Trad2Mad videos

Trad2Mad is a monthly competition run by Islington Folk Club for unaccompanied singers. I don’t expect ever to win, as there are far better singers than me regularly taking part, but I’m quite enjoying the challenge of leaving my comfort zone far behind.

‘Gabriel’s Hounds’ by Mike Raven – August 2020

Current entry. Information about the song on the YouTube page. It was recorded by Jon Raven on an LP by Jon and Mike Raven in the 1960s that also featured Jean Ward.


‘Rain’ – July 2020

‘Rain’ is a song I wrote in the 60s when I was still at school and had just discovered folk music. (The 3rd verse was actually added a decade or so later, and I’m still not sure whether it belongs there stylistically, but I sang it here anyway, though it was a last moment decision.) Nowadays, I often sing it with guitar (sometimes using the first verse as a chorus), but I originally intended it to be sung unaccompanied. Probably because I wasn’t much of a guitarist…

Audio capture, mastered to raise the volume slightly:

Backup copy:

Rain, the gentle rain that hung upon the grass

The autumn rain that touched the fields so early
When the summer sun returns will you hold me once again
In your arms, among the fields of golden barley?

Summer was a burning wind that raised a bitter crop
That came and went so swiftly and unfairly
And then the autum rain put a rust upon my heart
Left alone among the fields of golden barley

A pale song, a sad song to hold within my mind
A bitter song of summer love gone from me
When the summer sun returns will you hold me in your arms
Once again, among the fields of golden barley?

(Optional alternative 3rd verse)
A pale song, a sad song to hold within my mind
A bitter song of summer love gone from me
A pale song, a bitter song to hold within my mind
Left alone among the fields of golden barley

(Optionally, repeat verse 1, or use as chorus.)


‘Soldier (You Come, You Go)’ – June 2020

Words and music copyright David Harley 1976.

Home-studio version, double-tracked and mastered to raise the volume:

This song was originally part of a set of songs I started in the 1970s but never actually finished. In those days my generation was very much preoccupied with Vietnam and its neighbours, though the story wasn’t meant to be geographically or politically specific. More about the psychology of occupation and the winning (and losing) of hearts and minds… I was very much of a generation of songwriter that was very focused on issues, he said pretentiously.

A thousand years of rape
lie easy on my body
a thousand years of blood and fear
a million miles of marching feet and refugees

you come
you go
bring wampum, cookies
beads and rings

you come
you go
trade pretty things
for my pretty thing

cropped hair
and death-in-life hero eyes
how long
before you spread your epaulettes
and fly?

(smoke your Luckies
drink your words
eat your candy
suck you dry)

you come
you go

The lyric was published in Chaff 2, 1985. A version of this was recorded for the Scriptwrecked tape, but  re-recorded  for this site.


‘The Fancy Passes’ (‘When I Was’ Pt. 1) – May 2020. Setting of a Housman poem.

Several decades ago, I put a tune to ‘A Shropshire Lad’ XVIII:

Oh, when I was in love with you
Then I was clean and brave,
And miles around the wonder grew
How well did I behave.

But now the fancy passes by
And nothing will remain,
And miles around they say that I
Am quite myself again.

For a long time I sang that (occasionally) unaccompanied. More recently, it occurred to me that the same tune also fitted XIII ‘When I was one-and-twenty…’ and that the two actually had a thematic connection. So I put together a suite of the two, both accompanied on guitar, and also including an instrumental interlude. I’m still working on a final recording of that, which might also include an instrumental version of ‘Down by the Salley Gardens’: indeed, Sally Goddard and I were discussing a live set a couple of years ago that would have included all three songs, but the way the world is right now, it might be a while before we get to do it to an audience. (Sally lives in Canada now!.) Here, however, is a remastered version of an early take on the combination of XVIII and XIII, including a quasi-orchestral interlude. (It’s actually a Yamaha keyboard, since that was the nearest thing to a real orchestra I had to hand!)

I will be (hopefully) revisiting it to do a version with a better vocal, though.

David Harley

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