Posted by: David Harley | October 31, 2021

‘Further Off The Record’ album

Not my most recent album, but you might call this my Greatest Hits album, if I’d ever had any hits. It does include the four tracks released so far as singles, though, and most of the tracks are remixed and/or remastered. In fact, these are all songs that have attracted airplay in the UK and/or US, been requested at live events, or had significant numbers of plays where streamed or available in various video and audio formats. And anyway, I like ’em! Available from Apple Music, Spotify, iTunes etc.  

See also Strictly Off The Record, on Bandcamp, with an extra track!

Read More…

Posted by: David Harley | November 10, 2022

Introduction to Nashville Tuning book

There’s now an expanded version of an article that used to be on this blog available as an eBook or paperback on Amazon. (I might reinstate the article at some point but it will require some editing, and certainly won’t contain anything like all the material the book does.)

This is a short textbook on an alternative technique for stringing and tuning a guitar to get a very bright, treble-y sound that can be used to create some very unusual effects. It may at least interest some of the people who’ve asked me questions about Nashville stringing/tuning when I’ve used it in performance. It includes information on more-or-less related tunings, and the factors that need to be taken into account when considering setting up an electric or acoustic Nashville-strung guitar. It also includes links to a number of sample sound files illustrating the technique and ways in which it can be used to emulate other instruments.

It’s the first part of a book series called Strings Attached, though it’s more background than anything. The other books will be about albums, songs, and the history behind them.

The book is called Introduction to Nashville Tuning for Guitar, and it’s available as:

  • A reflowable eBook for Kindle, so you can do things like resize the font on a suitable device if it makes it easier to read. It includes links to audio clips.
  • A print replica book – that means you can’t change things like font size, but as well as links, there are embedded audio clips so it can be read even when there’s no Internet connection.
  • A fairly slim paperback version, since Amazon likes it if I do a paperback too… No embedded clips, I’m afraid. ;) But the links are still there!

The previous book, The Vanes of Shrewsbury, featuring drawings of Shrewsbury buildings by my uncle, Eddie Parker, is also available on my Amazon page, as an eBook or as a paperback.  There are even links to some of the security books I’ve written or edited or contributed to.

David Harley

Posted by: David Harley | October 29, 2022

Twm Siôn Cati

A song about ‘the Welsh Robin Hood’ – a story I originally found and borrowed from George Borrow’s Wild Wales. Three traditional tunes for the price of one, but on the whole I think I like the Sheepstealer version best. There’s much more information about Twm (and the song) in my next book, Tears Of Morning.

(backup)

(Sheepstealer tune)


(backup)

[Limerick Rake tune]


(backup)

A man of resource and a thief of ill-fame
Tregaron my home, Twm Siôn Cati my name
Your horses and cattle are all of my game
But rich and respected I’ll die, just the same
Respected I’ll die just the same

In an ironmonger’s shop in Llandovery fair
A fancy I took to a porridge pot there
“Oh”, said the man
“Here are three of the best”
And one I admired above all of the rest
That one above all of the rest

But before I ventured to lay money down
I examined the pot above and around
“Oh no, my good man, this won’t do for me:
There’s a hole in this pot as you plainly may see.”
“There’s a hole in the pot, as you see.”

He peeked in the pot, said “Your pardon I crave,
But no hole can I find, as I hope to be saved.”
I said “Put in your head, and you’ll see it quite plain…”
So he put in his head and tried once again:
He put in his head once again.

But the man had such brains, his head hardly would fit
So I rammed the pot down, meaning but to assist:
The while that he struggled to free himself there
I tiptoed away with the other pair.
I tiptoed away with the pair.

But as I departed, my pots in my hand,
Some advice I gave, as I left him to stand:
“Indeed, there’s a hole, for if there were not,
However could you put your head in the pot?
How could you put your head in the pot?

