Old White Lightning demo (revisited)

[backup]

Ancient version remastered (somewhat). I don’t currently sing this one, but if I did these are probably the words I’d use.

I went down to see my lady
But someone spread the news all over town
I said ‘I don’t mind what you call me,
But won’t you keep your sweet voice down?’
Might have been old white lightning
Might have been old sloe gin
Might have been barley, or it might have been malt
But it’s really done me in

If I go back to see my lady
I know just where she’s at
She’s got an ice-pack for my aching head
And an ice-pick for my back
Might have been old Sal Stacey
Might have been Lucy-Lynne
Might have been Lisa, might have been Liz
But she really did me in

I think I’ll steer my feet to the river
Marking time to the thump in my head
I think I might just die of too much wine
And it’ll save you changing the bed
Might have been smack or cocaine
Petrol or paraffin
Might have been Bostik or North Sea gas
But I swear it’s done me in

David Harley

New Album – Dinosaur Tracks

Hat tip to Ken Bechtel, who for some reason suggested that ‘Dinosaur Tracks’ would be a suitable title for a Harley album. Be that as it may, the album is now available on Bandcamp.

Here’s an MP3 the track that’s featured on Bandcamp: ‘Butterfly’

Dinosaur Tracks cover art

When I started to do many more of my own songs, back in the 1970s, much of my repertoire was blues-based, and my own songs reflected that bias, including most of the songs here. The performances here are mostly demo-quality, mostly taken from cassettes rather than studio performances, but the fingers and the voice were generally in better shape than they are nowadays. The guitar in particular is generally pretty decent on these tracks. And while I’m less blues-oriented nowadays, I think these songs fit quite nicely into the genre, and my opinion is, of course, quite unbiased.

These are all ‘live’ recordings with no overdubs except for the lead break on ‘Lady Luck’ and the slide on ‘This Guitar Just Plays The Blues’. All the songs are mine, and all the guitars and vocals are  me.

1. Butterfly (Over The Hill)
2. Southside
3. Bootup Blues
4. Wearing Out My Shoes
5. Stranger In Uniform
6. Sylvie (Letting go)
7. This Guitar Just Plays The Blues
8. Scratch One Lover
9. Low In The Water
10. Soleares
11. Lady Luck
12. Drunk Last Night
13. Odd Job Man
14. Down To The River

Released July 12, 2021

David Harley

A Rainy Day Blues revisited

Backup:

A Rainy Day Blues (Harley) – all rights reserved

Some days are like a melody
But I can’t seem to hold the key
I don’t mind losing
I just wish I had a little more to lose

So I spend my day trying to keep  myself amused
Sitting here picking at a rainy day blues
I don’t mind losing
I just wish I had a little more to lose

It seems the road to fortune never ends
You play God all week and golf at weekends
I don’t mind losing
I just wish I had a little more to lose

And if we quit the rat-race we could have a ball
But you know those big wheels grind so small
I don’t mind losing
I just wish I had a little more to lose

You say you love me but it seems sometimes
You stuff my mouth with kisses and my ears with lies
I don’t mind losing
I just wish I had a little more to lose

David A. Harley

Pick My Pocket [demo]

A different arrangement for an old blues-y thing. The other version here uses open D, but this one is just a dropped D tuning. By the way, the reference to ecstasy here is nothing to do with MDMA (I don’t think I’d heard of the drug at that point). I found the extra verse below at the weekend: not sure I’ll keep it, as it doesn’t seem quite in tune with the others. Anyway, I didn’t sing it this time round.

Pick My Pocket (Harley)

Got no fare
For a boat or plane
I got shoes to walk
But I’m here just the same
Buddy, you can pick my pocket
Got no greens to lose
Just a handful of empty
And a head full of blues

I keep looking for a highway
I can make it down alone
With every hobo, sewer rat
And rolling stone
Buddy, you can pick my pocket
Got no greens to lose
Just a handful of empty
And a head full of blues

[I keep on thinking
Just how nice it might feel
To wake up two days older
Hypnotized by burning wheels]

I’ve got a new way of spelling
Ecstasy
E is for Exit
And the rest is blowing free
Buddy, you can pick my pocket
Got no greens to lose
Just a handful of empty
And a head full of blues
Just a hat full of empty
And a guitar full of blues

 

‘Ten Percent Blues’ Album

Now available (and listenable) at Bandcamp.

1. Make It Pay 01:30
2. Butterfly (Over The Hill) 03:43
3. The Road 03:13
4. Anywhere 03:12
5. Ten Percent Blues 03:42
6. Now How Long 03:45
7. Blues For Davy 02:01
8. Baby What A Groove 02:52
9. Another Bangor Day 04:12
10. Long Cigarettes, Cheap Red Wine 04:22
11. Moonstruck 01:30
12. Angel [demo version] 02:15
13. East River 03:07
14. Empty Sunday [demo version] 02:09

You might regard this album title as an over-extended pun. Not only does it include more blues/American-influenced material than my previous albums (though I’m not sure how to quantify the exact percentage), but it also draws some inspiration (if that’s the right word) from life on the road. Though in fact my own time as a professional musician was extremely short, and no agent was getting very fat on ten percent of my income at that time. And at this time of my life, I don’t think I’ll be spending much time playing live again, let alone living in a tour bus.

