Long Stand [remastered]

A few years ago my wife and I were watching a TV programme about Sting’s ‘The Last Ship Sails’ project. When they played a track called (I think) ‘Sky Hooks & Tartan Paint’, she said “That’s your song!” It wasn’t of course, but the first verse did have a startling resemblance to the first verse of ‘Long Stand’, both starting off with the ‘hazing‘ of a lad on his first day at work, though mine went on to make a political point. However, mine was written back in the early 80s for a revue directed by Margaret Ford, and subsequently released on a cassette album, so I’m pretty sure it came first…

This version was remastered – as best I could – from a damaged master tape, and while there’s still some noise, it’s made the transfer better than most of my tracks from CentreSound. All rights reserved.

Backup copy:

The day I started work, the foreman said to me,
“I’ve another job for you when you’ve finished brewing tea:
Go down to the stores and when you find old Stan,
Tell him Harry sent you for a long stand.”

I got a long stand all right: I stood an hour or more,
Till Stan got tired of the joke and sent me back to the shop floor.
Well I didn’t think it funny, but I laughed and held my peace,
Even when they sent me back for a tin of elbow grease.

Still I did my bit, till I was pensioned off in ’69
From apprentice to foreman, all down the production line.
Many’s the lad I’ve sent myself when things were getting dull
For a can of striped paint or a pound of rubber nails.

But the joke they’re playing now, I just don’t think it’s fair:
Even when you get your ticket, the work just isn’t there.
The safest job in England is handing out the dole:
For every man that gets a job they turn away a hundred more.

For now the work is scarce, again, the queues are building up.
The streets are full of lads and lasses looking out for jobs;
But when you’ve just left school, you hardly stand a chance
They’re sending every lad in England for a long stand.

They say that if you’ve got the gumption you can do just as you please.
They say you’ll do all right with a bit of elbow grease;
But with a hundred out for every job, it’s few that stand a chance
They’re sending every lad in England for a long stand
They’re sending every lass in England for a long, long stand

Back in the days when Britain had industries, it was customary for the older blokes to send apprentices to fetch curious items such as a can of striped paint or some rubber nails. The lucky lad who was sent for a long stand was liable to be left standing at the counter for a half an hour or longer while the storeman went off for a cup of tea and a chuckle. This song was written for a revue called “Nice if you can get it” directed by the actress Margaret Ford in the early 1980s. The guitar was tuned to D-modal, to give it a folksy Martin Carthy/Nic Jones feel. But it still sounds more like David Harley to me… 

I once had exchange of snailmail – it was before my internet days) – with the former Labour MP Joe Ashton, who mentioned the sport of apprentice-hazing in his column for one of the tabloids, describing some similar japes and a particularly vigorous retaliation involving tacks and doggy-do.  I bet you don’t get that kind of hazing in merchant banks and call centres. 

David Harley: Vocal, acoustic guitar

Blues for Davy

One of several tracks recorded (mostly) at CentreSound in Camden in the 1980s and released on cassette at the time. The mastertapes were seriously unwell with ‘sticky-shed syndrome’ when I had them transferred to CD – an issue that affected a number of tape brands from that era. Baking the tape helped more with some tracks than others.  This is rougher than most, but I have a lot of trouble wrapping my fingers round this guitar piece nowadays, and I keep trying to tweak it into something bearable because I think there’s a decent scrap of music in there somewhere. I think this is as good as it’s likely to get now. Maybe I need to keep trying to relearn it…

As the title suggests, it was me trying to sound like Dav(e)y Graham in jazz mode. He never told me what he thought of it, which I suspect meant that he wasn’t impressed. 😀

David Harley

True Confessions [remastered]

Another track from the ‘Diverse Brew’ sessions. This is a song co-written with Don MacLeod (who wrote the melody), and the mix is actually pretty good. But again, I don’t have the mix tapes or master to work from. Still, I’ve tweaked it as best I can.

  • Lead and backing vocal, acoustic and electric lead guitars: David Harley
  • Acoustic guitar and piano: Don MacLeod
  • Additional backing vocals: Anna (Lin) Thompson
  • Percussion: Richard Davy

David Harley

Heatwave [remastered 2019]

Another from the ‘Diverse Brew’ sessions. Not much I’ve been able to do to improve sound quality on this, but perhaps it’s a little better than previous posted versions, with headphones at any rate. Sounds awful through my laptop’s speakers… 😦

I really must re-record it, perhaps without the penultimate verse. I do think it’s one of my better songs.

Not literal historical fact, but a series of pictures reacting to the urban paranoia that was London when I lived there – Broadwater Farm and other riots, the ‘sus’ law, homelessness… – and I didn’t even get round to mentioning IRA bombings.