I’ve considered three ways of setting this to music. The Limerick Rake and the Derry-down-derry tune  both work with minimal adaptation, and I have recorded a version of each here (you’re welcome). At the moment, though, I rather like the idea of using a variation on the tune associated with I Am a Brisk Lad (Roud 1667), also known as The Sheepstealer (hence the repeated last line, which is a new addition). It’s a tune closely related to the version of The Holy Well used on the Tears of Morning album as the instrumental introduction to Song of Chivalry.

Posted by: David Harley | October 29, 2022

The Vanes of Shrewsbury – book

For some months, now, I’ve been working on a book that takes my album ‘Tears Of Morning’ as its starting point. Tears Of Morning is a collection of songs and settings (plus a couple of instrumentals) that have a sometimes tenuous connection with Shropshire. The book will include most of the music and all the lyrics, but with a shedload of additional historical, literary and anecdotal material. It will also include some songs and verse that didn’t make it to the album.

That’s still in progress, and should be available fairly soon, in fact. However, I got (pleasantly) sidetracked.

Originally, I planned to include some drawings by my late uncle, Eddie Parker, who, although he spent his retirement years in Australia, still had a keen interest in Shropshire history and architecture. The drawings were to be published with appropriate commentary and, where possible, contemporary-ish photographs of the same buildings. However, it soon became obvious that I had way too much material to be shoehorned into an appendix, and it deserved a book of its own.

That book is the small but perfectly-formed (I wish!) The Vanes Of Shrewsbury (a title taken from A.E. Housman (A Shropshire Lad XXVIII ‘The Welsh Marches’).

High the vanes of Shrewsbury gleam
Islanded in Severn stream

 While the drawings all show buildings in Shrewsbury, the subject matter extends much further: for example, to the collapse of Old St. Chad’s in the 18th Century, the legend of the Dun Cow, how the Dana walkway is connected to the book Two Years Before The Mast as well as my time working with the security firm ESET, Sir John Falstaff and the Battle of Shrewsbury, and the evolution of the Fire Service. It also includes a preview of the book I’m working on now!

It’s available from Amazon in three versions in order of ascending cost:

Cover illustration of 'The Vanes Of Shrewsbury'

Cover illustration of ‘The Vanes Of Shrewsbury’

Posted by: David Harley | September 23, 2022

The Prestwich Treasure

 

 

Found, I think, in the book Lancashire Legends, Traditions, Pageants, Sports, &c, a book by John Harland, and Thomas Turner Wilkinson published in 1873. The tune is based on a traditional tune associated with the song The Wars In Germany, though it occurs to me that the tune to Derwentwater’s Farewell would also fit. Much more information in the forthcoming Tears Of Morning book.

“What news, Sir Thomas Prestwich? What battles lost and won?”
“Mama, the King is sorely pressed, his armies overrun.”
“Give him all you have, my son, his armies to maintain;
And God confound the Parliament that brought him to such shame.”

“Mama, the King is sorely pressed, but I dare not stake my wealth,
For I fear the cause is already lost, and we must think of ourselves.”
“Give him all you have, my son, for wealth I have for thee,
Guarded well by charms and spells, my voice the only key.”

“Mama, the King is dead, the Prince fled overseas,
And with him flown my fortune, prosperity and ease.”
But Lady Prestwich said no word, and no sign could she make,
Nor ever did until she died, the enchantment for to break.

“Cruel was the sickness robbed my mother of her speech
And me of my inheritance, forever out of reach.
Cruel was the Protector, who robbed me of my lands,
The price set for their recovery £330.”

“I’ll maybe find an astrologer, some sorcerer I’ll find
To break the spell and find the wealth my mother put aside.”
Many tried, and many failed: Sir Thomas sought in vain
For that treasure never found unto this very day.

“A curse upon my mother, it’s ill she counselled me:
The treasure that she promised me, it seems I’ll never see.
My lands are sold to pay my debts, my fortune is no more:
I’ll bid farewell to thee, Hulme Hall, that I will see no more.”

David Harley

Posted by: David Harley | September 20, 2022

Jack in the Box (again)

…again with added music. (I suddenly noticed that it fitted another traditional tune perfectly!)

