New book and album

For quite a while I’ve been threatening the world with a book based on my Tears of Morning album, on which nearly all the content has a Shropshire connection, including some settings of verse by Housman. The first version went onto the back-burner when I excised one of the appendices and gave it its own book (The Vanes Of Shrewsbury), which essentially provides historical and personal commentary on Shrewsbury as illustrated by my late uncle, Eddie Parker. I then veered into other projects, including a book on Nashville tuning for guitar and a new edition of my verse collection from the 1980s Suite in Four Flats (and a Maisonette).

Now, however, the Tears of Morning book (now renamed So Sound You Sleep) is available, like the other three, as a paperback and as an eBook for Kindle.

How Sound You Sleep tells the stories behind the songs on the album Tears Of Morning, which comprises songs and settings of poetry with a (sometimes tenuous) connection to Shropshire and the Welsh Marches. Several of the poetry settings are from Housman’s ‘A Shropshire Lad’.

The book contains copious commentary and information on the historical, traditional, musical and/or biographical background to the songs and poems on the original album, especially the settings of verse by Housman. However, it also includes a lot of additional material relating to other songs and settings, in many cases with a Shropshire connection that is even more tenuous. Not all the additional Housman settings, for example, are from A Shropshire Lad.

An updated version of the original album – called So Sound You Sleep – More Tears of Morning – features many more tracks in order to reflect the content of the book. There are links to each of the tracks in the book: while I’d be very happy if you bought the album, you don’t have to buy it to listen to the individual tracks. 🙂

(All of my books – well, those that are still available, including some ancient security books – can be found here, and all my current albums are on Bandcamp.)

Thanks to Kate Morley for the cover art and to Denise Lewis of the Memories of Shropshire Facebook group for permission to use a photograph of her great-grandmother, Ellen Hughes, who told a story to the writer Ida Gandy that was the starting point for one of my songs.

David Harley


Review of the Nashville Tuning book

Many thanks to Mike Wistow for a lovely review of Introduction to Nashville Tuning for Guitar for Folking.com.

(Yes, I do sometimes write reviews for the same site, but there is no underhand collusion involved!)

If reading the review makes you think maybe you would like to contribute to my retirement fund, there are currently four versions available:

  • The paperback version at £4.50,  at Amazon  (includes links to sound clips)
  • An eBook version with embedded audio clips (there’s also a review by Mike for this one): £3.50 at Amazon
  • An eBook version with links to audio, but no embedded clips: also £3.50 at Amazon
  • If you’re not a fan of Amazon, there’s also an eBook version on lulu.com at £3.55. No sound clips in that one, but the links are there, of course.

David Harley


The ‘Further Off The Record’ album

Not my most recent album, but you might call this my Greatest Hits album, if I’d ever had any hits. It does include the four tracks released so far as singles, though, and most of the tracks are remixed and/or remastered. In fact, these are all songs that have attracted airplay in the UK and/or US, been requested at live events, or had significant numbers of plays where streamed or available in various video and audio formats. And anyway, I like ’em!

Available from Apple Music, Spotify, iTunes etc.  (Link includes excerpts from all tracks.) PR and lyric sheets here: Further Off The Record. See also Strictly Off The Record, on Bandcamp, with an extra track!

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Continue reading “The ‘Further Off The Record’ album”

Eclipses and Auroras

You’re going to be disappointed. This is possibly the dullest astronomical post you’ll ever read, if you’re rash enough to read on in the hope that I’m joking.

Well, just so that it isn’t a complete waste of your time, it started with a post that just crossed my radar on the Cornish Story web site. Cornwall and the Scillies were the part of Britain best-placed to see the total eclipse of 1999, and while many were disappointed that Cornish mizzle obscured the spectacle, Alan Murton and his family were luckier than most and got a pretty good view from the cliffs at Perranporth, as described in his article Whose Eclipse?

In his postscript, he says: “Can you remember the full eclipse of the sun?  I do because I was among the lucky ones who enjoyed the sight of the clouds parting a few minutes before totality.”

