WATCHING SCENES WITH VINYL RECORDS or references to vinyl records in movies and television shows usually causes record collectors to laugh. The person responsible for placing the record in the scene almost always gets something about the record or the chronology wrong. Or makes an exaggerated claim about its value (“It’s worth five grand, easy”).
The camera will close in on the turntable (because it’s been cool for a while to make the protagonist hip enough to prefer records over compact discs) and we will see a Columbia LP spinning and then the needle is placed on the record and out of the speakers emerges the voices of a Decca artist.
“I don’t know why you don’t let me help you. I could sell some of my vinyl!”
Or we will see a Columbia LP on the turntable with a mid-’60s label except that the movie’s story is taking place in 1959. The only filmmaker who never seems to do these annoying things is Clint Eastwood, a devoted jazz lover and owner of thousands of LPs.
This even applies to movies or shows that revolve around music—you know, where getting things like artists and hits and labels and dates correct would seem to be imperative to the story. American Dreams is so accurate in depicting the lives of an Irish Catholic family in Pennsylvania in the early ’60s that episodes could be used in a classroom to help students get a sense of that era.
But records from 1966 (for example, Wilson Pickett’s Land Of A 1,000 Dances) are played in the background in the first season of American Dreams, which takes place in late 1963 and early ’64. In one scene that takes place in October 1963, the Kinks’ You Really Got Me is played almost a year prior to its release and declared a part of the “British Invasion” months prior to that term being coined!
Worth five grand, easy!
There aren’t too many references to actual collectible records in movies or shows, but it happens. The Showtime series Nurse Jackie had an uneven seventh and final season. But, goodness gracious great balls of fire, it had a collectible record scene and got it right! In the second episode (“Deal”), protagonist Jackie Peyton needs to come up with a sizeable chunk of cash to pay an attorney’s retainer.
Her co-worker turned friend turned lover turned partner-in-crime Eddie Walzer offers to help her in any way that he can. She is resistant as she has already taken so much from him.
“I don’t know why you don’t let me help you,” Eddie pleaded with her. “I could sell some of my vinyl. I got a Springsteen Spirit In The Night worth five grand, easy.”
“Whoa!” said I as I pressed Pause on the remote control and dashed to my room as fast as my Crocs allowed and jotted down a note to remember to turn this line into an article!
Spirit in the Night
Without turning this into a lengthy piece on Springsteen collectibles, commercial copies of Columbia 4-45864, Spirit In The Night / For You, from 1973 are rather rare records indeed. After shipping promotional copies of the record to radio stations and getting effectively no airplay, Columbia pressed up a minuscule batch of commercial copies (pictured above).
I don’t know why nor do I know where these records were distributed or if they ever left the factory in a sizeable amount. The commercial copies with red and orange labels are worth many times the promotional copies with white labels!
Season 7 of Nurse Jackie first aired in April 2015. At that time, the highest price paid for a commercial copy was $5,100 in 2008. That was for a copy that, extrapolating from the seller’s description, might have been graded VG. Based on that sale, Eddie’s claim that his copy was worth “five grand, easy” was accurate.
But the most recent sale prior to the filming of the final episodes of Nurse Jackie was in 2014 when a near mint copy sold for $3,000. Based on that sale, Eddie’s claim was exaggerated. But not exaggerated enough to ruin the scene for record collectors!
FEATURED IMAGE: The photo at the top of this page was cropped from this scene from episode 2 (“The Deal”) from the seventh season of the television series Nurse Jackie. It features Eddie Walzer (Paul Schulze) and Jackie Peyton (Edie Falco) contemplating the use of some non-prescribed prescription bills in a small bag.