 

Backup:

 

Down in the workhouse when I was a lad
No tongue can relate all the pleasures we had
Dry bread, and Bastille soup by the bowl
And a flogging or two for the good of our souls x2

A tale I recall of those happy times
And an orphan lad always to mischief inclined
He was ever in line for a kick, at the best
And the poor workhouse master could scarcely find rest

Till came the day one of the other lads died
“Aha!” says the master, “I’ll settle your pride!”
He shut up the lad in the dead-house to stay
Alone with the coffin until the next day

But what should Jack do but open the box
He takes out the corpse, and with it swaps clothes
Props it up on the rail at the top of the stairs
Then he hops in the box and the winding-sheet wears

And when it grew dark, the master came up
With a plate for Jack, some victuals to sup
Holds it out to the corpse on the rail
Who says not a word, but stands stiff, cold and pale

“Well, take it!” the master says in surprise
“I should think you’d be starving by now, damn your eyes!”
Then up leaps Jack, who was lying so still
And says “If he wunna eat it, I will!”

When the master heard this he got such a fright
He let go of the plate, and turned whiter than white
Gave a terrible shriek, such a fright did he get
Fell back down the stairs and near broke his neck

Wasn’t that a sad fall for a man such as he
So kind to his charges, with his boot so free?
So pity the poor who must live on the Roll
And think on the guardians and pray for their souls

A half-written song of mine based on a story of Knighton workhouse from ‘An idler on the Shropshire borders’, by Ida Gandy. Told to her by Ellen Hughes (nee Jordan) 1864-1940 also known as Granny Hughes. Many thanks to her great-granddaughter Denise Lewis of the Memories of Shropshire FB group for the information and photograph. I wrote the words back in the 70s, I think, but thought I’d better put a tune to it since it features in a book I’m writing.

In the previous post, the tune used was one associated with many songs, often sea-songs, with a ‘down-derry-down’ chorus.

For this version, I’ve switched to the tune called The Limerick Rake, also used by Tom Paxton for The High Sheriff of Hazard and by Ewan MacColl for Champion at Keeping Them Rolling. I expect there are a good few others too: it’s a good tune.

(c) David Harley

Posted by: David Harley | September 4, 2022

Jack in the Box revisited

…now with added music. (I suddenly noticed that it fitted a traditional tune perfectly!)

It also fits the subject matter of a book I’m working on: more on that in due course…

local backup:

Down in the workhouse when I was a lad
No tongue can relate all the pleasures we had
Dry bread, and Bastille soup by the bowl
And a flogging or two for the good of our souls x2

A tale I recall of those happy times
And an orphan lad always to mischief inclined
He was ever in line for a kick, at the best
And the poor workhouse master could scarcely find rest

Till came the day one of the other lads died
“Aha!” says the master, “I’ll settle your pride!”
He shut up the lad in the dead-house to stay
Alone with the coffin until the next day

But what should Jack do but open the box
He takes out the corpse, and with it swaps clothes
Props it up on the rail at the top of the stairs
Then he hops in the box and the winding-sheet wears

And when it grew dark, the master came up
With a plate for Jack, some victuals to sup
Holds it out to the corpse on the rail
Who says not a word, but stands stiff, cold and pale

“Well, take it!” the master says in surprise
“I should think you’d be starving by now, damn your eyes!”
Then up leaps Jack, who was lying so still
And says “If he wunna eat it, I will!”

When the master heard this he got such a fright
He let go of the plate, and turned whiter than white
Gave a terrible shriek, such a fright did he get
Fell back down the stairs and near broke his neck

Wasn’t that a sad fall for a man such as he
So kind to his charges, with his boot so free?
So pity the poor who must live on the Roll
And think on the guardians and pray for their souls

A half-written song of mine based on a story of Knighton workhouse from ‘An idler on the Shropshire borders’, by Ida Gandy. Told to her by Ellen Hughes (nee Jordan) 1864-1940 also known as Granny Hughes. Many thanks to her great-granddaughter Denise Lewis of the Memories of Shropshire FB group for the information and photograph.

