Posted by: David Harley | June 6, 2020

‘Silk & Steel’ – video for Collective Aid in Penzance

Here’s the link to a video I recorded for Global Jamming St. Ives in support of Collective Aid, in Cornwall.

Here’s a link to their Just Giving page, if you care to contribute: they’re raising funds for a new van to help their operations in Northern France, supporting displaced people in Calais, Dunkirk and the Balkans.

Words and Music (c) David Harley

Here’s an MP3 recorded at Centre Sound, London, in the 1980s.

And here are the lyrics.

Rapid-fire repartee, quicksilver conversation
Tongues that stroked and struck, caressed and clashed.
I remember all too well the arching of your eyebrows
When you pruned my self-importance when you saw that I’d been rash
And left my lines over-extended, and my flanks undefended:
Tactically, I never could compete with you.
But you always held back from the coup de grâce
So finally you met your Waterloo.

In the long years since I left you, I could never quite forget
Through all those other beds and battlefields.
It’s been so long since we crossed blades, and I forget the finer shades
Of the skirmishes where we laid steel to steel.
But the silk of your caress, and your blazing red-haired temper
Left a scar that never really did quite heal.
Like your after-midnight tenderness: somehow across the years
I never quite pull free of silk and steel
And I never quite cut free of silk and steel.

Silk and Steel is actually a type of guitar string with silk wound round steel. The song isn’t about guitar strings…

(Why would you use strings like that? Because they’re a bit easier on the fingers, though the tension is quite different to what you find on nylon strings, so the tone isn’t any more ‘classical’. In my experience, they didn’t last very well, so I didn’t use them for long.}

David Harley: vocal, acoustic guitar.

Posted by: David Harley | May 29, 2020

A Rainy Day Blues (revisited)

Words and Music (c) David Harley

A cleaner recording than the previous audio version.

And here’s a video, this time played on electric guitar.

This is an older version with just basic guitar:

This is the same version with some overdubbed bouzouki: an instrument I’d only recently added to my arsenal, so not very well executed, but I think it might go quite well with a bit of work. Maybe different lead instruments for each break…

And here’s a more recent version, slightly rearranged.

David Harley

Posted by: David Harley | May 24, 2020

Highway fever 2020 demo

Those easy-action formulae lie easy in my mouth
Down streets I walked for ever while my head was blowing South
That same old highway fever keeps burning up my socks
The river keeps on running, I’ve been too long on the rocks

All along the waterfront the chance is lost and found
I’m halfway back to nowhere but my head is outward bound
I’m on the run, my head is free, my cover has been blown
And still I hate to sing these backstage blues alone

Out beyond the fences windswept trees lay down to die
But I’m staring into limbo as the 19.10 rolls by
And I’m weary to my bones of scavenging for dreams
I’d give my second-best guitar for an unread magazine

I’m weary to my soul and home is far away
Racing into sunrise and another Northern day
I wish I’d half a chance of another drink or two
This train moves too fast, and it’s bringing me to you

Older version that segues into the blues standard ‘Vestapol’

And experimenting with a different arrangement:

David Harley
Posted by: David Harley | May 15, 2020

Blues I Blew

Actually a very rough demo, but there you go. Now I’ve remembered it exists, I’ll do some work on it.

Backstory: drinking with a friend in Manchester in the early 70s while both our girlfriends were out of town, making some musical plans. Seemed like a good idea at the time, but shortly afterwards he and his girlfriend got married and moved (to Wales, I think): I moved somewhere else and married someone else entirely.

Why that story got into a song when so little of my back-catalogue is strictly autobiographical, I can’t say. It seems long ago and far away. Oh. Actually, it was long ago and far away (from Cornwall, at any rate).

 

Remixed/remastered:

 

Backup copy:

 

Blues I blew: Words and Music copyright 1975 David Harley

There we were, my buddy and me
Two grass widowers out on a spree
Between the bar and the BBC
And nowhere much to go

Plans to make a wave or two
Adding up to two plus two
No complaints of nothing to do
With another 12-bar to blow

Another place, another day
Nothing very much to say
Another song I threw away
Another blues I blew

Posted by: David Harley | May 15, 2020

Empty Sunday [remastered]

Words & music by David Harley

A very old recording (from cassette, not a studio recording). Remastering has raised the volume level, but degraded the guitar slightly. One of my bluesier songs. I ought to re-record it, but it’s harder than you might think on the fingers!

Remastered version:

Backup copy:

 

Empty Sunday
Raining down on me
Empty Sunday
Raining down on me
You’re gonna drive me back
To the arms of my used-to-be

Empty Sunday
Sure can’t feel no pain
Empty Sunday
Sure can’t feel no pain
Just those blues pouring down
Like those 19 showers of rain

Empty Sunday
What d’ya come here for?
Empty Sunday
What d’ya come here for?
There’s no-one but the rain
Tapping at my door

David Harley

Posted by: David Harley | May 14, 2020

Cornish Ghosts

Words & music (c) David Harley.

