The Goose and the Commons

This is based on an 18th century lyric protesting against the Inclosure Acts, usually called ‘The Goose And The Common’ or ‘They hang the man and flog the woman’. I put a tune to a version of that lyric some time ago, and it’s on my ‘Cold Iron‘ album. While the privatization of common and/or waste land is more or less a done deal, the underlying topic of those who govern doing so for their own benefit rather than that of the people still has a very contemporary resonance. The lyric below makes that link more explicit: I don’t know that the world needs it, but somehow it demanded to be written… I don’t know that I’ll perform it as a song, though, as I’m already performing the older version.

The law demands that we atone
When we sell things we do not own
Yet lets MPs and Lords so fine
To sell off what is yours and mine

The poor and stateless don’t escape
When they conspire the law to break
This must be so, but we all endure
Those who conspire to make the law

You and I do not escape the web
Of laws that profit from us, the plebs
But MPs and their cronies too
Use or ignore them as it suits

The law forbids both man and woman
To protest corruption in the Commons
And so we all will Justice lack
Till we can vote to take it back…

David Harley

New Album – Nobody’s Song

Nobody’s Song

Original artwork by Kate Morley

Guitars, bouzouki (don’t blink or you’ll miss it), vocals by David A. Harley

All words and music by David A. Harley except ‘Thou Art My Lute’ – words by Paul Laurence Dunbar, music by David A. Harley

All rights reserved.

A mixed bag, but slowly catching up with some of the songs I should have recorded properly years ago. Plus some lyrics that have only recently found a tune (notably the Falklands song, 40 years too late for most people to care), and yet another setting of a poem, this time by Paul Laurence Dunbar.

  1. Nobody’s Song (Harley)

An indirect response to a couple of hostile responses to a not-very-cheerful story song I sang somewhere or other a few years ago. I try not to do sets that are unrelieved misery, but I’m not inclined to apologise because not all my songs are happy-clappy. OK, hardly any of my songs are happy-clappy… 😊

I don’t own the songs I’m singing / They found me by the road /
And let me come along for the ride
Sometimes they’re only wordplay / Sometimes they’re almost true /
Telling everybody’s history but mine

There’s a soldier just returned / Forever damaged from the war /
There’s a sailor forever lost in time.
Songs to lift your spirits / Songs to break your heart /
Telling everybody’s story but mine

Maybe I was killing time / While time was killing me /
Ignoring all the people in my head
Peering out of broken mirrors / To tell their broken tales /
All the people in my dreams and in my head

A city sleeps in sunlight / A seascape in the storm /
A town that I might go back to some time
Words I heard from lovers / For a lifetime or a night /
Singing anybody’s melody but mine

Friends and lovers past and gone / Places I should be /
Dreams that died and others that came true
Time we spent together / Too much time spent apart /
Someone gone forever, much too soon

I was only killing time / While time was killing me /
Ignoring all the people in my head
Peering out of broken mirrors / To tell their broken tales /
All the people in my dreams and in my bed

I don’t own the song I’m singing / It found me by the road /
And let me come along for the ride
Maybe it’s just wordplay / Perhaps it’s almost true /
Telling nobody’s story but mine

2. A Perfect Cocktail (Harley)

The first draft of the words to this waas several decades old, but I rewrote it and added a tune in response to Zoe Zalick’s challenge to write and perform a song in a week. I know, shades of Jack Judge and ‘The Writing Of Tipperary’. 🙂 And no, I don’t generally think it’s reasonable to blame the object of one’sunrequited obession for one’s misery…

Who’s driving nails into my lonely bed?
Who sent images scurrying through my head?
You…

And we mixed a perfect cocktail, you and I
How come now my cup is dry?

How come these days I drink so much alone?
Who’s to blame if I end up stoned?
You…

Who leaves me here, lying all alone?
Asks six weeks later why I didn’t phone
You… 

  1. Light Blue Affair (Harley)

Another lyric from around 40 years ago that finally found its tune. If I stop writing now and live to be 110, I should just about clear the backlog.

It’s a bitter-sweet light blue affair
Caught halfway between hope and despair
A tear for joy or a twisted smile
An elegant pose in the classic style
That echoes reality

It’s a strange ambiguity
Caught between life and parody
A stolen kiss, a moment of magic
Frozen between the comic and tragic
A haunting half-memory

What can we tell from these soft-focus nights
Of what might be real and exactly what’s right?
What can we learn from what we might see
On an under-developed transparency?
Only the questions are clear
Like “Where do we go from here?”

