Posted by: David Harley | June 14, 2020

The Carpenter’s Son

Words by A.E. Housman, from ‘A Shropshire Lad’. Music copyright David Harley – All rights reserved.

This is just a one-take version with vocal and guitar, as I do it live.

Backup:

 

Here’s an unaccompanied version from the 1980s. Recording quality isn’t great, but the vocal is better.

Backup:

 

‘Carpentry’ is an instrumental version of ‘The Carpenter’s Son’. The song was originally intended to be sung unaccompanied, but it somehow developed a guitar accompaniment with a slight Middle Eastern/North African/desert lute feel, and the first section of the instrumental is very much based on that.

The faster second section was meant to sound more medieval, and includes  overdubbed dulcimer and bouzouki. Cittern would have been more appropriate, perhaps, but I didn’t have one to hand. :) Strangely, it seems to have finished up sounding a bit like the Philip Glass Ensemble (but with much less time between pattern changes), but I like it.

Backup copy:

 

And here are the words, since we may as well have the whole thing in the same place…

`Here the hangman stops his cart:
Now the best of friends must part.
Fare you well, for ill fare I:
Live, lads, and I will die.

`Oh, at home had I but stayed
‘Prenticed to my father’s trade,
Had I stuck to plane and adze,
I had not been lost, my lads.

`Then I might have built perhaps
Gallows-trees for other chaps,
Never dangled on my own,
Had I left but ill alone.

`Now, you see, they hang me high,
And the people passing by
Stop to shake their fists and curse;
So ’tis come from ill to worse.

`Here hang I, and right and left
Two poor fellows hang for theft:
All the same’s the luck we prove,
Though the midmost hangs for love.

`Comrades all, that stand and gaze,
Walk henceforth in other ways;
See my neck and save your own:
Comrades all, leave ill alone.

`Make some day a decent end,
Shrewder fellows than your friend.
Fare you well, for ill fare I:
Live, lads, and I will die.’

David Harley


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