You can keep the furniture, a bump on the head, crawling down the chimney, release me.
The story goes that Thom Yorke completely forgot how to play Morning Bell at some point between Kid A and Amnesiac. Then one night he had a dream about the song and suddenly could play it again. I haven’t bothered to verify this story, and I am going to simply trust my memory. I know there are many songs I’ve forgotten how to play but none bothers me more than the elusive CS1. Back in the days of Pinstripe Mystery I wrote a great many songs specifically for the band. Some of those songs I can still play, like NOTLD and The Sunrises, but a few like Elf Ears and CS1 are lost, maybe forever. The reason I am so obsessed with the cleverly named Crystal Song 1 is that it was such a unique little song. It was the first piece I had ever written for a female singer, and it had such a neat vibe. At least I remember thinking that, since I can’t recall any part of the song.
Artists and writers generally put things down on paper, canvass or etc. as they are creating, so there is a living record. For musicians its not always possible to record every idea or musical moment, so inevitably some are lost to history. Now CS1 was written down, likely in several places. Those records have also been lost to time, some with the death of my last laptop, and others into the recycling bin over the intervening years. I’ve watched videotape of old rehersals and shows. I’ve dug through piles of papers with disparate musical ideas. All of it for nothing. CS1 will likely never live again. It’s musical existence ended far too quickly.
To make up for this self-indulgent story here is Thom Yorke live From the Basement with Down is the New Up.
As far as I can remember that was the only tune Pinstripe Mystery tried to cover. We were awesome in practice, but when we did it live it flopped. This is the final post of this musical retrospective. I will continue to post other things, but this is the end of one more journey. I mentioned last time that the band worked feverishly to finish up the album. This was greatly hindered by Jill’s reluctance to actually record proper drum parts, and led to some weird tracks, like The Tin Star. Overall the album was decent, not great. I’m still happy we did it, and promoted it. The title came from a question: can you make a muffin parfait? We talked about weird things at practice. I will never forget hearing my songs on the radio for the first time, or how we charted at UW’s radio station two weeks in a row before slipping into deeper obscurity. I have chosen three tracks to post here today: Imperial Street because it was the most beloved track for most people, Art Or Architecture because it is as much a classic as I have, and Clap Dream Injuction because it’s my favourite song on the album. After Muffin Parfait came out we played a lot of gigs, appeared on the radio a few times, and tried our best to be a band that was out there. In the end though things fizzled out. Our last real gig was at the University of Guelph for about a dozen students in a field. Our best gig took place at the Grad House at the University of Waterloo. We packed a room for a gig that featured David Hein and another band whose name escapes me. David is still making music as far as I know so I suggest googling him. This show actually featured a brief experiment with a violin player named Emily. She added a nice extra touch to a bunch of our songs, even if it was only for one gig.
Pinstripe Mystery was the most successful band I’ve ever been in, which wasn’t a hard thing to be. For awhile, some people knew who we were and what we were doing. We even warranted a haiku in a Waterloo music zine. I have it somewhere but I’m not sure where. Looking back the experience of playing fairly regular gigs and promoting an album was fantastic. I could’ve done without some of the headaches and battles but overall it was a positive experience. It certainly worked out for Dave and Crystal.
After Pinstripe Mystery I put music away for a bit aside from writing the odd song (most of which are on The Lights I See You In Shadow). Some people have the benefit of leaving music alone for a long time and maintaining a legacy. I don’t have a legacy so the music will stay with me. To say that The Lights I See You In Shadow is the best thing I’ve ever done with music would be an understatement. It would also be misleading. The best thing I’ve done with music is make lifelong friends like Matt, Dave, Dave, Crystal, and Ken. People whose ideas and sounds inspired me to make better songs. The Lights I See You In Shadow will not be my final album, in fact I anticipate starting the next project immediately. It represents a transition, from a past of grasping for musical success in the form of good recordings of songs I love to a future where I can do that everyday. Please enjoy my songs and recognize that what goes into them is part of me. Sometimes it’s the part no one gets to see in my regular life.
Enjoy these songs and I hope you come back tomorrow.
The University of Waterloo on the recommendation of the Senate hereby signifies that Peter Michael Snow has fulfilled the degree requirements for the degree of Bachelor of Arts.
My Undergraduate Degree
Before I get into today’s post I want to point out that you can now download the completed album here.
The final year of my undergrad was kind of a musical canyon. I don’t recall writing very many interesting songs that year, nor did I create any kind of CD. I did, however, put on a show near the end of the winter term at the Conrad Grebel chapel. It featured Dave Fallis, Matt, and myself all playing solo sets for about 20 or so people. It was a lot of fun and the venue was amazing. I believe I filmed this performance, but that tape has been lost to time.
The summer of 2005 marked the beginning of Pinstripe Mystery. It began with an ad on a music classified board that led me to our drummer, Jill Whitehead. After we had jammed a few times we decided to bring more people on board. I met Crystal Kemkes through a mutual friend and she came down to play with us. We now had, guitar, keys, drums, and vocals. We played our very first gig at the Festival of Peace and Tranquility. This time the venue was changed to Parkview Church, and over 100 people came to check out the music and enjoy free muffins. I am indebted to Ken Barr for his help with that event. As part of the show we gave away a free CD that included songs by us (then known as The Free Mirrors) and Dave Fallis. Also on the bill were Ken and Matt. I have included King of Spades with this post because it features the trio and I actually like the recording. Perhaps the most significant event connected to that concert was the addition of Dave Fallis to our lineup. Of course it was a cleverly designed plan to spend time with Crystal (they are now married) but it worked out for the band as well. With a bass player in tow we began practicing weekly and sketching out a plan for our future. The plan was to complete an album, find lots of gigs, get songs on college radio, and see where things went.
The fall of that year saw us come up with a new name, Pinstripe Mystery. We each wrote several words on pieces of paper and threw them in a hat. We then drew two out. As I recall Jill wrote Pinstripe and I wrote Mystery. A new name was born and we moved ahead with recording a CD.
We only played one gig during this period, a Christmas show at the Renaissance Cafe in Toronto. This was one of the most annoying performances we were ever involved in. We were told that Crystal and I could do an acoustic set around 7:30pm. So the band arrived in Toronto around 6, had dinner at a scary Pizza Pizza, and headed to the venue. Upon entering we were told that the order of performances was posted so we checked it out. We were scheduled for 12:30am. We now had to face several hours in this bar listening to 14 other acts go ahead of us. The quality of the acts varied heavily, but most of it was not music we were interested in. Add to this the fact that we were essentially playing for the other musicians there, and the sub-zero temperatures outside. It was a less than ideal night. The highlight was walking to Coffee Time, three blocks away, to get a giant muffin. Dave ordered “Nachos and Cheese” from the bar and paid something like $8 for $1 worth of nachos with cheese. We had booked the gig with Scotia Entertainment because I had played a successful gig the year before at the Boathouse in Kitchener. We did one more gig with them in Kitchener, which was only attended by our friends.
Over Christmas we held a marathon recording session to finish Muffin Parfait, and that (along with the second half of our career) will be the subject of tomorrow’s post.
The Alder Fork is a musical group and a creative project. This blog and it's companion podcast showcase music, art, photography, drama, and culture. The blog is updated daily and the podcast weekly. You can also find the podcast on iTunes by searching for The Alder Fork.