Aftermath/Postcards [demo]

A tale of three dysfunctional people. Actually, some of my best songs are about dysfunctional people, but I don’t want to think too hard about what that signifies. As it has a very simple chord sequence (almost literally a three-chord trick) the demo version includes a second acoustic guitar. (There’s an earlier version here where the second guitar is electric rather than acoustic. )

 

Remastered version:

 

Backup copy:

Electric backup:

Years on from the explosion
Standing in the aftermath
She waits for the three minute warning
Hear’s nothing
Runs the bath
And pulls the chain on another miracle
Waits (though the post is always late)
For letters which never seem to arrive
And are never worth the wait

Still the sun shines on bravely
The wind blows kisses to the see
Gulls waltz to the rhythm of the waves
And she writes
‘I wish you could be here with me’
Skips through the morning like a postcard
Spends the afternoon alone
Carries out the day to order
One eye on her horoscope
And one ear to the phone

Sometimes she wakes in someone else’s bed
Before he wakes, she’s gone
Leaving him to wonder why
She couldn’t let the evening die alone
Still he lights a cigarette
Soon remembers to forget
But he wonders where his whisky went
Wonders why his day is empty

She has dropped her life on postcards
Through a letterbox in distant parts
But the tale was shunted into disused sidings
And the unintended bombsites of his heart
And he writes “At last I’ve found a woman
Who’s noticed that I’m me,
And not just a dispenser
Of Scotch and sympathy
And maybe she’s The One
Or maybe I’m just marking time
But at least she holds her liquor
And she doesn’t whine…”

And he writes
“Go your way, taking with you
A year or two of my life
That’s all I have to offer
But don’t forget to write…”

David Harley (c) 1974

James Alley Blues [demo]

A  work in progress.

I’ve played ‘Born In The Country’ – Judy Roderick’s rewrite of Richard (Rabbit) Brown’s ‘James Alley Blues’ – for at least four decades. Usually for other singers, though in recent years I’ve been doing a more personalized solo version which might turn up here eventually.  Today it struck me that it would be nice to do the pre-Roderick version.

This is much closer to the version Brown recorded in 1927, though I’ve almost certainly misremembered the melody and made no attempt to duplicate the guitar part. I guess I should dig out the Victor recording, but I quite like it like this.

David Harley

Paper City 2019 [demo]

There is a studio recording of this which is more rock ‘n’ roll, but I haven’t really done it in public since the disbanding of the Flying Piglets (yeah, I know, but the name wasn’t my idea…) so I thought I’d try a new arrangement. Needs work, but I think it will be OK.

I woke up with my mind’s eye facing your direction:
I looked hard and I saw you needed help.
You’re choking on paper and tape and legislation,
But you can’t produce one thing to help yourself.

Paper city at the heart of a paper empire:
You’ve got strings to pull, you’ve got wires all over the earth.
Sky-climbing parasite, concrete and paper jungle,
You’ve got money to burn, but I know you’d rather freeze to death.

You’ve got stacks of stocks and shares and bonds:
You’ve got telephone and telex,databank and dateline too.
But you can’t produce as much as one lead pencil,
Or a bar of soap, or a rubber band to pull you through.

The media twitch at the flash of a freemason’s handshake:
Speeches are made and the punters gather round;
Paper politicians and faceless company men,
Taking the pulse of an ailing paper pound.

I bet you know just what you’re worth on paper:
When the market crumbles, what will that do to you?
A lot of cold people don’t own the earth they lie in:
Will you be all right in your green-lined paper tomb?

Paper city at the heart of a bankrupt empire:
Your towers get higher as your assets hit new lows.
Nose-diving parasite, I wouldn’t mind you dying,
But you’ll take so many with you when you go.

Copyright David Harley 1982

A rainy day blues [demo]

There are a number of songs called ‘Rainy Day Blues’. This, however, is the only one written by me. 🙂

I’ve probably posted this before somewhere, but this is a slightly different arrangement.

Some days are like a melody
But I can’t seem to hold the key
I don’t mind losing
I just wish I had a little more to lose

So I spend my day trying to keep  myself amused
Sitting here picking at a rainy day blues
I don’t mind losing
I just wish I had a little more to lose

It seems the road to fortune never ends
You play God all week and golf at weekends
I don’t mind losing
I just wish I had a little more to lose

And if we quit the rat-race we could have a ball
But you know those big wheels grind so small
I don’t mind losing
I just wish I had a little more to lose

You say you love me but it seems sometimes
You stuff my mouth with kisses and my ears with lies
I don’t mind losing
I just wish I had a little more to lose

Words and Music copyright David Harley 1973

One Step Away (from the blues) 2019 [demo]

We recorded a version of this back in the ’80s for which I liked the arrangement, but was never quite happy with the vocals. Finally I have a version where the guitar part and vocal seem to work. Now I just have to think about the additional instruments (acoustic lead, 12-string, and electric slide on the original version). And maybe merging it with ‘Letting Go

Words & Music copyright David Harley

 

Letting Go 2019 [demo]

You keep asking for time so I’m giving you the rest of your life
It’s been a long way down but you can give it just as long as you like
A fast set of wheels is the only way out I know
I just feel like letting go

Talk about miles of air, that’s all I need
I’m leaving light as I came ’cause that’s just about my speed
I came in 29 and I’m leaving feeling 44
I just feel like letting go

We started out dancing but we’re each doing different steps
And I’m sick of waiting for a miracle to connect
You keep changing the rules but I’ve an end game all my own
I just feel like letting go

Sometimes I get the strangest feeling lying in your bed
While my body makes love, there’s rubber burning in my head
A fast set of wheels is the cleanest cut I know
I just feel like letting go

Copyright David Harley 1982

Blackwaterside [demo]

This isn’t a song I can really do justice to vocally, but after discussing arrangements with a friend a few months ago, I thought it would be nice to work on an instrumental arrangement. To be honest, I’ve cheated a little, since this is basically the accompaniment to a version I was working up with Sally Goddard last year – we might even get to play it in public somewhere this year! – with some extra ornamentation.

Sally previously recorded it with Atlantic Union in a much more rhythmic version which uses a variation on the tune most people sing. This takes it back to a much slower reading, but does use that variation in the tune.

This is in DADGAD: I was trying out a version in standard tuning a few months ago that I quite liked. I’ll have to take another look at that, but I think this would be pretty good too, with a bit more practice.

David Harley

The Chuck Berry Beri [demo]

Chuck Berry beri: related to the rocking pneumonia and the boogie-woogie flu, but not, in this case, rock and roll. The words started over a decade ago as Chuck Berry pastiche, but when I came back to it this year it turned into something quite different.

I don’t feel very much like dancing
No song worth singing but the blues
I used to feel like some kind of sex bomb
Till you absconded with the fuse

I think perhaps I need a holiday
So I’m out here on a midnight cruise
I think I’ve got the Chuck Berry-beri
Got to get a shot of rhythm and blues

I guess there’s no time left for loving
Looking into your backyard
Dissatisfaction guaranteed
But back to you was just a step too far

The waves were blowing higher
And we were shaking at the end of the cruise
It’s a fascinating rhythm
But I need a shot of rhythm and blues

I thought I saw your nightlight flicker
But I don’t think there’s anyone at home
Maybe I’ll call you with the news from nowhere
While I’m stranded by the side of the road

Maybe I still need a holiday
But I can’t afford another midnight cruise
Still I can’t break the habit
I need another shot of rhythm and blues

Words and music copyright March 2019 by David Harley