It’s a bittersweet light blue affair
A flash of future, of time we could share
A tear for joy or a twisted smile
An elegant pose in the classic style
Transcending reality
That can be what you want it to be

  1. The Day I Saved The World (Harley)

 Featuring the Hot Club de Carbis Bay…

Once I believed that love / And good intentions
Would win the day / And we would overcome
Now I’ve learned it does no good / To lean on love and knock on wood
Now you’re gone / And I’m the lonely one

I found all the wrong things to do
But just for one moment, loving you
I could have saved the world

Since I lost track of you / I’ve lost sight of a star or two
But love’s a game / That tends to leave you scarred
And though you say the story’s done / There’s still time to find the sun
If you would only tell me / Where you are

  1. Ghosts (Harley)

One of my rare lapses into something vaguely resembling jazz…

Let’s get down to cases before someone packs their bags
And there’s nothing else to do but walk away.
Please don’t say there’s nothing to talk over: that’s not true
Unless you’d rather just call it a day…

There’s a cuckoo in our love nest
I can see him in your eyes
When you’re looking straight at me
It’s not always me you see
Who is that ghost you recognized?

Sometimes when we’re making love
You seem confused about my name
It seems I’m sharing you
With someone else you knew
Who’s gone, but not forgotten just the same

If you need time to think it over
You’re right, there’s nothing to explain
But please don’t go burning your fingers
On any old flames

I’m not afraid of losing you
I never had you anyway
There always seemed to be
A part of you that you kept from me
Words you never cared to say 

  1. When The Next Wave Breaks (Harley)

A blues of sorts.

I’m nothing but a ripple / A stone thrown in the sea
When the next wave breaks / You can’t tell where I’ve been

There’s a change in the weather /There’s a restless angry sea
There’s no changing you / But there’s surely been a change in me

I’ll take that lonesome highway / By the light of a lonesome moon
You know the sooner you start crying / The sooner I’ll be gone

When the sun is going down / And the moon begins to rise
I’ll be so far down the road / There’s no shadow left behind

There might be just one woman / Could make me want to stay
If you were her, my bag / Would not be packed today 

  1. The Best Days Are Gone (Harley)

Since I turned 24 around 50 years ago, I’m happy to report that that there have been plenty of good days since then…

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 

  1. Sale Or Return (remix) [Harley]

This song about rock ‘n’ roll casualties changed my life in a number of ways, not all of them good. But it did (along with ‘Thomas Anderson’) start people (including me) thinking of me as a writer rather than a performer. Not that I saw much fame and fortune either way. A remixed version of a track from one of my demo albums.

Mister can I carry your bags?
We took the same road and we both paid the fare
Buddy can I carry your axe?
We started out right and I know you still care
And hey, can I carry your load?
At least you still look like you’re bound somewhere

I’ve talked to the hero who knew he was hip
Who got too heavy to loosen his grip
Who sold out his name to some strange ego trip
And I know the glass eye looking into itself
The fly blown in amber trapping dust on the shelf
Conversations that tailed into stony silence

I’ve seen how it is twisted out of the frame
By the mythical muse that warps and maims
A half-human soul into implacable aims
And I’ve known a hero we all knew of old
Who sold out his share of the silver and gold
And still he can’t tune out the gall in his soul

So it’s down to the Tranny and the travelling band
But somewhere we drew blank, something better we planned
Is gone with the smithy and the shantyman
So I sat and I drank and I listened to you
Then I drank some more while the beat soaked through
But I guess I just drank off my blue suede shoes

And I know how it is kicking themes into shape
In sleep-bleeding hours between two working days
And I’m not here to say you should make that mistake
No, there’s no point in crossing the bridges we burned
But a few bands ago we talked in no terms
Of sale or return

  1. Ice To The Flame (Harley)

Not at all the sort of song I usually write, but it comes from a particularly stressful period in the 1970s. And that’s all I’m going to say about that…There is another version on one of my demo albums: this is better recorded, but I might go for a fuller arrangement at some point.

