Posted by: David Harley | September 16, 2020

Scratch one lover revisited

Words & Music (c) David Harley

1980s studio version (2nd guitar is Don MacLeod)

Backup:

A couple of more recent versions here. 

How does it feel to be proved right
When everything just fell apart?
Does it buy you sleep through long cold nights?
Does it ease your aching heart?

Score two points, scratch one lover:
You said it’s too good to be true.
Why don’t you run back to your mother?
She always knows what’s best for you.

 

All those black moods and jealousies,
Now you know they were justified.
She looks so happy, holding hands with someone else:
Was it worth it, being right?

Hold on to all that righteous anger
But don’t forget who set it up for her.
If she’s easier in someone else’s arms,
She might be telling you you were unfair.

Score two points, scratch one lover:
Let it ride, it’s just the gypsy’s curse.
But people tend to give you what you ask for:
Maybe you only got what you deserved

Posted by: David Harley | September 16, 2020

Quartet for One

This does not get its name because I’m arrogant enough to believe that I’m the only person in the world capable of playing this as a guitar solo. (I can imagine John Renbourn choking on his ambrosia at this moment at the very thought.)

What actually happened is that I was watching ‘Quartet’ on the TV – a dangerous exercise, because it always makes me wish I had a more operatic voice (or even a bearable voice) – and when it finished, I needed a little more music, so I picked up a guitar. I liked the somewhat random thing I found myself playing so much that I wandered back into the office and switched on the recording gear, and was in the zone for at least five minutes.

It will require editing and further polishing (and possibly an overdub or two), but I think it has a lot of potential. I was playing my Baby Taylor in Nashville tuning.

Replacement version: a bit tighter, but it could still be (quite a lot) shorter.

backup:

David Harley

Posted by: David Harley | September 16, 2020

Sale or Return re-recorded

One that turned up again when I was rationalizing my cheat sheets. I haven’t sung this in public for years, even decades, but I think I probably should sing it more.

Words & music (c) David Harley

Backup:

You could say this song changed my life in a number of ways. (Not all of them good, but that’s a story for another time and place.) It marked a point where I started to think of myself as a songwriter rather than as a guitarist (or, any sort of singer). As did other people. Your mileage may vary. It was still a good while before I found myself writing for a living, and then it was quite a different kind of writing. But that’s also another story…

Mister can I carry your bags?
We took the same road and we both paid the fare
Buddy can I carry your axe?
We started out right and I know you still care
And hey, can I carry your load?
At least you still look like you’re bound somewhere

I’ve talked to the hero who knew he was hip
Who got too heavy to loosen his grip
Who sold out his name to some strange ego trip
And I know the glass eye looking into itself
The fly blown in amber trapping dust on the shelf
Conversations that tailed into stony silence

Mister can I carry your bags?
We took the same road and we both paid the fare
Buddy can I carry your axe?
We started out right and I know you still care
And hey, can I carry your load?
At least you still look like you’re bound somewhere

I’ve seen how it is twisted out of the frame
By the mythical muse that warps and maims
A half-human soul into implacable aims
And I’ve known a hero we all knew of old
Who sold out his share of the silver and gold
And still he can’t tune out the gall in his soul

Mister can I carry your bags?
We took the same road and we both paid the fare
Buddy can I try your axe?
We started out right and I know you still care
And hey, can I carry your load?
At least you still look like you’re bound somewhere

So it’s down to the Tranny and the travelling band
But somewhere we drew blank, something better we planned
Is gone with the smithy and the shantyman
So I sat and I drank and I listened to you
Then I drank some more while the beat soaked through
But I guess I just drank off my blue suede shoes

[break]

And I know how it is kicking themes into shape
In sleep-bleeding hours between two working days
And I’m not here to say you should make that mistake
No, there’s no point in crossing the bridges we burned
But a few bands ago we talked in no terms
Of sale or return

David Harley

 

Posted by: David Harley | September 16, 2020

Tears of Evening (Harley)

A short instrumental to be incorporated into ‘Tears of Morning’. All rights reserved.

Backup:

Posted by: David Harley | September 16, 2020

The Road to Frenchman’s Creek

Backup:

 

Demo version of a song that started to take shape while we were house-hunting in Kernow. Not that Show of Hands have anything to fear from me in terms of West-Country-oriented songs. But we were actually taking time out around Helford, and couldn’t resist walking over to Frenchman’s Creek. To be honest, though, it’s no more about that than it is about Ithaca.

Words and music copyright David Harley, 2015.

Read More…

Posted by: David Harley | September 15, 2020

Adventures in video – Vestapol

 

audio capture:

Backup:

Vestapol (even the name has variant spellings, almost as many as the tune) has a fascinating (if slightly confusing) history. Henry Worrall (1825-1902), an artist and musician who taught guitar at the Ohio Female College, composed a guitar piece apparently inspired by the siege of Sebastopol (1854-1855) and sometimes called ‘The Siege of Sebastopol’ or ‘Sebastopol: Descriptive Fantasie’, or – according to the printout of the sheet music I have in front of me – just ‘Sebastopol’.

