- SINGLES BAR 63 – A round-up of recent EPs and singles – again, mostly by Mike Davies, but guess who reviewed Sarah McQuaid (two singles!) and Daria Kulesh’s EP?#
Immoralized in virtual print once more by the amazing Michael Hocking, during a live video set with the Kettle and Wink folks. I’d barely discovered the Friday night songwriters’ session when the world went crazy and I had to self-isolate. Ah, well… Evidently I was singing this at the time.
Last in a series of reviews for Folking.com of a series of CDs on a seasonal theme. While this one is loosely linked to summer, it’s largely focused on work and emigration issues.
I’ve been dipping in and out of UK and Irish folk music for many decades now, and am well-acquainted with most of these songs, but still found much to enjoy here.
At the time I wrote this, even being forty didn’t seem something I needed to identify with: all the other stuff seemed far, far away. So not too many biographical clues here. 🙂 In fact, I used to precede it with ‘Love Hurts’ so that you had two diversely miserable love stories together: however, I don’t think I could get away with singing ‘I’m young, I know…’ these days.
An older version with solo electric guitar.
Words and Music by David Harley, copyright 1986
Front tyre blew
A parking fine or two
Gas bill trouble
Rent is doubled
“NOW what’s wrong with you?”
I’m underpaid and overweight
So let’s go and celebrate
Who said life begins at 40?
Kids are listening
In separate heads
Kids are screaming
Dogs are howling
Milk gone bad
We’re out of bread
So I leer at typists
My seventeen year itch
I must have wasted
So much time
The other side
Bus queue blues
My head is bursting
My eyes need testing
That I snapped at you
Always saying sorry
There might be some peace sometime
The other side of 65
But would it be so hard to be
Another aging divorcee?
Last time I saw Jeannine, we lost most of our time
In the company of friends who were neither hers nor mine
Castaways in different cities, working through some breaks
Regretting our vocations, scared of making more mistakes
And we talked of where we’d been
How we’d passed the interim
Since the last time together, building up
A wall of coffee cups and cigarette ends
Keeping our last rendezvous
At least, it looks to be the last we’ll keep
The last time I saw Jeannine, we lost most of our time
Talking of ourselves in terms of once upon a time
Clinging to the wreckage of lives we’d left behind
Hoping for the miracle we lost somewhere in time
And shied away from conversation
Of ourselves but in relation
To each other, but together, building up
A wall of alibis half-spoken
And chances we were missing
At least, from here it seems we’ve missed them all
By David Harley, copyright 1973
The first line does, I suppose, invite comparison with Joni Mitchell’s ‘The Last Time I Saw Richard’, though I didn’t hear that until several years later. But I suppose you could also compare it to ‘The Last Time I Saw Paris’ or ‘Last Time He Saw Marie‘ if you really wanted, and you’d still be wrong. Personally I prefer the Mitchell song, but this has a certain nostalgic je ne sais quoi. See what I did there?
And for anyone whose interested in any biographical elements, the lady’s name wasn’t Jeannine or Richard, and it was Bangor (North Wales), not Paris.
I just realized that I also used the line ‘Last time I saw…’ in Diane. Probably Diane is the better song, and written about someone completely different. Whose name was not Diane, Richard or Jeannine.
Anyway, I promise not to use the line again. Probably.
(words and music by Don MacLeod)
[There may be an updated version of this eventually.]
I could spend my time just watching you
Seeing all the things you want to do
What you’re going through
It’s all so new, it’s strange somehow
She’s Gone (by Don MacLeod and David Harley)
All Rights Reserved
She’s gone: too bad…
And I wanted so much more
But now, too late,
I see what she was looking for
Wasn’t me at all
Just a lay-by
On the road to bigger things
Words and music by David Harley: all rights reserved
This is the preface Wilfred Owen drafted for a collection of war poems intended for publication in 1919.
“This book is not about heroes. English poetry is not yet fit to speak of them.
Nor is it about deeds, or lands, nor anything about glory, honour, might, majesty, dominion, or power, except War.
Above all I am not concerned with Poetry.
My subject is War, and the pity of War.
The Poetry is in the pity.
Yet these elegies are to this generation in no sense consolatory. They may be to the next. All a poet can do today is warn. That is why the true Poets must be truthful.
(If I thought the letter of this book would last, I might have used proper names; but if the spirit of it survives – survives Prussia – my ambition and those names will have achieved fresher fields than Flanders…)”
I quote it here because every year it seems to me that we give too much credence to
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.
I wrote this song out of disrespect. Not disrespecting those who suffer and die in battle or as a less direct result of warfare, whether or not the world called them heroes; not disrespecting those who lived on, suffering injury or the loss of loved one; but I have no respect at all for those whose ‘respect’ is founded on seeking political and commercial advantage. When I added this note in 2015, that cynical capitalization on tragedy seems, if anything, even more in evidence than it was in the 1980s.
Sleep well old man, and don’t look down from some heavenly aerie
To see the edifice we’ve built on your philosophy
The sacrificial fires below bear the devil’s mark
But it was hands a lot like yours that struck the first spark
Recently rediscovered version with some slide overdubbed.
Acoustic version recorded for Ian Semple’s show on Coast FM, but not actually used on that occasion.
And an old electric version.
Words & Music by David Harley, copyright 1987
I’ve got a woman on the Southside
Two more above the timberline
But it’s you, you, you
In my heart and on my mind
I followed you across the city
Anywhere your footprints led
But I just can’t stand to think of you
In that other man’s bed
I’m going across the river
To some bar where the lights don’t burn too bright
I might need you so bad right now
But I won’t even know your name by midnight
I’m leaving soon one morning
For any place my footsteps fall
If I can’t pay the fare
I’ll walk till I have to crawl