Turn to the morning and trust to the dawn
With the sun in your face take the chance to be born
Leave all the leavings that time has outgrown
Turn to the morning and trust to the dawn

Ice to the flame, the sun to the rain
I am Life, I am Death, and Love is my name

Wind on the water, a blight on the heart
The fall of the dice and the turn of the card
Axe to the tree, the scythe to the corn
Turn to the morning and trust to the dawn

Ice to the flame, the sky to the sea
All is One and All is in me

Tongue to the bell, an end to the start
Trust to time, lend an ear to your heart
Wax to the candle and brass to the horn
Turn to the morning and trust to the dawn

Ice to the flame, the sun to the rain
I am Life, I am Death, and Love is my name

Rust to the sword, an edge to the blade
The Healer, the Scourge, the Price to be Paid
Love is the Singer and Love is the Song
Turn to the morning and trust to the dawn

Ice to the flame, the sky to the sea
All is One and All is in Me

Blood on the dagger, a fire in the veins
The sweet and the bitter, rainbow and rain
The Knight and the Jester, the Queen and the Pawn
Turn to the morning and trust to the dawn

Ice to the flame, the sun to the rain
I am Life, I am Death and Love is my name

10. Bread And Circuses (Harley)

A song written in the 1980s (the lyrics, anyway) about the conflict Jorge Luis Borges described as “a fight between two bald men over a comb.” As you might have gathered, I don’t do *“my country right or wrong.” These verses were originally interleaved with verses telling a story about the breakdown of a marriage. When I revisited the song recently, that didn’t seem such a good idea, but the other verses may well appear as a separate song, provisionally called ‘Rifts’.

The lads are on the march again: adrenaline is surging
Through the arteries of power
The gutter press is snarling, waving flags and beating chests,
From the safety of its concrete Dockland towers
The price of bread is escalating and the jobs are getting scarce,
But the circuses get bigger every year
If we lose the World Cup, God will give us back the Falklands
Before the latest Royal new-born appears

In the Corridors of Power, the game is Battleships:
Sink a few and lose a few – that’s Diplomacy
The body count gets higher, the planes and ships get fewer
The bereaved on both sides might agree
That the game’s not worth the candle standing by a single coffin
But there’s so much more at stake than death or life
There’s property and cash and oil and mineral rights
And loss of face, and patriotic pride.

The bombs and missiles blossom, and the gunfire pounds and pounds
The ears of friend and foe
The Belgrano and the Santa Fe, the Sheffield and Sir Tristram
Death by death the roll of honour grows
Till the fighting fizzles out in bitter winter gales
Far too late for so many mothers’ sons
The guns have fallen silent, but the words are bayonet-sharp
And the propaganda war goes on

The hawks are praising God across the tombstones of the dead
A service is attended by the Queen
The Prime Minister spits blood because a timid man of God
Recalls the dead on both sides in ‘victory’
Peace in the South Atlantic; a bombing in Hyde Park
Bloody warfare in the Lebanon
We press on to self-destruction: even as this one war ends
The killing still goes on and on and on

* https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/my_country,_right_or_wrong  

  1. From An Old Tin Cup (Harley)

A curiously old-fashioned song. The words have been hanging around for at least 30 years, and I can’t remember what prompted them, but I was quite pleased to find them again.

I’ve got this feeling that can’t be bad
I’ve seen the end of feeling sad
Thanking fate for a little luck
Drinking life from an old tin cup

I had this dream that by and by
My time would come for living high
Eyes wide open for the best way up
To drinking life from a golden cup

But that’s all changed since you found your way
Back into my heart where you used to stay
Thanking fate for a little luck
Still drinking life from an old tin cup

There was sweet wine I used to sip
Now I need the taste of your honey lips
Thanking fate for a little luck
Drinking life from an old tin cup

One fine morning, pretty soon
We’ll set sail on a poor man’s honeymoon
Thanking fate for a little luck
And drinking life from an old tin cup

  1. Thou Art My Lute (Dunbar-Harley)

Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872 –1906), the son of parents who were slaves in Kentucky before the Civil War, was better known in his lifetime for writing dialect poetry and prose, but in recent years his more literary writing has attracted more attention and respect. Maya Angelou borrowed a line from  his poem ‘Sympathy’ for the title of her autobiography ‘I know why the caged bird sings’.

 It is not a carol of joy or glee,
But a prayer that he sends from his heart’s deep core,
But a plea, that upward to Heaven he flings –
I know why the caged bird sings!

 For my setting of ‘Thou Art My Lute’ I’ve used a consciously archaic arrangement to suit the tone of the poem.

Thou art my lute, by thee I sing,—
My being is attuned to thee.
Thou settest all my words a-wing,
And meltest me to melody.