Sadly, I can’t read music – well, maybe if it’s simple enough that I can play it on recorder, but that’s about as far as I can go, so I don’t know how close that piece is to the tune I’m interpreting in this video. Compared to this version, played by Macyn Taylor on parlour guitar, not very. That said, this version, played by Brian Baggett “interpreted from the original manuscript…in collaboration with the Kansas Historical Society” is just about close enough to suggest that mine does derive ultimately from the older piece. As does the resemblance of the naming of the later piece, and, even more, the fact that both pieces use the same open D (D-A-D-F#-A-D) tuning, often referred to by blues musicians as ‘Vestapol’ or ‘Vastapol’ (or similar) tuning.

It’s worth noting at this point that Worrall also published an arrangement of a popular piece called ‘Spanish Fandango’ – which, though it’s not without charm, to my ear resembles a ‘real’ fandango rather less than ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ resembles the work of Václav Tomášek – which uses an open G tuning (D-G-D-G-B-D). While I’m not aware that Worrall’s ‘Fandango’ has had anything like the same popularity or influence among blues/ragtime/folk musicians that ‘Sevastopol’ has, it’s notable that this open G tuning is often referred to as ‘fandango’ tuning. And certainly Elizabeth Cotton, who also played ‘Vestapol’, had a very similar tune called ‘Spanish Flang Dang’.

But – returning to ‘Vestapol’ – how did a formal piece apparently intended for the genteel parlours of the US get to my genteel home office/recording studio in the Wild West of Cornwall as a blues-y, train-y, ragtime-ish, clawhammer picking piece?

Stefan Grossman, who put together a three-part video to teach his own version, kind of skates over the issue as barely explainable, though a contributor to a thread on Mudcat points out perfectly reasonably that blacks and whites worked together and blacks worked as servants in the homes of white people: “They heard, they liked, they learned.” And adapted, making the work of other musicians into something of their own. So by the time John Fahey recorded the tune he still called ‘The Siege of Sevastopol’, it had developed into something significantly different Worrall’s tune, and acquired words – Robert Wilkins’s ‘Poor Boy (a long way from home) and ‘Prodigal Son’, later kidnapped by the Rolling Stones.

In fact, I sometimes follow Grossman’s lead in combining ‘Vestapol’ and ‘Poor Boy’ – he was the first person I heard do that, back in the late 60s or early 70s – or tack it onto the end of one of my own songs as with ‘Highway Fever’ here. Or ‘Castles and Kings‘, but not available as a recording right now.

However, on this occasion I decided to quit while I was ahead and just do the instrumental. And hope that it doesn’t measure up too badly to the many fine musicians who’ve taken their own shots at this well-worn but well-loved music.

David Harley

 

Posted by: David Harley | September 15, 2020

Birdlime

Words and music by David Harley, copyright 1973

This is a very young, very bitter song. I was actually playing with it in Garageband recently as a guitar piece, but the words came back to haunt me. I think I may change them, but  the arrangement has promise.

(Vocal is a bit ropey: heavy cold…)

Backup:

Miles of air is all I need
Jab on the starter and pick up speed
Stand back lady and watch me feed my heels

Got to get you out of my head
There’s new juice keeping my motor fed
From today I’m the fastest thing on wheels

You’re birdlime baby
And you should know
You’re bad news baby
Everywhere you go

David Harley

Posted by: David Harley | September 14, 2020

Gooseberry Blues [demo]

Words & music (c) David Harley

Backup:

A slightly weird little song. Rediscovered lurking in my things-to-get-back-to folder. Barebones arrangement: vocal and rough rhythm track (because I discovered I didn’t like the original chords as much 30 years on). Words and music copyright David Harley, 1976

Going down the upline to your heart
Changing stations for a brand-new start
If you’d asked I might have stayed
But since we met it’s been stop signals all the way

Going back to the Badlands where I’m known
So I don’t have to sing those backstage blues alone
If you ask I might just say
The gooseberry blues is one tune I don’t play

Going down the upline to your heart
Changing partners for a brand-new start
If you asked I might just stay
But since we met it’s been stoplights all the way

Posted by: David Harley | September 14, 2020

East River (Harley)

East River (Harley): an improvised slide guitar piece

Backup:

Posted by: David Harley | September 14, 2020

Odd Job Man [demo]

Words & music (c) David Harley

Backup:

I haven’t actually done this with slide guitar in decades, but I found this version on a cassette and quite liked it. Even though it leaves out my favourite verse.

Words & Music by David Harley: all rights reserved

I’m an odd job man, I work by day and night
I’m an odd job man, I work by day and night
I’m a handy-doodle-dandy and my dovetails fit just right.

I’m a Do-It-Yourself demon, got the tool for every use
I’m a D-I-Y demon, got the tool for every use
I’ve got an A1 set of drivers when your screws are working loose

I’ve got the brace and the bit to drill just where you need
Gotta brace, got a bit, I can drill just where you need
I’ve the angle and the rhythm, satisfaction guaranteed

I’ve got the switches and the cable and my fuses never blow
Gotta jack for every socket and my connections never blow
When I overhaul your wiring just lay back and watch her go

I’m an odd job man, on the job just when you please
I’m an odd job man, fix it anywhere you please
If your hardware’s getting rusty, just let me slip you some grease

A 12-bar reflecting my long-standing interest in Do-it-Yourself. Though I hear it’s more fun if you don’t have to do it all yourself. Ahem.

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