A MUSICAL MYSTERY
One morning in the fall of 1967, I woke up with a strange song going round and round in my head. I immediately took out a guitar and began searching for the harmonies, all the while trying to keep the lyrics in my head. The melody was unusual and the harmonies were tricky, but I worked them out. After about a half-hour of picking, I was able to play the song, so I began to transcribe its lyrics. I did all right through the first verse, but when I came to the chorus, all I could remember was "something stone." I didn't dare waste time on the one word, so I wrote out the rest of the lyrics, confident I would remember the missing tag when I had time to think about it.
I lived in a tiny basement apartment on Commonwealth Avenue in Brighton, Massachusetts, and Karl Garrett and Mikey Joe Valente, the lead guitarist and bass player from Travis Pike's Tea Party, lived in an apartment on the top floor. I don't remember if I called them or went up to their place, but soon I was playing them the haunting new tune. But even after a first cup of coffee, I couldn't remember the tag and no matter how many times I said "something-stone," "nothing-stone" was all I was getting. I think it was Mikey Joe who finally came up with "Cherrystone." Well, it didn't make any sense, but it was better than "something-stone," so we went with it. Karl had already begun working out some lovely lead lines that fit the mood of the piece and Mikey Joe was working out a simple bass line. It sounded pretty good, all accoustic except for the bass, and by the time the George Brocks and Phil Vitale arrived for rehearsal, we thought we were on to something.
I don't think we played it in public more than three times, and it only went over well once, at the Unicorn Coffee House in downtown Boston. There, during a break, one of the customers came up to me to ask me about it. He really liked it, but he didn't understand it. What was this "cherrystone" business, anyway? The only cherrystone he ever heard of was a clam. That couldn't be right, could it? He was hoping it was a new secret drug, or perhaps a new code word for a drug he knew. It was embarrassing, and after that, we never played the song again. Ode to a clam just wasn't cool enough for Travis Pike's Tea Party.
My wife, Judy, kept copies of all my song lyrics, their chord changes, and in this case, its nonsensical title. One day, long after the band disbanded, she was going through the lyrics, asking me to play this song or that for her, and came to "Cherrystone." As I played it for her, enjoying the haunting melody and lyrics, I suddenly remembered the long lost title. I imagined the sun rising like a candle flame over an upright stone in a prehistoric megalithic shrine and knew the word was "Morningstone." It was exciting to finally fill in the missing link, but I had no idea it would become what it has.
Where "Morningstone" came from and how it got into my head remains a mystery. Maybe I did just "dream it up."
Travis Edward Pike
28 January 2019, Otherworld Cottage