Thou art my life, by thee I live,
From thee proceed the joys I know;
Sweetheart, thy hand has power to give
The meed of love—the cup of woe.

Thou art my love, by thee I lead
My soul the paths of light along,
From vale to vale, from mead to mead,
And home it in the hills of song.

My song, my soul, my life, my all,
Why need I pray or make my plea,
Since my petition cannot fall;
For I’m already one with thee! 

  1. Time On My Hands (Harley)

This one dates back to the 70s, but I don’t think I’ve ever sung it in public. Now I’ve remembered it, maybe I will.

Time on my hands
Time to think of a friend who changed one weekend
Changed to a part of me

Time to look back
Cosily stoned by the fire / getting much higher
Watching you watching me

Time and again
To think of caring for you / knowing I do
Hoping you might for me

Time on my hands
No hangups and nothing to say but “We had our day”
And the music goes on and on

  1. Whistle While You Walk (radio version) [Harley]

Another sort of blues of sorts…

Sometimes you look into her eyes / And you just want to talk
Sometimes you have to see her / Sometimes you just have to walk

Just walk away, walk away / And whistle while you walk away

Sometimes you’re the heartbreak / Sometimes you’re just broke
And all your songs are lost / In the space between the notes

Sometimes you know you love her / Sometimes you feel so cold
Sometimes your heart is empty / And you turn back to the road 

  1. End Game (Harley)

Having gone through phases of writing very long songs, I’ve also sometimes been ostentatiously terse. No doubt many people will thank me for wasting as little as possible of their time. (I’ve always liked short-short stories, too, but I haven’t been so successful at writing them.)

I’ve been looking out for zero since I don’t remember when
Praying not to draw that same old blank again

But it seems at last time passing tears your paper shield apart
And love, the silver bullet, leaves its shrapnel in the heart

M’dame, M’sieur, les jeux sont faits

(c) David A. Harley – All Rights Reserved

Links to available albums

This site hasn’t really kept up with the ridiculous number of my album and single releases in the last year or two. No, I don’t expect them to keep me in my old age. If someone occasionally buys an album or even a track, that’s nice, but it’s really more about getting as many of the songs as possible out there in some reasonably structured, (hopefully) semi-permanent form. Just in case someone, sometime likes them enough to dig out the obscurities.

So here is a list of the Harley albums and singles currently available including content summaries These releases replace cassette and CD albums previously available  (which is how they come to be released in such a short timeframe), and are at present digital-only releases. Right now, some of them are still only available from Bandcamp, but I’m working on that.  Some may be the basis in due course for multi-media projects: for instance, I’m currently working on a music and verse project that will draw on some of the instrumental tracks from Back In Free Fall and Still In Free Fall, and an expanded multi-media version of Tears of Morning. The list below is just a barebones list of releases. (The links here are to the Bandcamp albums – the Available Albums link includes further links to other sources such as Apple Music.

  • Strictly Off The Record‘ and ‘Further Off The Record‘ are slightly different ‘greatest hits’ collections. Admittedly I don’t actually have any hits, but these are the tracks/songs that have been listened to most, or have had radio play, or get asked for during live performances, or that other performers have expressed an interest in learning. They’re a good place to start (and finish, in most cases…) as they include 20 or so songs that are a pretty good cross-section of my better recordings.
  • Moonflow VI was the first single. It’s an extended version of an instrumental included on Tears of Morning.
  • Tears of Morning is a collection of songs with a Shropshire connection, including settings of verse by A.E. Housman and ‘W.H.B.’
  • The single One Step Away (From The Blues) is one of a handful of tracks recorded for an album by Bob Theil, Don MacLeod, Pat Orchard, Bob Cairns and myself in the 80s. Unfortunately, the album was never released.
  • The EP ‘View From The Top‘ features Don MacLeod, and consists of songs we perform (occasionally!) as a duo, written by us individually or together.
  • The EP ‘Hands of the Craftsman‘ consists of songs and verse from the 1980 review ‘Nice…If You Can Get It’, directed by Margaret Ford, for which I wrote most of the original music.
  • The Game Of London‘ consists of stories in song of the city in which I spent some 25 years of my life.
  • Ten Percent Blues‘ has tracks that mostly have a touch of blues, including a look back or two at my very short career on the road.
  • The single: ‘How To Say Goodbye‘ is the song with which I considered embarrassing my daughter at her wedding. 🙂
  • Dinosaur Tracks‘ are mostly of demo quality, quite a lot leaning towards blues.
  • Cold Iron‘ puts together most of my songs of social commentary.
  • Kitsch And Canoodle‘ – songs of love, lust and obsession. Probably describes most of my current repertoire.
  • Upcountry‘ – songs with a loosely rural theme, some in a country/blues/folk idiom, plus some settings of verse by Kipling, Housman and Yeats.
  • Single: ‘Song Of Chivalry‘ – originally posted to try out a different distributor, but same version subsequently added to Bandcamp. NB this is not the same version as the one on Tears of Morning.
  • Back In Free Fall – Part 1 of a collection of instrumentals that will be the musical backbone of a music-and-poetry project.
  • Single: Back In Free Fall – a guitar piece played on my electro-classic, with a vaguely Renaissance feel.
  • Still In Free Fall – Part 2 of the instrumental collection.
  • Born To Be Mild: 1st Demo Album – first of a set of albums where the tracks are not really commercial-quality recordings, but I’m putting them out because I think the songs are better than the performances. If and when my health improves, I’ll certainly revisit some of them. The first batch is mostly my settings to verse by Housman, Kipling and Hood.
  •  The Duke Of Haphazard: 2nd Demo Album – second in the set…
  •  The Old Man Laughs – not part of the demo collection.
  • Album: Demo Album 3 – still under construction.
  • Album: Nobody’s Song – still under construction.

