Soldier of Fortune

Words and Music by David Harley, copyright 1974.

Written at a time when I was much more ambivalent about my religious beliefs (or the lack of them) than I am now, but I’d like to think that even the least enlightened deity or prophet might be appalled at some of  the actions their followers take in their name. A version of this song was released on the Scriptwrecked cassette, but re-recorded here. 

Have you seen a man choke on another man’s dream
And humanity dying of shame?
Have you seen a man drunk on another man’s blood
And a scapegoat called Christ get the blame?

And God knows I’m no angel
But then I wouldn’t claim to be
Nor the gambler who lost
On a hill called Calvary

Have you walked in fear of another man’s lust
In the heat of a holy war
That slashed the throats of the innocent
The guilty and the bored?

And maybe we’re all guilty
But I wouldn’t want to be
The gambler who lost
On a hill called Calvary

Have you seen the soldiers of fortune
Fighting for names?
Have you seen the fallen angels
Play their whisky games?

And each one thinking
He has the right to be
A stand-in for the dealer
Who OD’d on Calvary


Soldier [demo]

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 I’ve just re-recorded it for this site.


Marianne [demo]

I wrote the words (more or less) in the late 60s. The original tune was later used for something else, so I was kind of making a variation up as I went along on this demo. Of its time, but I like it. Sketch for a better version later, when I finally learn it.

Marianne: Words and Music copyright David Harley, 1969

In the intimate oblivion of collusion
I see you dancing with another man
And I know that you’ll tell me it’s a really groovy scene
But I never much liked dancing, Marianne

So go take your problems to a new confessor
Perhaps he’ll listen while he holds your hand
But don’t expect him to provide you with the answers
It’s not a caseload that he’s after, Marianne

I’ve tried to talk it over as a lover
But I can’t seem to make you understand
You’re not the kind to be content with me the way I am
And I like to make my own scene, Marianne

I’ve got a little story I should tell you
How sometimes a woman needs a man
But I don’t think you even need someone to need you
And I don’t think you’d believe me, Marianne

And you tell me that I’m fettered by illusions
And you’ve had all the chaining you can stand
I’d hate to be the one to block your freedom
But I’m not into two-timing, Marianne

And you’ll tell every word I say is empty
And I know that you don’t need my helping hand
I’m not the one to say I didn’t love you
But I never really liked you, Marianne

This song’s not over [demo]

A very rough demo: it’s hard work revisiting even simple songs you haven’t sung for decades.

This Song’s Not Over (Words and Music by David Harley, copyright 1974)

This song’s not over
We’d best take what we’re owed
So pack your bags
And let’s get on the road

We’ve had our share of bruising
We drank some bitter wine
But I’m sick and tired of losing
So let’s try one more time

I guess we broke too easy
I know I dragged my feet
But hold on, and we’ll make it
Right back to Easy Street

We were building up too much
To let the pieces drop
If we both try some humble pie
We can take it from the top

Blues I Blew [demo]

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).


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

This End of the 1960s [demo revisited]

One of my songs from the 1970s.

This End of the 1960s: Words and Music copyright 1975 David Harley

Still only demo quality, but remixed, then remastered to raise the volume level.

Shine like a sun on this cloudy day
Reached out my arms but you’re far away
Dawn took the sunshine away

Strange how familiar a new song can be
At the trigger end of a memory
Dawn took the sunshine away

I can remember a sunny day
Could be just yesterday
Dawn took the sunshine away

Come On In My Kitchen [demo]

Maybe my favourite blues piece of all time. Robert Johnson actually recorded two versions of this that I know of in his San Antonio session on November 23rd, 1936. And, of course, thousands of guitarists since have gone ahead and added their own verses.

For this version, I’ve taken verses from both takes and slightly rearranged them. I don’t play it with a slide when I play it in public- who wants to compete with Johnson’s version? – but on this occasion I’ve overdubbed a little slide, and damn the torpedoes.

David Harley


Time on my hands [demo]

Words and music copyright David Harley, 1971

Time on my hands
Time to think of a friend who changed one weekend
Changed to a part of me

Time to look back
Cosily stoned by the fire / getting much higher
Watching you watching me

Time and again
To think of caring for you / knowing I do
Hoping you might for me

Time on my hands
No hangups and nothing to say but “We had our day”
And the music goes on and on

David Harley