Down to the river (revisited)

This demo was recorded back in the 80s, and the voice was in better shape.

More recent version, which is actually not bad (and less ambient noise):

or (backup):

Down to the River: copyright David Harley, 1981

Another example of the sort of song I never write. I’m not really sure where this one came from.

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 mud out of your soul
The mud 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

Changes [demo]

Backup copy:


Words & Music © David Harley 1974

Something’s changed
Could be me, could be you
You used to say you loved me
Now I wonder was that true?
That moving out and moving on look
Hangs heavy in your eyes…

Something old, something new
Something borrowed, something blue
Wonder what became of me and you?
Changes in the wind

There was a time
When nothing kept us apart
But something’s going down
In both our hearts
I lie awake half the night when you’re not there
Wondering who you’re with and where

One more Scotch
One more cigarette
Drinking alone
Remembering too much to forget
Missing you even when you’re in the room
Knowing you won’t be, soon

David Harley

Cornish Ghosts revisited

Now with added video:

Words & music (c) David Harley.

A song which has been nagging at me for several years, since we first knew that we were moving to the area (though it actually took a year for everything to go through). But then, it took even longer to finish the song.

Re-recorded and remastered.


Close to where I stand on Trecobben
Pilgrims walk St. Michael’s Way
Few today reach Santiago
Most will cease their journey at the Bay
The Mount is rising from the distant water
Yet barely seems an arm’s length away

Causley on the road to Marazion
Dreamed of one last summer in the Med
Sheets are dancing Morris in the wind
A buzzard slowly circles overhead
Engine houses march along the skyline
A sea fret daubs the coast in brown and red

Beyond the darkening horizons
Beyond the hills to the West
Beyond Pendeen and Cape Cornwall
The Longships founder off Lands End
Sea nymphs and mermaids pluck the heartstrings
But the bells no longer ring in Lyonesse

Around me march the ghosts of long-dead armies
Recalled among these ancient stones
The engine house beyond the farm
Still offers shelter to the crows
I watch the sun sink slowly to the West
Back into the sea from whence it rose


Trecobben is an alternative name for Trencrom Hill and the giant who is supposed to have lived there and passed the time by throwing stones at his counterpart Cormoran on St. Michael’s Mount, which can clearly be seen from the top of the hill (weather permitting).

The St. Michael’s Way is part of the network of pilgrim’s paths that converge on the pilgrim route that leads to St. James Cathedral in Santiago de Compostela. It’s believed that pilgrims and missionaries from Wales and Ireland would land at Lelant and walk overland to Marazion rather than risk sailing/rowing around Lands End.

The second verse refers to Charles Causley’s ‘The Seasons In North Cornwall’ where he talks of meeting ‘Old Summer’ on the road to Marazion.

Living around Trencrom, we’ve had lots of time to observe that the horizon is often obscured by low-lying red-brown cloud, especially when pollution levels are high.

The Longships are a series of islets a mile or so off Lands End, known for the lighthouse on Carn Bras. In Arthurian legend, the kingdom of Lyonesse was said to have bordered Cornwall but to have sunk beneath the waves between Lands End and the Scillies. Walter de la Mere’s ‘Sunk Lyonesse’ refers to Nereids playing lyres in “sea-cold Lyonesse”, while the Mermaid of Zennor has her own place in Penwith mythology.

There is a plaque on the Iron Age fort at the top of Trencrom that reads:

“This property was presented to the National Trust by Lt Col C L Tyringham, of Trevethoe in March 1946 & at his wish is to be regarded as a memorial to the men and women of Cornwall, who gave their lives in the service of their country during the two world wars. 1914 – 1918, 1939 – 1945”

There are a good many engine houses in the area, but the one beyond Trencrom Farm is the one variously known as Wheal Alice and Wheal Foxes, part of the former Trencrom Mine.

David Harley

Angel [revisited]

Recorded on domestic equipment in the 1980s, so the guitar is a bit twangy, but the vocal seems to have come out quite well – probably better than I could sing it nowadays.

Tell me something that troubles me:
When you look at me, what do you see
To take a chance on a three-time loser like me?

You talk of trusting and sometimes I do
But what makes an angel like you
Waste time on a broken-down hero like me?

I can’t believe you’d want to keep going bail
For a shop-soiled knight errant with trouble on his trail


It makes no sense that you’d want to keep going bail
For an ex-crusader with a hell-hound on this tail

Anyway when I see you again
I’ll be praying just the same
That you still have time for a three-time loser like me

 Words & Music by David Harley, copyright 1975

Two is a Silence [remastered]

Actually, remixed and remastered, with the original main vocal replaced because it was annoying me that the words were not quite as I sing them now. Vocals, guitar and bouzoukis by me: I can’t blame anyone else.

Words and music (c) David 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

David Harley

Backup version


Highway Fever (alternative demo)

Backup copy:


Words and music (c) David Harley

Those easy-action formulae lie easy in my mouth
Down streets I walked for ever while my head was blowing South
That same old highway fever keeps burning up my socks
The river keeps on running, I’ve been too long on the rocks

All along the waterfront the chance is lost and found
I’m halfway back to nowhere but my head is outward bound
I’m on the run, my head is free, my cover has been blown
And still I hate to sing these backstage blues alone

Out beyond the fences windswept trees lay down to die
But I’m staring into limbo as the 19.10 rolls by
And I’m weary to my bones of scavenging for dreams
I’d give my second-best guitar for an unread magazine

I’m weary to my soul and home is far away
Racing into sunrise and another Northern day
I wish I’d half a chance of another drink or two
This train moves too fast, and it’s bringing me to you

Here’s an earlier version that goes straight into the old blues standard ‘Vestapol’.

Backup copy:

And this version experiments with a rather different arrangement.

Backup copy:

David Harley