Dying of Communication [demo]

A suddenly resurrected blues-y song. First time sung in about 30 years, so a bit rough, but I like the energy.

I woke up in the night thinking about this one for the first time in maybe 30 years. Fortunately, I could still find the words, though I’ve changed them slightly here (also the tempo is a bit more upbeat than when I originally wrote it). Unusually (for me) the slide is an open G. I’ve been using an open C again recently, too.

Dying of communication: Copyright David Harley 1976

Remastered:

Backup copy:

Backup copy

Sitting it out at the full moon
Reading my mail from the next room
Can’t you see we’re dying
Dying of communication?

Checking it out with the radio
Late late news is ‘no place to go’
Can’t you see we’re dying
Dying of communication?

Sitting it out in the bathroom
Freaked out on ego juice
Fighting it out in the bedroom
Wondering what’s the use
Everyone knows we’re dying
Dying of communication

 

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Big Road Blues [demo]

A Tommy Johnson classic that suddenly revisited my head after a decade or two.

I was actually noodling around with an arrangement for Castles and Kings, which I’ve started to think of as a sort of Shropshire train blues, when I suddenly found myself thinking of the Tommy Johnson classic ‘Big Road Blues’, which hasn’t crossed my mind in decades.

Now lightly remastered…

Backup:

Epitaph on an Army of Mercenaries [demo]

Updated version of a setting by me of the Housman poem.

And backup:

Another Housman setting, this time from Last Poems. I’m seeing whether it will fit into a sequence of songs I’ve been working on. (See Soldier (You Come, You Go) and Soldier of Fortune.)

Here’s a more recent version.

The 1917 poem refers to the British Expeditionary Force, which German propagandists referred to as ‘mercenaries’ because at the outbreak of war, Britain’s army consisted of professional soldiers rather than conscripts or the later volunteers of ‘Kitchener’s Army‘. The BEF was practically wiped out by 1916.

A poem by Hugh MacDiarmid, ‘Another Epitaph on an Army of Mercenaries’ takes a very different view, regarding the BEF as ‘professional murderers’.

The setting by Geoffrey Burgon sung by Gillian McPherson on the soundtrack to the Dogs of War is much more dramatic, and very effective (even though some might doubt whether the poem is entirely appropriate in terms of this particular novel and movie). This is much simpler and fits the cycle I have in mind better. Still, I might rethink that. This is definitely a work in progress.

Here’s the Housman poem:

Epitaph on an Army of Mercenaries

These, in the day when heaven was falling,
The hour when earth’s foundations fled,
Followed their mercenary calling,
And took their wages, and are dead.

Their shoulders held the sky suspended;
They stood, and earth’s foundations stay;
What God abandoned, these defended,
And saved the sum of things for pay.

David Harley

Coasting [demo]

I’ve recorded this several times before, including a ‘proper’ studio version, but have never been quite satisfied with it. This rough mix attempts a looser version with a jazzier guitar. Both guitars here are a Gibson jumbo with a P90 pickup, by the way, if these things are of interest to you. 🙂

David Harley 

 

Electric Rain [demo]

I wrote this song (properly called ‘Rain’) when I was still at school in the 1960s and had just discovered folk music. And on the rare occasions when I’ve sung it in public, it’s always been unaccompanied, though I have previously recorded a version with pseudo-acoustic guitar. This, though is a very rough draft for a different vocal interpretation, and a step towards a properly electric accompaniment. More of that later.

David Harley

Not so Fahey [demo]

Another (non-bottleneck) version of ‘Faintly Fahey’.

The instrumental I call ‘Faintly Fahey‘ started as a sort of fake Irish air, then got translated into a bottleneck version. This is a non-slide version closer to the original idea.. There may well be more to come on this, as I think it might go rather well with the song ‘Can’t Sleep‘, but that needs more work.

David Harley

Updraught [demo]

Like Long Stand and Hands of the Craftsman, I wrote this for the revue “Nice…if you can get it”, directed by Maggie Ford sometime in the early 80s, but wasn’t used as it wasn’t really in keeping with the other material. I haven’t thought about it since, but when I found it lurking among my juvenilia a couple of years ago, found that not only could I more or less remember the tune, but that I actually quite like it. Minor changes to the lyric which no-one will notice but me…

Backup:

 

I’m through with the world and those city screams
I’ll take to the air with a cargo of dreams
All of my life I’ve been tied to the ground
Now I’m spreading my wings to take to the clouds

Flying away
Flying away

No more will I lay aching bones on cold earth
Reaching out for the sun now I know what I’m worth
No more shuffling around, feet nailed to the ground
My skysails are set and I’m outward bound

Flying away
Flying away

At one with the winds I’ll take to the sky
No longer afraid of the sun in my eyes
I’ll rise with the lark and see the world so clear
But it’s your world, not mine, and my world is here

Flying away
Flying away

Words and music by David Harley © 1983

Song of Chivalry [demo]

David Harley, copyright 1986. Published in Vertical Images 2, 1987.  I waited 30+ years for the melody to turn up, and finally it did after we moved to Cornwall. And yes, I know that it’s unlikely that M’Lord fought at Crécy (1346) and Agincourt (1415). While the Black Death subsided in England from about 1350, but outbreaks continued right through the first half of the 15th century and well beyond.

Conventional version, in standard DADGAD, combined with an instrumental version of The Holy Well:

Backup:

Version in Nashville tuning:

Backup:

Also in Nashville tuning, but live version from Ian Semple’s radio show for Coast FM:

Backup:

Also on SoundCloud:

 

When M’Lord returned
To his sheets of silk
And his gentle lady
Of musk and milk

The minstrels sang
In the gallery
Their songs of slaughter
And chivalry

The rafters roared
With laughter and boasting
Beakers were raised and drained
In toasting

The heroes of Crécy
And Agincourt
Or the madness
Of some holy war

The hawk is at rest
On the glove once more
Savage of eye
And bloody of claw

Famine and fever
Are all the yield
Of the burnt-out barns
And wasted fields

The sun grins coldly
Through the trees
The children shiver
The widows grieve

And beg their bread
At the monastery door
Tell me then
Who won the war?