If I ever belonged to a particular ‘school’ of songwriter, it was probably that very English group that included people like Bill Caddick, Peter Bond, Bernie Parry et al. (Whatever happened to Al?) Still, looking back (as I have been a lot recently) to the songs I’ve written in the last 50-60 years, I suspect that there is enough material there for at least one more album with a fair amount of Americana influence.

Released May 19, 2021

All songs, guitars and vocals by David A. Harley

(c) all rights reserved

New Paul Cowley CD

I’m actually taking a break from music reviewing right now. However, it seems a pity not to mention good music when it comes my way:  hence my mini-review of Sarah McQuaid’s current releases – Sarah McQuaid – The St. Buryan Sessions.

And now I’ve been lucky enough to get a sneak preview of Paul Cowley’s upcoming CD Long Time Comin’, a collection of his own blues-soaked songs plus his versions of songs by Blind Boy Fuller (‘Lost Lover Blues’, a favourite of mine since the 60s), Charlie Patton, Mississippi John Hurt, Ray Charles and Blind Willie McTell. It’s another fine set of accomplished but unpretentious country blues from someone who has a deep knowledge and love of the genre. Paul’s web site is here, and he’s been reviewed several times (twice by me, with enthusiasm!) on folking.com. And here’s a video by way of a taster: ‘Don’t Need Too Much‘.

David Harley

Adventures in Video – Now How Long?

The first version of this goes back to the late 60s or early 70s, but I’m not sure if I ever performed it in public. An attempt to write something blues-y that wasn’t a 12-bar.

Audio capture:

Backup:

Heard some lonesome whistle blow
How long Lord?
I guess it must be time to go
How long?
When you get those hard luck blues
All you need is walking shoes
How long Lord?
Now how long?

Empty pockets, empty bed
How long Lord?
Empty dreams in an empty head
How long?
When you get those walking blues
Radio just plays bad news
How long Lord?
Now how long?

When you feel those cold winds blow
How long Lord?
You know the way you have to go
How long?
Thought I heard the DJ say
Got no reason left to stay
How long Lord?
Now how long?

Standing by the railroad track
How long Lord?
Heading out with no way back
How long?
Waiting in the pouring rain
Must have missed that Gospel Train
How long Lord?
Now how long?

Adventures in Video: Wearing Out My Shoes

audio capture:

Backup:

There’s no future in singing the blues
I guess I’ll leave, I’ve got nothing to lose

Wearing out my shoes, walking away from you
And if I can’t walk, I guess I’ll fly – bye-bye…

I went down to the depot, looked up on the board
It said “good times here, but better down the road”

Wearing out my shoes, walking away from you
And if I can’t walk, I guess I’ll fly – bye-bye…

I’m going down to the crossroads, my cap in my hand
Looking for a woman that’s looking for a man

And wearing out my shoes, walking away from you
And if I can’t walk, I guess I’ll fly – bye-bye…

Old White Lightning

Words & Music (c) David Harley

Backup:

Alternative version:

Backup:

Old White Lightning

I went down to see my lady
But someone spread the news all over town
I said “I don’t mind what you call me
But won’t you keep your sweet voice down?”
Might have been old white lightning
Might have been old sloe gin
Might have been brandy and it might have been Scotch
But it’s really done me in

[break]

If I go back to see my lady
I hope she won’t have all my cases packed
I need an ice pack for my aching head
Not an ice pick for my back
Might have been old Sal Stacey
Might have been Lucy-Lyn
It might have been Lisa or it might have been Liz
But she really did me in

Alternative version found on an old work tape, including the elusive third verse but no lead break has been added yet:

I went down to see my lady
But someone spread the news all over town
I said ‘I don’t mind what you call me,
But won’t you keep your sweet voice down?’
Might have been old white lightning
Might have been old sloe gin
Might have been barley, or it might have been malt
But it’s really done me in

If I go back to see my lady
I know just where she’s at
She’s got an ice-pack for my aching head
And an ice-pick for my back
Might have been old Sal Stacey
Might have been Lucy-Lynne
Might have been Lisa, might have been Liz
But she really did me in

I think I’ll steer my feet to the river
Marking time to the thump in my head
I think I might just die of too much wine
And it’ll save you changing the bed
Might have been smack or cocaine
Petrol or paraffin
Might have been Bostik or North Sea gas
But I swear it’s done me in

 

When the next wave breaks

Words & Music (c) David Harley

Backup:

 

Pretty much made up as I went along, so I’ll probably be doing more work on it.

When the Next Wave Breaks 

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