Empty Sunday [remastered]

Words & music by David Harley

A very old recording (from cassette, not a studio recording). Remastering has raised the volume level, but degraded the guitar slightly. One of my bluesier songs. I ought to re-record it, but it’s harder than you might think on the fingers!

Remastered version:

Backup copy:

 

Empty Sunday
Raining down on me
Empty Sunday
Raining down on me
You’re gonna drive me back
To the arms of my used-to-be

Empty Sunday
Sure can’t feel no pain
Empty Sunday
Sure can’t feel no pain
Just those blues pouring down
Like those 19 showers of rain

Empty Sunday
What d’ya come here for?
Empty Sunday
What d’ya come here for?
There’s no-one but the rain
Tapping at my door

David Harley

The Miles [demo]

The Miles (Between the City and the Heart) [Harley]

I wrote this in the 1970s, early-ish in my own 25 years in London. While I did spend much of that time in the ‘wastelands’ of West London, Lucy is not my alter ego: my spells in bedsits were by no means the worst years of my life. 🙂 I haven’t actually played it anywhere in the last 40 years that I remember, so the tune is still fluctuating a little, and I’m not quite comfy with the words yet, so still a demo.

Deep in the Underground
Two policemen were patrolling up and down
An old man swearing to himself
Sifted through some rubbish that he’d found
A busker played out fantasies until they moved him off the concourse
And wrote him out of the part
As he whistled up the steps you’d never know that he was falling
In the miles between the city and the heart

Lucy checked her A to Z while the drama was played out
Then took the exit two steps at a time
The street signs and the time and the interview ahead
Were all that occupied her mind
From the top of the steps she saw him sitting by the roadside
Picking aimless chords on his guitar
When their eyes met she knew that he was falling
In the miles between the city and the heart

That night she sat alone in her bedsit in W9
Half-aware of the TV
Determined not to fret about another wasted journey
One more already-filled vacancy
Half-hoping for the phone, even a call from home
To ease the loneliness that crept under her guard
She looked at her bare walls, afraid she might be falling
In the miles between the city and the heart

Impatiently she switched the news off
Lit one more carefully-rationed cigarette
Gave up trying to write letters, scanned some ads in Time Out
And threw the magazine down on the bed
And prayed to someone, somewhere under her breath
“If I’m falling, please don’t let me land too hard.
I can’t go back now, please save me from the wasteland
In the miles between the city and the heart.”

Hat tip to Rebecca Over, from whom I nicked the phrase ‘the city and the heart’.

Rough video version here

Adventures in Video (4) This Guitar Just Plays The Blues

This Guitar Just Plays The Blues

A trace of your scent still lingers on my pillow
And raises echoes in my memory
And I believe you’re missing me almost as much as I miss you
But I wish to God that you were here with me

The sun will surely rise on another soft blue morning
And lying in your arms is where I’ll be
With sweet dreams still in my eyes, I’ll wake and kiss your hair
But it’s a long cold night while you’re not here with me

This guitar once played for keeps, but since you changed my life
This guitar just plays for you, if that’s OK?
This guitar rang bells for losers, but there’ll be no more songs of losing
Though this guitar just plays the blues while you’re away

Words & Music (c) David Harley

Adventures in video (1) – Two Is A Silence

I’ve had this long-standing love-hate relationship with performing live. Now I can’t go to clubs/sessions/open mics, I really miss it. Of course, there are loads of sites and Facebook pages springing up where people in the same position can fill that gap in their lives, but most of them seem to want videos rather than audio. I’m not sure this suits me temperamentally: producing a decent audio recording is hard work, but I have access to reasonable gear, it doesn’t matter how bad the light is in the studio, and don’t need to start from scratch every time I fluff.  To generate a video, I either have to compromise on sound quality and forgo serious editing, or spend time and money on mastering (pun intended) a new medium. Still, I’ve put out a few quick and dirty videos, and people seem to like them. So now I’m going to try to rationalize my video output, though not necessarily in chronological order. All songs are mine unless stated otherwise.

Here’s the first – Two is a Silence.

There are two audio versions here, one with double-tracked vocals and bouzoukis.

And because I’ve slightly changed the lyrics since the more sophisticated version was recorded, here’s the lyric as I sing it now.