David A. Harley

Loveliest of Trees

Words by A.E. Housman (A Shropshire Lad II), tune traditional arranged and adapted by David A. Harley. It’s more or less the A tune from the reel ‘The Rose Tree’. At some point I’ll probably combine it with a version of the reel. Though since I’ve already exceed my three-score-and-ten, maybe not…

Taster for an album.

Backup:

Loveliest of trees, the cherry now
Is hung with bloom along the bough,
And stands about the woodland ride
Wearing white for Eastertide.

Now, of my threescore years and ten,
Twenty will not come again,
And take from seventy springs a score,
It only leaves me fifty more.

And since to look at things in bloom
Fifty springs are little room,
About the woodlands I will go
To see the cherry hung with snow.

David Harley

The ‘Further Off The Record’ album

Not my most recent album, but you might call this my Greatest Hits album, if I’d ever had any hits. It does include the four tracks released so far as singles, though, and most of the tracks are remixed and/or remastered. In fact, these are all songs that have attracted airplay in the UK and/or US, been requested at live events, or had significant numbers of plays where streamed or available in various video and audio formats. And anyway, I like ’em!

Available from Apple Music, Spotify, iTunes etc.  (Link includes excerpts from all tracks.) PR and lyric sheets here: Further Off The Record. See also Strictly Off The Record, on Bandcamp, with an extra track!

Continue reading “The ‘Further Off The Record’ album”

New album – ‘Upcountry’

The album ‘Upcountry‘ combines songs that lean towards Americana, blues and even country with more ‘traditional’ material including settings of verse by Housman, Kipling and Yeats, plus a couple of songs about Cornwall, where I now live. All songs by me except where noted.

1. A Smuggler’s Song (Kipling-Harley) 03:14
2. Wearing Out My Shoes 02:26
3. This Guitar (Just Plays The Blues) 02:17
4. Cornish Ghosts 03:39
5. Hannah’s Gone Upcountry 03:44
6. The Road To Frenchman’s Creek 03:27
7. Whistle While You Walk 03:53
8. Janey 03:22
9. Gooseberry Blues 01:48
10. Aftermath/Postcards 05:29
11. Anywhere 03:12
12. A Rainy Day Blues 02:24
13. Tears of Morning (Housman-Harley) 02:46
14. The Wild Swans at Coole (Yeats-Harley) 06:33
15. The Pilgrim (Yeats-Harley) 02:24
16. Woods In Moonlight 05:22

 

Sarah McQuaid – album launch and Cornish gigs

As this isn’t a commercial site, I don’t usually recycle press releases, but the launch of Sarah McQuaid’s new album and two other gigs locally will interest an awful lot of people hereabouts. I’m certainly looking forward to hearing the whole album.

Benefit Gig in St Buryan Church Marks Launch Of New Album By Cornwall-Based Singer-Songwriter Sarah McQuaid

The new solo album by award-winning Cornwall-based singer/songwriter Sarah McQuaid will be launched on 15 October with a very special benefit concert in – and for – St Buryan Church, where the album and its accompanying video series were recorded and filmed.

