I tend to regard my songs as fiction, albeit sometimes taking their starting point from my own experience or that of people around me. This one, though, actually sounds closer than is comfortable to how I often felt in my mid-20s: not the best time of my life…
The best days (Harley)
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
With the words as I more or less sing them now, and better mastered.
The Chuck Berry-Beri
I don’t feel very much like dancing
No song worth singing but the blues
I used to feel like some kind of sex bomb
Till you absconded with the fuse
I think I need a holiday
So I’m out here on a midnight cruise
I’ve got the Chuck Berry-beri
Got to get a shot of rhythm and blues
I guess there’s no time left for loving
Looking into your backyard
But back to you was just a step too far
The waves were blowing higher
We were shaking at the end of the cruise
It’s a fascinating rhythm
But I need a shot of rhythm and blues
I thought I saw your nightlight flicker
But I don’t think that anyone’s at home
I’ll call you with the news from nowhere
When I’m stranded by the side of the road
I still need a holiday
But I can’t afford another midnight cruise
Still I can’t break the habit
Need another shot of rhythm and blues
Remembered (no doubt imperfectly) from the singing of Fred Jordan, whom I met/heard many times in the 60s and 70s. I’m thinking of including this on the Housman settings project, since Fred was indeed a Shropshire Lad.
Another from my recent flurry of lyric writing and editing.
Anywhere (words and music copyright David Harley, 2019)
I could catch a bus to anywhere
And never think of missing this old town
Instead I’m sitting in a bar right here
Scared to play my last go-round
Last dream smashed and short of cash
Nursing one last beer
Hoping for a bus to anywhere
Anywhere at all but here
I could take a train to anywhere
Shake this country dirt from off my shoes
Turn my face away from nowhere
Trading up to city views
Had enough of you and all you put me through
Pretty sure you’ve had enough of me
Time to take a train to anywhere
Anywhere I know that you won’t be
I could hitch a ride to anywhere
And surely I won’t miss this empty town
Right now I’m sitting in this tired old bar
All set to play my last go-round
Last dream smashed and short of cash
Nursing one last warm beer
Maybe I can catch a ride to anywhere
Anywhere at all that isn’t here
This song was originally inspired by a very extroverted old lady I met in the late 70s, but somehow as the song developed, the backstory got darker. Which is fine by me: I’ve certainly known old people who were far more miserable than this, and one or two of them crept into the background of the story…
I really don’t need anyone else to tell me what a drag it is, thanks all the same. But if you actually like it or even have constructive suggestions, I’d be very happy to hear from you.
The Weekends [are the worst] (Harley)
The world has changed since I was born in 1902.
Two World Wars have swept away the world that we once knew:
Two brothers and three sisters , long dead and gone to earth
Our lives were often hard, but now the weekends are the worst.
My old man died just 20 years past.
His health was never good since the Kaiser had him gassed,
But in the end it was cancer that carried him off so fast
I miss him all the time, and the weekends are the worst.
You might say I was lucky, though we never had much cash,
But we had 50-odd good years, more than I’d dare to ask.
I brought up three lovely kids, though another died at birth:
I miss them all a lot, and the weekends are the worst.
I’ve a son in Melbourne, he’s been there since ’62:
I’ve never seen his wife or kids, just a snapshot or two.
My eldest died in the last lot, on a convoy to Murmansk:
It still brings tears to my eyes, and the weekends are the worst.
I’ve a daughter in Glasgow: she writes when she has time,
But that’s a long way off, and I’ve not seen her for a while.
She’s got a son in the army, just been posted to Belfast:
We worry all the time, and the weekends are the worst.
My friends are mostly dead, or else they’ve moved like me
When the street I was brought up in was pulled down in ’63.
Sixty years I’d lived there, child, girl and wife:
Sheltered housing’s not so bad but it can be a lonely life.
Especially since Jim died: we weren’t too bad at first
But now I’m on my own the weekends are the worst.
There’s the club once a week, though it’s just from seven till nine,
And since my fall they only fetch me down from time to time.
There’s my knitting and the TV, for what that might be worth,
But I miss the company, and the weekends are the worst.