Two Is A Silence (Harley)

Two isn’t company, three is a crowd
Two is a silence, three is too loud
Two is a silence gets harder to break
But three always leaves one left over

Three into two isn’t good for the head
It’s no problem in math, but it’s bad news in bed
And it’s one for an ace and two for a pair
But three always leaves one left over

When we’re alone somehow he’s always there
You say it’s the same when you two are the pair
So it’s one for sorrow and two for joy

But three always leaves one left over

All the shouting is over and dead
Somehow there’s nothing much else to be said
And it’s one for the money and two for the show
But three always leaves one left over

Two isn’t company, three is a crowd
Two is a silence, three is too loud
Two is a silence gets harder to break
But three always leaves one left over

Down to the River [remastered]

Down to the River (Harley)

If I get around to a commercial recording, I’ll probably tighten up the lyric. But doesn’t sound too bad considering it was recorded in the 80s on lo-tech gear.

I won’t go down to the river
Anyway not yet
There’s too much to do and the water’s cold
And I don’t want my feet wet
I don’t want my feet wet

I won’t go down to the river
I guess I really should
But the sand’s so warm between my toes
And you know it feels so good
I know it does me good

Come on down to the river
It can’t do you harm
You’ve got to learn sometime to sink or swim
And the sun will keep you warm
The sun will keep you warm

I won’t go down to the river
You know I can’t go down
The water’s so still, the sides so steep
I’m scared that I might drown
So scared that I might drown

Come on down to the river
The road’s so hard and rough
If you keep your head and your hands are clean
Surely you can’t drown in love?
You can’t drown in love

I can’t go down to the river
I surely can’t go down
My soul is parched but my body aches
And I just know I’ll drown
I know I’ll surely drown

Come on down to the river
It tastes so sweet and cold
Come on down before it gets too late
And wash the dust out of your soul
The dust out of your soul

We’ve got to get on down to the river
We have to learn to trust
Got to wash away all the doubt and fear
Before the whole damn’ world dries up
Before the world dries up

 

Hannah (Upcountry) [demo]

Remastered version with reduced instrumentation.

There’s lightning on the skyline
But I can’t hear a sound
I used to stand for something
Now I can’t find solid ground

Tom’s gone to Hilo
And Sammy’s gone to sea
But Hannah’s gone upcountry
She wouldn’t wait for me

The wind bites like a razor
When those Easterlies veer round
The moon floats high and lonesome
Peering through the clouds

Tom’s gone to Hilo
And Sammy’s gone to sea
But Hannah’s gone upcountry
She wouldn’t wait for me

Some fell where they were standing
Some are glory bound
But Hannah’s gone to the mountains
And she’s never coming down

Tom’s gone to Hilo
And Sammy’s gone to sea
But Hannah’s gone upcountry
She wouldn’t wait for me

There’s lightning on the skyline
But I can’t hear a sound
I used to stand for something
Now I can’t find solid ground

Tom’s gone to Hilo
And Johnny’s gone to sea
But Hannah’s up the country
She wouldn’t wait for me

Yes, Hannah’s gone upcountry
She won’t even write to me

Words & music (c) 2017 by David Harley

Age of the Hero

Remixed and remastered. I recorded a version of this in Manchester in the very early 70s: that tape has gone, but I don’t think the arrangement is much different, except that it has fewer harmony overlays and a Variax pretending to be a 12-string.

Deep down I know I should forget you
Get out with my ego intact
My head knows the end of the game
Is historical fact

But my heart never quite seems to make it
I can’t seem to learn to let go
It’s a one-way ticket to nowhere
But where else to go?

I took someone else to a party
In hopes of a two-way high
And stayed for a while in search
Of an alibi

Slipped out for some air and some distance
Got to thinking and wondering and then
I wasn’t surprised to get back and find
She’d gone home with somebody else

Now I lie on my bed, my mind racing
Watching dawn seeping in from the East
And the Age of the Hero is over
I can let go of that game at least

And I wait for the future to tell me
Whether angels are still to be found
And I’m trying hard not to stop hoping
That there’s still enough love to go round

Words and music by David Harley
© 1973

Never Look Back (remastered)

Words & music (c) David Harley

We have ourselves and the moment
and can’t that be enough?
After all, we are adults
and we say that we’re in love

Surely there’s a guardian angel
to forgive us this one sin
But you lie by my side taking care not to break
this fragile web of limbs

And you never look back when you leave me
I know looking back after you
But we bleed when we slash at each other
& I’d say that was love, wouldn’t you?

And I’m sick of the ache in my mind
when you try to smile and don’t know the way
I think sometimes when I look at us both
you could almost teach me to pray

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….