pinder

Somewhere in my early adolescence, I took it upon myself to organize my family’s collection of LPs, a sort of menagerie of two-dimensional caged birds. There were some I was quite familiar with – the Ormandy/Philadephia recording of Scheherezade, for example, and The Beatles’ red and blue albums – and others I had not really gotten to know. 

One of the latter had cover art that clearly expressed a spiritual awakening: a skull on one side, an embryo on the other, a seated man in the middle, his soul rising to exaltation at the top, and some very painterly rendition of text. It was in album presentation, and when you opened it the first thing you saw was a yantra – a visual pattern for use in meditation – with an explanation above it of mantras and yantras, and below it a poem about the word om. On the facing page was text: a listing of the tracks and the band members; text at the bottom, four paragraphs beginning “It’s as dark as a tomb!, shadows appear from nowhere, great long arms reach upward into the gloom, and sinister coiled shapes lurk in every corner—even the walls seem to hold their breath”; and at the top, there was a more legible version of the cover text: “THE MOODY BLUES IN SEARCH OF THE LOST CHORD.”

I put it in the “Religious music” section.

My father, on seeing it there, told me that it was misfiled, and should be in the “Rock” section. It was, he explained, an album my (much older) cousin had given him. He didn’t seem to think much of it; he never played it.

Obviously, I took my next chance to listen to it.

It made an impression.

Here, hear this:

“And you can fly… high as a kite, if you want to. Faster than light, if you want to. Speeding through the universe… Thinking is the best way to travel!”

Imagine. Uncage your thoughts. Or let them be free even as they are impounded in your mind. If your mind is a whole universe, and it has a big bang event at its beginning, then, if its outer boundaries are fixed at your skull, everything within gets farther apart by getting smaller and smaller. It gains as much room to move as it needs just by making the room bigger relative to itself. Free your mind? It is free within. Unbind, escape the bounds; let your mind be more than a mound; when you seek to find, you have already found.

On the back of the album were pictures of the band members: John Lodge. Mike Pinder. Justin Hayward. Ray Thomas. Graeme Edge. All quite normal English names, really. Except Pinder, the name of their keyboardist, one of the group’s co-founders. I had never seen the name Pinder before, and I’m not sure I’ve seen it on anyone since.

But pinder, like lodge and edge, is an English word – like hayward too, but about as uncommon in modern use. 

I’ll bet you don’t know what a pinder is.

It’s someone who pinds stray animals. Which means puts them in a pound. Pind is just another version of pound, under the influence of ablaut. It’s pronounced like “pinned,” and pinder rhymes with tinderPind has been part of the English word-hoard for as long as there has been an English, and pinder has been around nearly as long. 

Someone in the distant past of Mike Pinder’s patrilineage found stray animals and impounded them for a living.

Mike Pinder collected stray sounds and freed them (perhaps he still does; he just turned 80). He coaxed amazing sounds out of his Mellotron. He was responsible for the incredible stereo effects in “The Best Way to Travel” (you did listen to it, right? if you’re still listening, pause reading and let it play a bit). He left the band by the late 1970s – escaped the gilded cage to spend time with his family (I was told this by someone I met who had worked with them, and Wikipedia thinks so too).

He collected ideas and words and freed them, too, by penning them – penning them up in a recording studio, and thence on a record. Within the confines of their spiralling line, and in your mind, they create their own space. Pinder, co-founder and finder, pinds the sounds in his pound, and we travel without moving. 

He wrote only a smaller portion of the Moody Blues’ songs, and his voice can be heard on just a few tracks each album, but he wrote and sang “the Best Way to Travel.” And he wrote the last track on In Search of the Lost Chord, the song that connects to the yantra you see when you open the album, the song that begins with the poem below it (written by Graeme Edge) about om, which he read. This one:

I don’t think I was altogether wrong in my original filing decision.

The album isn’t still there, though.

It’s sitting on the table next to my computer as I write this. It still has my dad’s address label from the early 1970s on the upper left corner of the back. It… strayed from the collection. I collected it, and have pinded it with my other LPs on my own shelf.

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