Coast FM

I was enormously pleased and encouraged to have some tracks played today (April 1st 2017) on Ian Semple’s show on Coast FM (96.5 and 97.2 FM or via the web). An excellent performer in his own right, Ian includes a lot of local music in his show between 12pm and 2pm on Saturdays and I listen in whenever I can. Thanks, Ian, for the exposure and for the kind words!

The tracks were from a gaggle (or is that gabble?) of CDs I’ve been working on in the past few months when I haven’t been able to get out much. All vocals and instruments are me: I can’t blame anybody else… Words and music (apart from the Housman poem) copyright David Harley. All rights reserved.

Hands of the Craftsman

Written in the early 1980s for the review ‘Nice… if you can get it’ directed by Margaret Ford. At the time I was, myself, a wood machinist. By 1986 I was in the first stages of becoming an IT professional. I guess I proved my own point…

Double-tracked vocals and guitar by the magic of 8-track recording at CentreSound in Camden.

Minutes ago as God measures time
Something manlike emerged from the primeval slime:
Ever since, Mother Nature has been on the run
From a hand with four fingers and opposable thumb.
That hand learned to grip, then it learned to shape
Flint into a weapon, then a tool to shape,
To build and to kill, and around then it learned
To strike sparks to bring fire and lighten man’s world.

The hands of the craftsman have moulded our world
From the first stone axe to the first steam drill
To the harvester, laser, and silicon chip,
But the hands of the craftsman are losing their grip.

The years roll on swift with the birth of the wheel:
Man learned to work bronze, then iron and steel:
The bow drill, the pole lathe, the compass, the lock;
The lens, the sextant, the lantern, the clock,
Castings and mouldings, extrusions and pressings,
The bandsaw, the dropforge, the milling machine.
The tools and the skills have changed through the centuries,
The crafts and the knowledge, but seldom the dreams.

The builder could turn his hand to most trades:
Masonry, joinery, plumbing and all.
The engineer trained on a score of machines:
Now it’s often just one – he’s in luck if it’s more.
Modular programming’s the name of the game:
It means that they put you on just one machine,
One or two operations on just the one part –
It’s efficient, but de-skilling’s what it means.

One day we’re skilled men, the next, operators,
The next, no-one knows if we’ll be there at all.
The art passes into the programmer’s hands:
Tomorrow, machines will service themselves…
The glazier, the bellfounder, printers and knappers,
Dyers and weavers, some are already lost:
Prefabrication will see out the tiler
As the thatcher before him learned to his cost.

The paviour, the saddler, the cooper, the wheelwright,
Fitters and grinders and turners and smiths,
We all take our turn in the pattern of process
And one by one, we’re taking our leave…

Down To The River

The sort of song I never, ever write. Home-recorded in the late 80s. (Possibly on X15 4-track portable.) No overdubs.

I won’t go down to the river
Anyway not yet

There’s too much else to do and the water’s cold
And I don’t want my feet wet

Don’t want to get my feet wet

I won’t go down to the river
I guess I really should

But the sand’s so warm between my toes
And you know it feels so good

I know it does me good

Come on down to the river
It can’t do you harm

You’ve got to learn sometime to sink or swim
And the sun will keep you warm

The sun will keep you warm

I won’t go down to the river
You know I can’t go down

The water’s so still, the sides so steep
I’m scared that I might drown

So scared that I might drown

Come on down to the river
The road’s so hard and rough

If your head is clear and your hands are clean
Surely you can’t drown in love?

You can’t drown in love

I can’t go down to the river
I surely can’t go down

My soul is parched but my body aches
And I just know I’ll drown

I know I’ll surely drown

Come on down to the river
It tastes so sweet and cold

Come on down before it gets too late
And wash the dust out of your soul

The dust out of your soul

We’ve got to get on down to the river
We have to learn to trust

Got to wash away all the doubt and fear
Before the whole damn’ world dries up

Before the world dries up

The Carpenter’s Son

A setting of Housman’s verse from A Shropshire Lad. On this version, the first section is the song sung unaccompanied, the second section is a version of the tune played on guitar, though it has something of the sound of a desert lute. The third section is played at a dance tempo (but don’t ask me which dance). Oddly, the overdubbed bouzouki and mountain dulcimer seem to enhance rather than detract from the medieval feel.

`Here the hangman stops his cart:
Now the best of friends must part.
Fare you well, for ill fare I:
Live, lads, and I will die.

`Oh, at home had I but stayed
‘Prenticed to my father’s trade,
Had I stuck to plane and adze,
I had not been lost, my lads.

`Then I might have built perhaps
Gallows-trees for other chaps,
Never dangled on my own,
Had I left but ill alone.

`Now, you see, they hang me high,
And the people passing by
Stop to shake their fists and curse;
So ’tis come from ill to worse.

`Here hang I, and right and left
Two poor fellows hang for theft:
All the same’s the luck we prove,
Though the midmost hangs for love.

`Comrades all, that stand and gaze,
Walk henceforth in other ways;
See my neck and save your own:
Comrades all, leave ill alone.

`Make some day a decent end,
Shrewder fellows than your friend.
Fare you well, for ill fare I:
Live, lads, and I will die.’

If you can’t bear the thought of my unaccompanied voice, the instrumental sections are recorded separately here:


Let me lie easy

I’ve actually written this one three times because I kept losing the words, but this version seems to have stuck. Overdubbed harmony vocals and synth.

I don’t want to hear that the show must go on
I know that the world keeps on turning
But how can you ask me to rise with the lark
With this pain in my heart still burning?

Let me lie easy, let me lie late
Let me lie low, let the world wait
Let me lie easy, let me lie lie late
Please let me sleep till it’s over

The sheep’s in the meadow, the cow’s in the corn
The dogs call in vain for their master
Just give me a while to untangle my threads
And Little Boy Blue will come after

The summer’s near gone and the year’s on the wane
The harvest stands ripened and wasting
Just give me an hour to unscramble my head
And I promise I’ll not keep you waiting

David Harley

Author: David Harley

Musician/singer/songwriter; independent author/editor

One thought on “Coast FM”

  1. It is my pleasure to play music from the people around me….. I feel truly blessed.

    Kind regards Ian Semple Coast FM 96.5&97.2FM Our postal address is: Coast FM The Penwith Center Parade St Penzance Cornwall TR18 4BU 07506731539



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: