I’ve never sniped anything on eBay, ever. Sniping — for the eBay uninitiated — is the process of making weird bids at the last moment after being more or less silent for the duration of an auction, which more or less amounts to cutting in line at the last second. It’s not pleasant when it happens to you, and you lose an auction by a buck or fifty cents. I mean seriously, who wouldn’t pay just a dollar more for something that they were already going to pay $250 for?
Anyhow, I sniped my first auction on eBay successfully, thus ending a six year saga over one Miss Norah Jones. I have finally acquired the impossibly elusive EP First Sessions, at a price that is NOT $250 (or $251). And, NEW and sealed. I think this, combined with two of my other collectible acquisitions, may bump me from the rank-and-file “enthusiast” moniker to “collector.”
I remember vividly the page for purchase over at norahjones.com that had both CDs available at $12 a piece but both for $20 back in 2002. She was relatively unknown at the time of her debut, but I had been eagerly awaiting the release after having heard some of the First Session tracks thanks to the Glory Days of the Internet. I remember mulling over the grueling decision of a college student to spend twenty bucks (!) just to save four. Several times I made it to the cart without submitting the order, just to close the window, thinking, “I can always get these CDs.”
Strangely, even at this time, finding Miss Norah tucked away in the Jazz “J” section of the record store was still no easy feat. I stumbled upon what I later came to believe was a first issue of Come Away With Me, with a plain silver disc with her name scripted in black (a later release of the same album stateside had blue scripting for her name, I think), buried in some obscure rack at my local Circuit City, a lone copy marked at a mere $8.99. It looked like it had been sitting among the Joneses for years, constantly thumbed through but unpurchased. I looked around to see if other people were nearby, searching like hawks at dinner for the same CD that I wasn’t expecting to be found in a department store CD bin. I immediately grabbed it, having saved $1-3 plus shipping from the website, eager to get back and purchase First Sessions, feeling great after experiencing this moment of serendipity.
And of course, just as I had the resolve and the cash to feel confident in my purchase, I discovered that the limited 5,000 “pressings” had been sold out for good, with no reissue in sight.
Just weeks later, Come Away With Me would be a painful, constant reminder of my indecision to pounce on First Sessions, as the debut album was plastered in every boutique and music shop imaginable, with a $12.99 sticker often glaring at me as retailers cashed in on the cash cow from the Blue Note marketing machine.
Dejected, I searched eBay periodically for months afterward, and as her position rose in the Billboard music charts, so too did the price for this disc in any sort of condition on eBay. The price peaked as she garnered eight Grammy music awards for her debut full-length, hitting a price of at least twenty times its original cost. As the eBay supply dwindled with demand still in full force, I almost swallowed my pride and my pocketbook on several occasions in order to acquire the disc. However my better judgment (and empty wallet) always prevailed.
But now, years later, I still struggle over twenty dollar purchases, though they have become admittedly a bit more routine, as strangely happens in adulthood. And yet I knew that if the opportunity ever arose again, I should probably do my best to seize it, and that’s exactly how I came to be in the company of the elusive EP by Miss Norah.
Now there’s one more funny little twist to this story. It turns out that the purveyor of this little gem I’ve been watching with some interest ever since his eBay debut not three months ago. He had zero feedback and a funny username and was offering this disc in what smelled of a potential scam. My suspicion grew as an incredibly rare and even more impossibly offered item was thrown up on eBay. However that transaction looks to have been completed successfully as well. If he was a more reputable seller, I might have jumped on that myself, as that was truly a one-of-a-kind item.
Regardless, subsequent weeks of keeping his auctions in the fringe of my mind’s eye yielded several more copies of this disc in surprisingly good condition, and finally it dawned on me that he is somehow connected to the production of these albums. In fact, it turns out that he was at least the writer of one of the songs on Norah’s debut hit, and they have played in the same band together previously. That’s plenty of information for the sleuths to track down this mystery seller, I think, and for his anonymity’s sake on the ol’ ‘Bay, I think I should not divulge more.
And thus endeth my journey for the search for this particular disc, with happiest of endings, though certainly many years and dollars later. If I’ve learned anything, it’s that sometimes these sorts of things are quite transient in nature, and though I love the chase, the rewarding music is oh so sweet as well.