Born out of the pandemic, The St Buryan Sessions is Sarah’s sixth solo album, and is her most powerful and emotive offering yet. It had its genesis in the spring of 2020, when Sarah’s gigs and tours were cancelled due to COVID-19.

Thanks to a successful crowdfunding campaign, she was able to finance a live solo recording (sans audience) in the lovely medieval church of St Buryan, not far from her home in rural West Cornwall.

“I’ve been living in St Buryan for fourteen years now,” Sarah explains, “and it’s been incredibly heartwarming how my family and I have been welcomed into the life of the village. I kind of thought when we first moved here that we’d be shunned as ‘blow-ins’, but that hasn’t been the case at all, and I’m so grateful.

“I’m also incredibly grateful to have had the opportunity to record the new album in such a gorgeous space, and I really wanted to be able to give something back.”

The launch takes place on the album’s worldwide release day, Friday, October 15. In order to make it accessible for all in the local community, no entrance fee will be charged, but there will be a voluntary retiring collection for church funds.

“We are absolutely thrilled,” says churchwarden Fiona Vinnicombe. “The Parochial Church Council is hugely indebted to Sarah for suggesting the concert in aid of maintaining our wonderful historical building as well as its work and ministry within the community.

“We’ve recently completed the renovation of the tower, along with the installation of a kitchen area and toilet so that the whole community can use and benefit from this magnificent building in the centre of the village.

“This project cost us £180K, which was all funded by grants, donations and many fundraising events. Apart from these major projects, we need to raise £900 every month just to pay our utility bills and general expenses for running the church.

“We are always so grateful for any help we can get, and particularly from a performer of such high calibre.”

Two further Cornwall dates feature later in the six-week, 21-date tour that follows the launch: Praa Sands Community Centre on Saturday 30 October and Sterts Studio near Liskeard on Sunday 28 November.

Conceived as a concert set and including such fan favourites as “In Derby Cathedral”, “The Sun Goes On Rising” and “Yellowstone”, the album is a journey not only through a wide range of instrumentation and styles, but also through the spectrum of emotions that Sarah evokes in her performance and invokes in the listener.

Sensitively captured by her longtime sound engineer and manager, Martin Stansbury, with the aid of ambient microphones placed throughout the church, the sound of Sarah’s voice and music soars through the stunning acoustic space as she moves between acoustic guitar, piano, electric guitar and floor tom drum, performing songs that span her 24-year career – from “Charlie’s Gone Home”, originally recorded on her 1997 debut album When Two Lovers Meet, to electric guitar based pieces from her most recent studio album If We Dig Any Deeper It Could Get Dangerous.

Two previously unrecorded covers feature on the album: the classic jazz standard “Autumn Leaves”, on which she demonstrates the full dynamic range of her lush, distinctive voice, and a cover of “Rabbit Hills”, written by her dear friend (and past producer) Michael Chapman.

This second piece was commissioned by Michael’s wife as a gift for his 80th birthday and sees Sarah at the beautiful grand piano that resides in the church, her compelling, heartfelt delivery revealing the depth of her immersion in the rich imagery of Chapman’s evocative lyrics.

“I’m particularly indebted to the St Buryan Male Voice Choir for giving me permission to use their gorgeous Yamaha concert grand for the recording,” adds Sarah. “It was left to them in a bequest and it’s such a fantastic instrument to play. I wish I could take it on tour with me!”

The recording was filmed by Cornish filmmaker and director Mawgan Lewis of Purple Knif with the aid of Eden Sessions veteran camera operator John Crooks. The fruits of their work can be seen on Sarah’s YouTube channel – https://youtube.com/sarahmcquaid — where Lewis’ 9-minute documentary “The Making Of The St Buryan Sessions”, featuring interviews and song snippets, can also be viewed, along with a 59-second promo video about the album and tour.

The St Buryan Sessions is now available to pre-order via https://sarahmcquaid.bandcamp.com on CD and limited-edition blue vinyl double LP, together with T-shirts, tea towels, tote bags, ultra-limited-edition test pressings, and the full concert film on a 16GB engraved wooden USB stick, all bearing Sarah’s original artwork.

A six-week UK-wide tour will follow the album launch and continue through the end of November. Sarah’s 2022 tour plans include the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, Denmark, Ireland and the USA. See https://sarahmcquaid.com/tour for details of all shows.