  • Vocal, acoustic and electric guitars, banjo: David Harley
  • Piano: James Bolam (no, not the actor)

David Harley

One Step Away (From The Blues) [remastered] 2019

If you’re unfortunate enough to have heard a lot of me in the last 30 years or so, the chances are you’ve heard this song. This is the version we recorded in the 1980s for an album that was never released. I’ve put it up here and there before, but this is a cleaner version. Unfortunately, I only had an imperfect cassette recording to work from, so there’s more noise than I’d like. But the mix is reasonably good, and I’ve remastered it here as best I could, given my unreliable hearing and unimpressive engineering skills.

  • Vocal, acoustic guitar, electric guitar: David Harley
  • Acoustic lead guitar: Don MacLeod
  • Acoustic 12-string guitar: Bob Theil

David Harley

Kipling demos [2]

My setting of the poem ‘My Boy Jack’ by Rudyard Kipling: I was looking at a couple of projects to coincide with the centenary of the ending of the Great War, but this is the only one that’s actually been heard in public.

It’s often assumed that the poem refers to the loss of Kipling’s son John, presumed killed at the Battle of Loos in 1915. The confusion was probably increased by the TV adaptation of David Craig’s play, which missed out the 3rd Act and finished with Kipling reciting the poem. However, while Kipling’s own grief did, no doubt, contribute to the overall tone of the poem, it was first published at the top of a series of articles on the Battle of Jutland, in which the British fleet sustained heavy losses, and it seems to me (and others) that, given the importance of ‘the tide’ in the poem, that the name Jack probably reflects the more generic ‘Jack Tar’. (While the earlier ‘Tommy’ has a very different tone, it does use the generic name ‘Tommy Atkins’ in a somewhat similar way.)

The guitar is a Nashville-strung Baby Taylor. I think the final version of this might have include some double- or triple-tracked vocals. Even if it doesn’t, the vocal needs work.

‘My Boy Jack’
1914-18

“HAVE you news of my boy Jack? ”
Not this tide.
“When d’you think that he’ll come back?”
Not with this wind blowing, and this tide.

“Has any one else had word of him?”
Not this tide.
For what is sunk will hardly swim,
Not with this wind blowing, and this tide.

“Oh, dear, what comfort can I find?”
None this tide,
Nor any tide,
Except he did not shame his kind—
Not even with that wind blowing, and that tide.

Then hold your head up all the more,
This tide,
And every tide;
Because he was the son you bore,
And gave to that wind blowing and that tide. 

Kipling demos revisited [1]

After hearing Baldrick’s Plan sing (very well indeed!) ‘Big Steamers’, a Kipling poem set by Peter Bellamy to a variation on a well-known tune to ‘Henry Martin’, I thought I’d revisit a couple of my own settings of Kipling verses. (I have a rough setting of ‘Tommy’, too, but I’m rethinking that.)

Does the world really need my settings to three poems that Peter Bellamy had already added to his considerable armoury of Kipling settings? I’m not sure about that, at the moment. But here, for what it’s worth, is one of them.

I’m sure I remember at least one other setting of ‘A Smuggler’s Song’ apart from mine and Peter’s, but I quite like this tune. I could repurpose it, I suppose.

A Smuggler’s Song

 

Sarah McQuaid UK dates

Since quite a few of them are in Cornwall/the West Country 🙂

Nov 1  Teignmouth: Pavilions Teignmouth
Nov 2  Praa Sands Community Centre
Nov 3  Ivybridge: Folk On The Moor
Nov 4  Blandford Forum: Chettle Village Hall
Nov 6  Preston: The Willows Folk Club
Nov 7  Caerleon Arts
Nov 8  Farnham Maltings
Nov 9  Box (Corsham): Schtumm Extra
Nov 10  Haverhill Arts Centre
Nov 12  Felton (Morpeth): Gallery Forty5
Nov 14  York: Black Swan Folk Club
Nov 15  Ulverston: Water Yeat Village Hall
Nov 16  Buxton: The Green Man Gallery
Nov 17  East Cowton Village Hall
Nov 18  Newcastle: The Bridge Folk Club
Nov 20  Leicester: The Musician
Nov 23  Northampton: Folk By The Green
Nov 24  Hardraw: The Green Dragon Inn
Nov 25  Stockport: The Green Room @ The Plaza
Nov 28  Luton: The Hat Factory
Nov 29  Tewkesbury: The Old Baptist Chapel
Nov 30  Liskeard: Sterts Studio

(See http://www.sarahmcquaid.com/tour for details of addresses, times, ticket prices etc)

David Harley