It was the summer of 1995; I was 14. It was a quiet, sunny afternoon. At about 3:00, my father came home and walked into the living room all aflutter, carrying a cardboard box. He said he had just come from a tag sale near us. This was a common occurrence during the summer in New England where I grew up. Once a year, most people took stock of the stuff they had acquired over the year and, being dissatisfied with their stuff, their wallets, and themselves, decided they would sell it. This only happens for a single family about twice, but there were enough families where I grew up that a plethora of tag sales happened every summer.

My dad had just returned from one with a real find. He’s an intense music enthusiast. I get my passion for music (and all things) from him; combine that with my mother’s meticulous nature and my near-OCD preoccupation with music becomes clear. Anyway, he showed me what he had acquired at the tag sale he went to, which was a stack of used LPs. Such things, especially gotten at tag sales, are usually not very exciting, but as I looked through them, I could see that they were. A lot of them I had never heard of (Spirit, Electric Flag, Mountain), but others made me catch my breath. December’s Children; Abbey Road; Band of Gypsys; and what Dad said was the first Beatles album ever. In actuality it was Meet the Beatles!, which was the 2nd album to come out in the US, and the 5th overall. To be fair, it said right on the cover that it was “The First Album by England’s Phenomenal Pop Combo.” That just ain’t true.

But the real prize was Are You Experienced by Jimi Hendrix, the first album from the guitar deity. This may not seem more remarkable than the other great finds I just mentioned, but for this. The sticker on one side of the vinyl listed the songs on side A; flipping the vinyl over revealed a duplicate side A sticker. A simple factory mistake, but it makes the value of the copy shoot up incredibly. As amazing as this is, it’s shot down in flames by the next thing: the previous owner penciled in on one of the stickers “Hendrix Side B.” Any value the copy may have had is completely destroyed by a bit of lead powder. It makes me weep.

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