High-resolution photos and album cover artwork are available for download from https://sarahmcquaid.com/media-kit – also see https://sarahmcquaid.com/about for full biog. Download links for the album (including a 12-page PDF booklet with credits and other information) and hard copy CDs are available on request.

Contacts:

Sarah McQuaid: <sarah@sarahmcquaid.com>, Tel. +44 1736 810807
Martin Stansbury: <management@sarahmcquaid.com>, Tel. +44 7977 470498

See https://www.stburyanchurch.org.uk for contacts and further information about St Buryan Church.

New album – Kitsch and Canoodle

Available, as ever, on Bandcamp.

Kitsch and Canoodle

David A. Harley

Songs of love, lust and obsession. Come to think of it, that probably accounts for my entire output.

All vocals and instruments by David A. Harley. Words and music for all songs by David A. Harley except ‘Quirks and Crotchets’, for which Alan Doyle wrote the tune, and ‘Back in the Day’, for which Alison Pittaway wrote the lyrics. Cover photograph by Jude Harley.

  1. Let Me Lie Easy
  2. A Rainy Day Blues
  3. Please
  4. Quirks and Crotchets (Doyle-Harley)
  5. This Guitar Just Plays The Blues 2021
  6. Her Own Way Down
  7. Back In The Day (Pittaway-Harley)
  8. This End of the 1960s
  9. Can’t Sleep
  10. Never Look Back
  11. New Ends and Sad Beginnings
  12. Two Is A Silence
  13. The Jailer
  14. What Do I Do?
  15. Song Without Warning

Wheal Alice Music WAM21-11

New album – Cold Iron

Yes, I know it’s not a good sales strategy to put out so many albums so close together, but I’m trying to get this stuff out there, and not really expecting to make my fortune at this time of my life.

All music by David A. Harley. The author of the 18th century lyric to ‘They Hang The Man’ is unknown, and the words to ‘Nowhere to Nowhere’ were written by Alison Pittaway. Piano on ‘London 1983’ by James Bolam. All vocals and other instruments by David A. Harley.

All rights reserved.

Here’s the album: Cold Iron

And here’s the track ‘For Phil Ochs’ which is in a way the foundation stone of the album:

Anyway, here are what would be the sleeve notes if I was releasing it as a physical album.

I suppose you could say that all songs are ‘social comment’ – I don’t care for the term ‘protest’ since I associate it with the 1960s phenomenon of well-fed pop singers whining about plastic people and how awful everything is – but I’ve always leaned towards songs that weren’t exclusively about ‘my girl friend left me’.. Still, I never felt I had to distinguish between ‘love songs’ – perhaps we should say songs about people and their relationships – and songs with a wider topical resonance. If a song demands to be written, I don’t take no notice because it’s in the ‘wrong’ genre or context.

Still, I had some difficulty in placing a couple of the songs in this collection because they’re ‘folkier’ – OK, acapella – than most of my output. So I finally went for an album of songs that fit together because they’re more about social comment and less about personal relationships (fictional and otherwise). That doesn’t, of course, mean they don’t fit into other contexts. Some have already been released on other albums, and others are likely to be in the future.

The album’s title comes from a poem by Kipling, though his conclusion in that poem, and indeed his politics in general, often diverge from my own convictions. On the other hand, I think he would have agreed with the relationship between iron as a foundation of weaponry and iron as a symbol or element of the supernatural.

Gold is for the mistress — silver for the maid —
Copper for the craftsman cunning at his trade.
“Good!” said the Baron, sitting in his hall,
“But Iron — Cold Iron — is master of them all.”

And here’s the tracklist.

  1. London 1983 (Harley) 06:28
  2. They Hang The Man (Anonymous-Harley) 01:43
  3. Song of Chivalry II (Harley) 03:58
  4. Nowhere To Nowhere (Pittaway-Harley) 02:11
  5. Soldier (You Come, You Go) (Harley) 01:06
  6. Long Stand (Harley) 03:00
  7. Orpheus and his Loot (Harley) 01:51
  8. For Phil Ochs (Harley) 05:35
  9. Calvary (Soldier of Fortune) (Harley) 01:30
  10. Paper City (Harley) 05:25
  11. Hands of the Craftsman (Harley) 05:35
  12. Jerry Jingalo (Harley) 01:06
  13. Circle (Harley) 08:14
  14. Diane (Going Out) (Harley) 05:19
  15. Paper Tiger (Harley) 02:37

 

David Harley