Posted by: David Harley | September 17, 2019

Diverse Brew sessions (80s recording)

These have been available elsewhere for a while, but these are lightly remastered versions. Three songs recorded in the 1980s for an album by myself, Don MacLeod, Bob Theil, Bob Cairns and Pat Orchard. Unfortunately, the album was never released because of a contractual issue (nothing to do with me!). I believe the master tape is somewhere in Antwerp, but all I had to work from for remastering was a cassette mix, so the recording quality is erratic. All tracks engineered at Hallmark, London, by Steve Hall.

  1. One Step Away (From The Blues) by David Harley
  • Vocal, acoustic guitar, electric slide guitar – David Harley
  • 2nd acoustic guitar – Don MacLeod
  • Acoustic 12-string guitar – Bob Theil


He never wanted her love, just a piece of her time
A loving night now and then, and no loving lies
Just a tender glance from distant eyes
But he learned too late to recognize
That he was far, far away – he’d missed the alarm
Drowning far, far away in other arms
He hadn’t noticed her changing till daylight broke him the news
Far, far away, one step away from the blues

He never wanted to stray far away from himself
He never thought he’d rely on anyone else
For a light in the window, a knock on the door
Somewhere to keep warm when the nights turned cold
But she was far, far away when the blizzard set in
The door stood silent and locked, and he was soaked to the skin
He hadn’t noticed her changing till she left him with nothing to lose
Far, far away, one step away from the blues

He only wanted to give a small part of himself
But she took his heart then found someone else
She never thought he’d give her more than a thought or two
When she packed a few bags and cut herself loose
And went far, far away in search of herself
Never thinking to leave her new address
Neither of them knew he was changing
Till he woke up with nothing to lose
Far, far away
Far, far away
Far, far away
One step away from the blues…


2. True Confessions (David Harley and Don MacLeod)

  • Vocals, acoustic lead and electric lead guitars – David Harley
  • Acoustic guitar, piano – Don MacLeod
  • Percussion – Richard Davy
  • Additional vocals – Anna (Lin) Thompson


You don’t have to talk, you know it’s really not a case
Of finding words for filling in our time and space
I’ll still be here tomorrow, if that’s what you want too
Who else could take me where we’ve been?
No-one else but you

The day was a river of darkness
Till you brightened up the night
And that’s the best of good reasons
To come close and turn down the light

There’s a lot to say, a lot I guess we should discuss
But surely later would be soon enough
I’ll still be here tomorrow, if that’s what you want too
Who else could take me where we’ve been?
No-one else but you

It’s not the time for true confessions
Lying here still aglow
With all your warmth and softness
God knows there’s nowhere else I’d want to go

We could talk of time and changes, good trips and bad
And just for once time is on our side
But now’s the time for loving and resting so close
And yesterday is dreams and nursery rhymes
I’ll still be here tomorrow, if that’s what you want too
Who else could take me where we’ve been?
No-one else but you
Who else could take me where we’ve been?
No-one else but you


3. Heatwave (David Harley)

This one proved impossible to remaster adequately, which is a pity in that it’s probably the best of these songs, though there’s one verse I’ve rewritten since that recording.

  • Vocal, acoustic and electric guitars, banjo – David Harley
  • Piano – James Bolam (no, not the actor)


There’s a heatwave in the city and the day drags on forever
The tarmac burns through patent leather
Clear through to the sole
Ice tumbles through glass as the temperature soars
And the dayshift leaves the nightshift to take over for a while

The city sings at midnight to the well-fed and the civilized
While waiters mop their faces in the kitchen, out of sight
Small change pours in torrents over counters in the bistros
And the moon hangs red and sullen in the dustbowl of the sky

The city is on heat, bare-legged girls in summer dresses
Dodge the lechery of workmen laying cable through the day
But the night turns on the body to sweet pornography
Passions feed on darkness and the body mutes the mind

The city squeals at midnight in its pain and ecstasy
The life-force surges through the veins and soaks the sheets
The couples claw and couple and feed upon each other
And still the hunger rages through the streets

I saw a refugee from Galway with a faceful of stubble
Singing sentimental songs in the underground today
He’s going back to Mother Ireland and the Mountains of Mourne
And he only needs a bob or two to help him on his way

The city whimpers at midnight in its apathy and squalor
From a bench on the Embankment, from a derry in Barnes
From a squat in Deptford, from the winos and the junkies
From the homeless and the helpless, the hopeless and the lost

A refugee from Calvary is preaching anarchy and anger
Through his multi-megawatt PA
And when the concert’s over he packs his guitars and prophecies
And goes back to his hotel to drink the night into the day

But out there in the streets the word is out all over
The heat are out for action in New Cross and Ladbroke Grove
The temperature is dropping but the tempers are at flashpoint
And no-one lingers on street corners if they’re walking home alone

The city screams at midnight in the agony of anger
The rocksteady revolution pays its homage to its dead
Where dreadlocks meet deadlock the shock tears up the flagstones
And on their righteous anger the riot squads are fed

The Klan charts fiery crosses cloistered in an upstairs room
The architects of reaction spin their bitter webs
Black and white scrawl their frustrations in blood across the charge sheets
And no-one dares explain the chaos in their heads

The city burns at midnight and the blood runs down the sewers
In the ghettoes and the side-streets where the patriots have been
Squad cars and an ambulance cut through the aftermath
And tomorrow’s front pages unfurl to set the scene

David Harley

Posted by: David Harley | August 27, 2019

Down To The River [demo]

Recorded on domestic equipment in the 1980s, so not commercial quality. But not a bad version vocally. Perhaps the lyric could be tightened up a bit, if I ever go for a commercial version.