The tune is the well-known ‘Down-derry-down’ tune used for  various nautical songs including ‘The Dreadnought’/’Flash Packet’/’Liverpool Packet’/’Flash Frigate’… Though I guess it’s more naughty than nautical.

I don’t have much information about Knighton workhouse but some workhouses had their own burial grounds.

(c) David Harley

Posted by: David Harley | July 23, 2022

The Gospel according to St. Lubricius

Bored with the infighting in the leadership contest for the Party of Whateverness? Desperate for the next General Erection? 

Here, just for you, is a Party Political Broadcast.

We’re coming, we’re coming for you,
But don’t pay us any mind:
Just watch the wall, my darlings,
While we take you from behind.

David Harley

Posted by: David Harley | July 20, 2022

The Goose and The Commons

This is based on an 18th century lyric protesting against the Inclosure Acts, usually called ‘The Goose And The Common’ or ‘They hang the man and flog the woman’. I put a tune to a version of that lyric some time ago, and it’s on my ‘Cold Iron‘ album. While the privatization of common and/or waste land is more or less a done deal, the underlying topic of those who govern doing so for their own benefit rather than that of the people still has a very contemporary resonance. The lyric below makes that link more explicit: I don’t know that the world needs it, but somehow it demanded to be written… I don’t know that I’ll perform it as a song, though, as I’m already performing the older version.

The law demands that we atone
When we sell things we do not own
Yet lets MPs and Lords so fine
To sell off what is yours and mine

The poor and stateless don’t escape
When they conspire the law to break
This must be so, but we all endure
Those who conspire to make the law

You and I do not escape the web
Of laws that profit from us, the plebs
But MPs and their cronies too
Use or ignore them as it suits

The law forbids both man and woman
To protest corruption in the Commons
And so we all will Justice lack
Till we can vote to take it back…

David Harley

Posted by: David Harley | July 17, 2022

Support gig in St Ives

I’ve been a little depressed at having to cancel a few dates this year because of ill health (including a Lafrowda fundraiser and the Weston-super-Mare Sea Shanty ad Folk Music Festival, unfortunately – shanties are not very Harley, but the event would have been fun). However, I’m very pleased to have been invited to support the rather excellent Green Diesel at the St Ives (Cornwall) Arts Club on August 9th. (And as it’s quite near to where I live, it shouldn’t be a problem healthwise this time.)  Tickets (only £3!) from Eventbrite.
David Harley
Posted by: David Harley | July 15, 2022

Hosanna in Extremis

Something a little different from me on the Poetry Archive YouTube channel. Yes, it’s a poetry video.  Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately) YouTube has done its favourite trick of keeping the volume as low as it can get away with, and I think I rushed it a bit. However, I suspect it will be on the forthcoming poetry and music project in some form.

Fortunately, there are plenty of videos on that channel worth listening to and not requiring tweaking of the volume control.

Meanwhile, here’s the poem.

Born in freefall, oppressed by gravity;
Cutting the harness and falling free
In the last days of the human race,
The last few metres of the Fall from Grace.
The gods look down and cannot change a thing:
No miracles, no more psalms to sing.
The rich men take the seats that they reserved;
The rest fight for a place on Dead Man’s Curve.
Somehow the human race is hanging on,
But humanity’s already dead and gone.

There’ll be no singing in the lifeboats,
Unless it’s in the Captain’s praise.
The countdown started long ago,
The last days of the human race,
But the chaos we’re creating cannot wipe
The smirk from the rich man’s face.

This is your last call:
The countdown to freefall.
The coming gale will shake the earth’s foundations,
And most of us will perish in the flood,
The poor and unseaworthy lie abandoned,
Buried somewhere deep within the mud.
Survival of the fattest; trickle-up economics;
Fact and fiction, fear and faith, despair and desire;
Politics and science, bigotry, morality:
We’re choking on the smoking and you can’t see the fire
.
Cold turkey voting still for Christmas
Season of myths and moral fruitlessness –
Break those habits, not the habitat,
Or you’ll take the whole world with you when you choke on the excess.
This is the very last last chance:
Let’s face down the muzak and dance.

David Harley

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