A song which has been nagging at me for several years.

Backup version:

Close to where I stand on Trecobben
Pilgrims walk St. Michael’s Way
Few today reach Santiago
Most will cease their journey at the Bay
The Mount is rising from the distant water
Yet barely seems an arm’s length away

Causley on the road to Marazion
Dreamed of one last summer in the Med
Sheets are dancing Morris in the wind
A buzzard slowly circles overhead
Engine houses march along the skyline
A sea fret daubs the coast in brown and red

Beyond the darkening horizons
Beyond the hills to the West
Beyond Pendeen and Cape Cornwall
The Longships founder off Lands End
Sea nymphs and mermaids pluck the heartstrings
But the bells no longer ring in Lyonesse

Around me march the ghosts of long-dead armies
Recalled among these ancient stones
The engine house beyond the farm
Still offers shelter to the crows
I watch the sun sink slowly to the West
Back into the sea from whence it rose

Notes:

Trecobben is an alternative name for Trencrom Hill and the giant who is supposed to have lived there and passed the time by throwing stones at his counterpart Cormoran on St. Michael’s Mount, which can clearly be seen from the top of the hill (weather permitting).

The St. Michael’s Way is part of the network of pilgrim’s paths that converge on the pilgrim route that leads to St. James Cathedral in Santiago de Compostela. It’s believed that pilgrims and missionaries from Wales and Ireland would land at Lelant and walk overland to Marazion rather than risk sailing/rowing around Lands End.

The second verse refers to Charles Causley’s ‘The Seasons In North Cornwall’ where he talks of meeting ‘Old Summer’ on the road to Marazion.

Living around Trencrom, we’ve had lots of time to observe that the horizon is often obscured by low-lying red-brown cloud, especially when pollution levels are high.

The Longships are a series of islets a mile or so off Lands End, known for the lighthouse on Carn Bras. In Arthurian legend, the kingdom of Lyonesse was said to have bordered Cornwall but to have sunk beneath the waves between Lands End and the Scillies. Walter de la Mere’s ‘Sunk Lyonesse’ refers to Nereids playing lyres in “sea-cold Lyonesse”, while the Mermaid of Zennor has her own place in Penwith mythology.

There is a plaque on the Iron Age fort at the top of Trencrom that reads:

“This property was presented to the National Trust by Lt Col C L Tyringham, of Trevethoe in March 1946 & at his wish is to be regarded as a memorial to the men and women of Cornwall, who gave their lives in the service of their country during the two world wars. 1914 – 1918, 1939 – 1945”

There are a good many engine houses in the area, but the one beyond Trencrom Farm is the one variously known as Wheal Alice and Wheal Foxes, part of the former Trencrom Mine.

David Harley

Posted by: David Harley | May 14, 2020

bootup blues 2019

Remastered:

Remastered:

 

Posted by: David Harley | May 14, 2020

last musketeer

The Last Musketeer: words and music by David Harley

remastered

Another take

Posted by: David Harley | May 14, 2020

Faintly Fahey/Fainter Fahey remastered

Faintly Fahey: the version translated from slide to a modal tuning.

Fainter Fahey (confusingly, this is the original version)

David Harley

Posted by: David Harley | February 28, 2020

Ten Percent Blues [2020 demo]

Recorded in the 80s using slide guitar: this version, though, has no slide. Dropped D tuning.

 

Backup copy

 

Slide version:

10% blues 2 – studio-recorded slide guitar version from the 1980s.

 

Ten Percent Blues (David Harley)

Got a seat facing the engine
So I don’t have to face where I’ve been
Luggage on the rack, no reason to look back
At all my wrecked and reckless gypsy dreams
No more bright lights, no more white lines
Or crashing in the back of the van
No more hustling small-time gigs
I guess time has beaten the band

No more deadlines, no more breadlines
Mr 10%, you’re on your own
No more fine print, no more backstage  blues
This rolling stone is rolling home

Got a ticket to take me to tomorrow
It can’t be worse than today
So driver, take me home and don’t spare the horsepower
I’m on a ten year holiday
No more missed chances and chickens*t advances
Cold chips in the back of the van
No more blown tires and fuses, no more broken promises
Time has beaten the band

No more deadlines, no more breadlines
Mr 10%, you’re on your own
No more fine print, no more backstage  blues
This rolling stone is rolling home

No more spotlights, no more ups and downers
Absolutely no stage fright
No more superstar fantasies
From today I’m strictly 9-5
No more infighting, no more moonlighting
No more one-night stands
All along while the band was beating time
I guess time was beating the band

No more deadlines, no more breadlines
Mr 10%, you’re on your own
No more fine print, no more backstage  blues
This rolling stone is rolling home

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