Words & Music copyright David Harley: all rights reserved.

Posted by: David Harley | August 4, 2019

Freeze Frame [initial demo]

Finally finished(-ish) the tune. Now I just have to learn it/sing it properly.

Words and music by David Harley, copyright 1986

It’s a bitter-sweet light blue affair
Caught halfway between hope and despair
A tear for joy or a twisted smile
An elegant pose in the classic style
That echoes reality

It’s a strange ambiguity
Caught between life and parody
A stolen kiss, a moment of magic
Frozen between the comic and tragic
A haunting half-memory

What can we tell from these soft-focus nights
Of what might be real and exactly what’s right?
What can we learn from what we might see
On an under-developed transparency?
Only the questions are clear
Like “Where do we go from here?”

It’s a bittersweet light blue affair
A flash of future, of time we could share
A tear for joy or a twisted smile
An elegant pose in the classic style
Transcending reality
That can be what you want it to be

David Harley

Posted by: David Harley | August 1, 2019

Low In The Water [demo]

This is a somewhat misogynistic song I’ve never sung in public, perhaps in case someone assumed it was autobiographical. But since I was quite enjoying playing slide again…

Here’s a much older electric version, recorded on much cheaper equipment…

Early in the morning
Shaking in my shoes
Coming down with cherry fever
And the rotgut brown ale blues

I’m low in the water
I’m low in the water
I’m low in the water
But I ain’t sinking yet

Another Sunday morning
Another one night stand
One more passing shipwreck
Drowning on dry land

And I don’t know how I got here
But thank you for the ride
I’ll see you somewhere sometime
If I don’t have time to hide

Singing for your supper
Isn’t half the fun it seems
It’s a pint or five of courage
And a box of broken dreams

Posted by: David Harley | August 1, 2019

Oh Death [demo]

Not sure the world needs my version of this, but playing with an arrangement anyway, in case I ever take the resonator out in public again… Recorded by Charley Patton and Bertha Lee in 1934. There’s a better than halfway-decent version by Jo-Ann Kelly and Tony McPhee, too. There’s a John Renbourn song with the same name, by the way, but that’s very different.

David Harley

Posted by: David Harley | August 1, 2019

Weeping Willow (Corrina)

This is a song I learned from Michael Cooney many decades ago. He told me recently that he learned it partly from Guy Carawan and partly from Bess Lomax Hawes, but had changed it around a lot. As have I (not least by making a slide piece out of it). It’s the folk process, folks. I particularly like the last verse, which also occurs in Robert Brown’s ‘James Alley Blues’ and Judy Roderick’s ‘Born In The Country’, which is based on Brown’s song.

David Harley

Posted by: David Harley | August 1, 2019

Slide impro

I haven’t played slide anywhere for ages, but had a sudden rush of blood to the resonator.  While I’m in a blues-y mood, I might add a couple more slide-y things.

David Harley

Posted by: David Harley | July 31, 2019

Pick My Pocket [demo]

Pick My Pocket (Harley)

Got no fare / For a boat or plane

I got shoes to walk / But I’m here just the same

Buddy, you can pick my pocket / Got no greens to lose

Just a handful of empty / And a head full of blues


I keep looking for a highway / I can make it down alone

With every hobo, sewer rat / And rolling stone

Buddy, you can pick my pocket / Got no greens to lose

Just a handful of empty / And a head full of blues


I’ve got a new way of spelling / Ecstasy

E is for Exit / And the rest is blowing free

Buddy, you can pick my pocket / Got no greens to lose

Just a handful of empty / And a head full of blues

Just a hat full of empty  / And a guitar full of blues

(c) David Harley 1972

Posted by: David Harley | July 1, 2019

Before I fall [early demo]


later demo:

Before I fall (Harley) Copyright 1982

I know I can be clumsy / I’m hamfisted as they come
I’m blessed with two left feet / And my fingers are all thumbs
But I can tie my own bootlaces / I can use a knife and fork
I get there in my own time / And if I can’t run I’ll walk

I don’t need a nanny or a minder and if I can’t cope, I’ll call
But please don’t pick me up (x3) before I fall

I know I tend to stammer / And my tongue gets tied in knots
I get confused and nervous / Tripping over my own thoughts
But I’ll make up my own mind / If I’m wrong I’ll take the blame
And I can finish my own sentences / Thank you all the same

I don’t need an interpreter and if I ever do, I’ll call
Only please don’t pick me up (x3) Before I fall

I’m defensive and I’m obstinate / When things I say and do
Turn out upside down and in reverse / I may get mad at you
As well as me, but I’m sorry / And I hope you understand
I appreciate your putting up / With me the way I am

I’m trying to do better, for you, most of all
Only please don’t pick me up (x3) before I fall


Posted by: David Harley | June 30, 2019

true confessions

rough sketch with high-strung guitar instead of normal acoustic

and same for One Step Away

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