Long Cigarettes, Cheap Red Wine

This is a very old song (early 1970s) I keep revisiting. Old in years, but perhaps not in terms of maturity. This time I went back to it because Ian Semple played a version on his radio show on Coast FM (thanks, Ian!) that I’d not only forgotten I’d cut, but also couldn’t find on my laptop. This version has a slightly trimmed version of the lengthy instrumental (much more recent) with which it starts, and a different take on the actual song. It’s essentially the same track that I used on the Ten Percent Blues album, only I didn’t use the instrumental for that album.

Backup version:

Unusually for me, the guitar is in open G (which I did use a lot more in those days, but mostly for slide). I think I originally wrote it on banjo, which might explain a lot.  The instrumental might reappear on a poetry/music project.

You sing your songs, the stage is bare
There isn’t anyone out there
Sometimes it almost seems that way
And I run out of songs to play

Forget the muzak and the beer
The open mouths, the grudging cheers

There isn’t any better way
To freeload your life away

Back in 1969
I lost someone I thought was mine
That’s the price I had to pay
When I ran out of songs to play

Goodbye, old friend, I have to leave
To prove to myself that I’m still free
I’ll see you in a year or so
And buy the round you say I owe

The long cigarettes, the cheap red wine
The melodies you say are mine
If you find somewhere to be
I hope you’ll save a place for me

David Harley

New book and album

For quite a while I’ve been threatening the world with a book based on my Tears of Morning album, on which nearly all the content has a Shropshire connection, including some settings of verse by Housman. The first version went onto the back-burner when I excised one of the appendices and gave it its own book (The Vanes Of Shrewsbury), which essentially provides historical and personal commentary on Shrewsbury as illustrated by my late uncle, Eddie Parker. I then veered into other projects, including a book on Nashville tuning for guitar and a new edition of my verse collection from the 1980s Suite in Four Flats (and a Maisonette).

Now, however, the Tears of Morning book (now renamed So Sound You Sleep) is available, like the other three, as a paperback and as an eBook for Kindle.

How Sound You Sleep tells the stories behind the songs on the album Tears Of Morning, which comprises songs and settings of poetry with a (sometimes tenuous) connection to Shropshire and the Welsh Marches. Several of the poetry settings are from Housman’s ‘A Shropshire Lad’.

The book contains copious commentary and information on the historical, traditional, musical and/or biographical background to the songs and poems on the original album, especially the settings of verse by Housman. However, it also includes a lot of additional material relating to other songs and settings, in many cases with a Shropshire connection that is even more tenuous. Not all the additional Housman settings, for example, are from A Shropshire Lad.

An updated version of the original album – called So Sound You Sleep – More Tears of Morning – features many more tracks in order to reflect the content of the book. There are links to each of the tracks in the book: while I’d be very happy if you bought the album, you don’t have to buy it to listen to the individual tracks. 🙂

(All of my books – well, those that are still available, including some ancient security books – can be found here, and all my current albums are on Bandcamp.)

Thanks to Kate Morley for the cover art and to Denise Lewis of the Memories of Shropshire Facebook group for permission to use a photograph of her great-grandmother, Ellen Hughes, who told a story to the writer Ida Gandy that was the starting point for one of my songs.

David Harley

Epitaph on an Army of Mercenaries

From the forthcoming album, an expanded version of the Tears of Morning album to go with the upcoming book. I’ve recorded it before, but this version is heavily edited and remixed with copious synth.

This 1917 poem by Housman 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. I find it hard to empathise with either Housman’s or Kipling’s imperialist sympathies, but the poem does have power. I hope my arrangement does it justice.

From ‘Last Poems’, by the way, not ‘A Shropshire Lad’.


More Tears of Morning – Rain

I’ve now started uploading some tracks for the enhanced (hopefully) version of the Tears of Morning album, to go with the book – almost finished. This is one of two versions of Rain that will be added to the new version. The song is (probably) the first song I wrote and kept, from the late-ish 1960s/

This is an a cappella version, the other version will be a video capture including guitar.

Song of Chivalry revisited

This is essentially the version released on Cold Iron, but with a little trimming and remastering.  I may use it for the refurbished and expanded Tears of Morning album that will accompany the book, rather than the older non-Nashville version.

The guitar is my Baby Taylor, Nashville-strung and tuned to the Nashville version of DADGAD.

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 Azincourt
Or the madness of some holy war

The hawk is at rest on the gauntlet 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?

David A. Harley

Epitaph for an Army of Mercenaries revisited

I’ve taken a couple of passes at this setting of a Housman poem (from Last Poems). After I posted a version on one of my blogs, I came across an alternative version I’d forgotten. I didn’t like the vocal much (I never do, but I particularly didn’t like this one), but I did like the synth and guitars, so I did a little splicing and remixing (or is that slicing and dicing?). Coming back to it for a book and album project, I did some more radical slicing and dicing, and I like it much better now.

To be honest, I’m not altogether sure I feel positively about the poem, still less the ‘war to end all wars’, but the poem does have a certain power, without the naked imperialism of Kipling at his worst.

This 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”. I’m not sure how I feel about that one, either. Armies may commit atrocities, but its governments that set the context.

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

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?

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?

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

  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 on mandola. Though since my fingers already exceed my three-score-and-ten, maybe not…

[A couple of alternative arrangements (demo only) added below.]

Taster for an album.


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.

This is a version using the B-tune of ‘The Rose Tree’ for the second verse.

And this version uses the B-tune for the third verse instead.

David Harley