The Old Man Laughs [demo]

This is a song that has been published as a poem at least once. I haven’t recorded it before because rangewise, it’s a bit of a stretch, but I do think it’s a decent tune.


The Old Man Laughs (Harley)

The old man laughs and the room is that much warmer
for memory puts his one-bar fire to shame
huddled in the afterglow of a younger sun
that burned with a sweeter flame.

He smiles to recall the fertile spring
when the rain on his flesh was soft and warm:
the grass burst into tall green flames
and he held a thousand stars in his arms.

The old man laughs remembering how he chose
a harvest moon to light his lullabies
and offered into fruitful nights
the rose that blossomed behind his eyes.

He smiles, recalling autumn nights
golden leaves and golden days
when the fledglings tried their wings
and flew into the Southern haze.

The old man laughs….

Ten Percent Blues [demo]

Words & music by David Harley: all rights reserved

Recorded in the 80s using slide guitar: this version, though, has no slide. Dropped D tuning.

Backup copy


This is the studio-recorded slide version:




YouTube video version played in dropped D, no slide. From 2020.

audio capture:


Got a seat facing the engine
So I don’t have to face where I’ve been
Luggage on the rack, no reason to look back
At all my wrecked and reckless gypsy dreams
No more bright lights, no more white lines
Or crashing in the back of the van
No more hustling small-time gigs
I guess time has beaten the band

No more deadlines, no more breadlines
Mr 10%, you’re on your own
No more fine print, no more backstage  blues
This rolling stone is rolling home

Got a ticket to take me to tomorrow
It can’t be worse than today
So driver, take me home and don’t spare the horsepower
I’m on a ten year holiday
No more missed chances and chickens*t advances
Cold chips in the back of the van
No more blown tires and fuses, no more broken promises
Time has beaten the band

No more deadlines, no more breadlines
Mr 10%, you’re on your own
No more fine print, no more backstage  blues
This rolling stone is rolling home

No more spotlights, no more ups and downers
Absolutely no stage fright
No more superstar fantasies
From today I’m strictly 9-5
No more infighting, no more moonlighting
No more one-night stands
All along while the band was beating time
I guess time was beating the band

No more deadlines, no more breadlines
Mr 10%, you’re on your own
No more fine print, no more backstage  blues
This rolling stone is rolling home


Best Days [demo]

I tend to regard my songs as fiction, albeit sometimes taking their starting point from my own experience or that of people around me. This one, though, actually sounds closer than is comfortable to how I often felt in my mid-20s: not the best time of my life…

Backup copy:

The best days (Harley)

Sometimes I miss those other places where my lifestyle has been forged
I might even miss this town when I’ve moved on
Though I’m just turned 24, right now I’m feeling so much more
When I get this weary feeling that the best days are gone
The best days are gone

Other times I felt so low and wanted what was lost
Are hidden in a mist of golden days
But mostly I was happy, though I didn’t know it then
Such strange tricks that hindsight plays
Tricks that hindsight plays

Nothing’s as it seems to be, there’s no one I can trust
I want to wake and find myself a million years away
And more than once or twice when just living wore me down
I’ve wished I had the nerve to split and drift with the highway
And drift with the highway

There are names that I remember, many more that I forget
All the girls I never had, too many that I lost
One or two could make me cry at midnight all alone
But when you go I think I’ll miss you most
And now you’re gone, Lord knows I miss you most


Nowhere to Nowhere [revisited]

Words by Alison Pittaway, tune by me.  All rights reserved.

backup/alternative take:



Birds made homeless today
The tree fellers came to take their prey
Diggers ripping up the earth
Concrete laid down for what it’s worth
From nowhere to nowhere

Green belt turned grey – why should they care?
Tainted money buys land laid bare
Shifting soil, uprooting pines
Laying down more railway lines
From nowhere to nowhere

Villages and fields torn in two
Holes in the hearts of me and you
Earth and rubble shifted load by load
Traffic chaos on the roads
From nowhere to nowhere

Meadows buried under bricks and dust
Lost to the profiteers and money lust
No more time to have our say
No time to see what went astray
From somewhere to nowhere

Nowhere to nowhere
Nowhere to nowhere


Chuck Berry-beri demo [take 3]


With the words as I more or less sing them now, and better mastered.

The Chuck Berry-Beri

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 I need a holiday
So I’m out here on a midnight cruise
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
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 that anyone’s at home
I’ll call you with the news from nowhere
When I’m stranded by the side of the road
I still need a holiday
But I can’t afford another midnight cruise
Still I can’t break the habit
Need another shot of rhythm and blues

David Harley


Moonflow II remastered

A guitar piece I’m rather fond of. Originally it was a lengthy improvised intro to ‘Needle Of Death’, but over time it lost ‘Needle Of Death’ and gained a couple of overlaid instruments – resonator slide and a Variax pretending to be a Coral Sitar and a more conventional electric guitar.

Moonflow II (Harley)

Silk & Steel

The Silk & Steel page includes most of the tracks from my Sheer Bravado cassette album from the early 80s, but not including the tracks that are featured on the page Don MacLeod & David Harley.  Mostly, these tracks were recorded in 1983 at Centre Sound, Camden, and the quality is somewhat compromised by the degradation that affected the master tape and some occasionally inexpert mixing and engineering. I guess you get what you pay for, but I must admit that I wasn’t well acquainted with the technical side of recording, so it’s certainly not all down to the studio… These tracks were also featured on the CD Silk And Steel, which isn’t currently available.

These are remastered, so timings may now be slightly different.

1. Long Stand 3.03
2. Ten Percent Blues 3.42
3. Hands of the Craftsman 5.46
4. Death of a Marriage 4.16
5. Diane (Going Out) 6.04
6. Silk and Steel 3.30
7. Paper City 5.28
8. Coasting 5.34
9. Circle 8.16
10. Blues for Davy 2.10

David Harley: vocals; acoustic/electric/slide guitars.
All Words and Music © David Harley


Faintly Fahey / Fainter Fahey remastered

This guitar piece started as a sort of fake Irish air in DADGAD but somehow became a slide guitar piece in Csus2 tuning (if I remember rightly), by way of one or two other tunings I can’t remember right now. Or maybe the slide version came first. Anyway, I can’t quite decide which way I prefer it. But there’s no reason I can’t keep them both in the repertoire (though I’ll need to practice them a bit before I do them in front of a real audience again).

Here’s the slide version, which acquired the title ‘Faintly Fahey’. Not that I’m as well acquainted with John Fahey’s work as I ought to be, but when I played the first demo version back, it reminded me vaguely of ‘The Death Of The Clayton Peacock’, even though the tune and tempo are completely different.



Here’s the other version. It didn’t have a title originally, but it’s now called ‘Fainter Fahey’ because it’s pretty much the same tune as the other, but not very Fahey-like bereft of its slide context.


West Kernow Sounds interview

Back in January Craig interviewed me for WKS, and included three of my songs (so hopefully it’s not a complete waste of half an hour). This is actually the last WKS podcast for a while, as he’s moving over to Coast FM.

In a post on the WKS Facebook page, he wrote: “Hi I’m compiling a list of local bands and artists that play original songs and would like to get involved in the Coast FM Radio show, 3 or 4 songs and chat about your music. Live on Saturdays 12:00 till 13:00. Please message me on here. Cheers.”

David Harley