t prepare. Worse off, it’s an outrage that there are still people willing to just rip off a grieving widow/ widower/ family member because they see dollar signs. We’ve all worked too hard to build up our collections that tell the story of our life better than words could ever say, and if we’re not careful, it goes away in the snap of your fingers. Remember, you can’t take them with you, so you need to do something.