On another day, I probably wouldn’t have commented on that, but as it happens I’m sitting in my pyjamas with my brain working at half-speed due to a (hopefully temporary) condition that’s too dull and (more importantly) too embarrassing to describe further, and this is about the most useful bit of writing I’m capable of right now.

So yes, I remember it. Mostly because I didn’t see it. I wasn’t in Cornwall, for a start, and hadn’t been for many years (holidaying as a child). I was in London, working for Imperial Cancer Research Fund, which later became Cancer Research UK. And I was probably the only person in the building, everyone else having rushed out to Lincoln’s Inn Fields to see whatever the weather permitted of the eclipse. Why? I was on the phone to some other luckless, totality-deprived individual, trying to get a handle on his or her IT-related problem. No, of course I don’t remember what the problem was: if it was a helpdesk day, it could have been anything. So my view of the eclipse was basically that of darkness suddenly descending on Kingsway: apart from the speed of the descent, it looked much like any winters evening looked from my office, except that I didn’t have to wait for dawn next day to see daylight again. My daughter, who was with her mother  in Austria, did rather better.

Ah, you may say, but you’re in Cornwall now, so you must have seen the Aurora Borealis? Well, I did go out at a ridiculous hour of the morning in the hope of seeing it, but I didn’t see the amazing displays people in Cornwall had actually seen the night before. Because it was an amazingly clear night, I did take some photographs anyway, and because the phone needed exposures of several seconds, I did get to see some effects I hadn’t seen with the naked eye: a mysterious green aura over the nearest large town, and a halo round the moon. Here they are, but they’re hardly prizewinning photos.

Well, I promised you disappointment, and I always keep my promises. I can only say that some of the other photos were even duller. Perhaps I should have tried for a video or two, since I couldn’t realistically do time-elapsed stills.

David Harley

Epitaph on an Army of Mercenaries

From the forthcoming album, an expanded version of the Tears of Morning album to go with the upcoming book. I’ve recorded it before, but this version is heavily edited and remixed with copious synth.

This 1917 poem by Housman refers to the British Expeditionary Force, which German propagandists referred to as ‘mercenaries’ because at the outbreak of war, Britain’s army consisted of professional soldiers rather than conscripts or the later volunteers of ‘Kitchener’s Army‘. The BEF was practically wiped out by 1916. I find it hard to empathise with either Housman’s or Kipling’s imperialist sympathies, but the poem does have power. I hope my arrangement does it justice.

From ‘Last Poems’, by the way, not ‘A Shropshire Lad’.


More Tears of Morning – Rain

I’ve now started uploading some tracks for the enhanced (hopefully) version of the Tears of Morning album, to go with the book – almost finished. This is one of two versions of Rain that will be added to the new version. The song is (probably) the first song I wrote and kept, from the late-ish 1960s/

This is an a cappella version, the other version will be a video capture including guitar.

FolkLife magazine

Just to say that I’m no longer the (acting) Kernow correspondent for the FolkLife magazine. The column I took over briefly to allow Nigel Morson to get some of his life back has now been taken over by Lamorna Spry (thanks, Lamorna!), who already contributes some material to FolkLife. I haven’t, of course, cut my ties with the magazine, for which I do a little editing, and I’ll be happy to pass on any interesting snippets that come my way.

Lamorna has quite a reputation in Cornish historical and cultural circles, and you might well enjoy the Cornish Story site to which she is a contributor.

[In the meantime, I’ve resumed work on my ‘Tears of Morning’ book project. (Which has much more to do with Shropshire than it does with Cornwall, but I’ll hopefully catch up with my adopted home county eventually…)]

David Harley

Album Review – Paul Cowley “Stroll Out West”

This is another review for Folking.com of an excellent album by Paul Cowley: five classic country blues tracks plus seven of his own compositions. I love the fact that he focuses on the song and a country blues vibe rather than flashy guitar and hi-tech production values.

PAUL COWLEY – Stroll Out West (Lou B Music LBM007 2023)

David Harley