Wednesday, June 26, 2013

No. 344 – Mystery

Performer: Blind Horse
Songwriters: Unknown
Original Release: As far as I know, this song never has been released officially.
Year: XX
Definitive Version: None

On the one hand, this has to be the most obscure song that’s on this here list. Besides the fact that it never has been released officially, it’s only been in the past year that I even learned the name of the band that plays it—I think.

Blind Horse probably isn’t the only rock band that doesn’t have its own Wikipedia page, but it has to be among the few. I’m constantly amazed by how much information is on there when it comes to rock music in general. Word is they were a very short-lived Seattle spinoff of Pearl Jam precursor Mother Love Bone.

On the other hand, any Pearl Jam aficianado knows this song and probably knows it well—maybe even well enough to provide a more definitive history than I was able to cull online. I would bet if you polled the general public at large, you would find more people know this song than a couple others on my list.

The reason for that is the reason why I know this song in the first place. Shortly after I joined The Dispatch while I worked Saturdays, I hiked to Vets Memorial at lunchtime to attend a record convention. It was mostly CDs, and bootlegs at that, and in 1994, guess which band had more bootlegs than any other two? Hint: It wasn’t Moby Grape.

Amid row after row of Pearl Jam bootleg CDs, I found one called The Five Musketeers. The CD was exactly what I was looking for—a collection of songs that Pearl Jam had released as B sides on various singles but not on either Ten or Vs., such as Wash and Dirty Frank.

There were about 10 “new” Pearl Jam songs on there, and because that wasn’t enough to fill a whole CD, the bootlegger added Eddie Vedder’s performance with The Doors at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony in 1993 that sounded as though it had been recorded from an adjacent bathroom.

Two other songs were on there—one a version of Hold Your Head Up by Argent that apparently had been recorded by Mother Love Bone. The other song was this one.

Mystery, spelled Mistery on the CD, was listed as a Pearl Jam song, and it certainly has a Pearl Jam flavor. It’s grungy and a bit spacey, not unlike Breath, say, but the voice resembled EV only in passing. Maybe it was a bad day or an early recording or something.

I tried looking it up in the resources of the time, and nothing was listed. I think I read that it was Pearl Jam playing but Shawn Smith, the lead singer of Stone Gossard’s side project, Brad, on vocals. That seemed to make sense, and the bootlegger, whoever it was and not knowing any better, just grabbed it up and threw it onto this CD.

For years, this was the only song in my iTunes library that didn’t have an artist name typed in—living up to its name. When it was time to look up the background for this song for this here blog, I found enough shards of information to affix the Blind Horse name to it.

If you look, you’ll find this song on many lyric sites listed as a Pearl Jam song. The only thing I’m certain about is that that’s incorrect. I’m not ready to say “Case closed” on this song, but it does appear that one mystery is mostly solv-ed. Many more continue.

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