Adventures in Video – Moonflow III

Music (c) David Harley, who played acoustic guitar, resonator guitar and electric guitars through the magic of overdubbing. Both electric guitar parts feature a Line 6 Variax. I can’t remember what guitar the first electric voice emulates, but the second was a Coral Sitar emulation. Photographs (c) Jude and David Harley: mostly from Stonehenge and York.

The recording was remixed for the video.

David Harley

Adventures in Video: ‘The Fancy Passes’

‘The Fancy Passes’ is part of a suite of settings of verse by A.E. Housman.

This one is XVIII in ‘A Shropshire Lad’.

Oh, when I was in love with you
Then I was clean and brave,
And miles around the wonder grew
How well did I behave.

But now the fancy passes by
And nothing will remain,
And miles around they say that I
Am quite myself again.

The full suite also includes an instrumental interlude followed by XIII ‘When I was one-and-twenty…’ I’m still working on a final recording of that.

This unaccompanied video version was my entry for the May 2020 Trad2Mad competition held by Islington Folk Club. It didn’t win, but that’s unsurprising, given the very high standard of singing that I generally associate with that club. Unfortunately, I’ll probably never get to play there again, given that I’m the wrong side of 70 and living in Cornwall…

David Harley

A Rainy-Day Blues revisited

Words and Music (c) David Harley

A cleaner recording than the previous audio version.

And here’s a video, this time played on electric guitar.


Earlier versions:

This is a version with just basic guitar:

This is the same version with some overdubbed bouzouki: an instrument I’ve only recently added to my arsenal, so not very well executed, but I think it might go quite well with a bit of work. Maybe different lead instruments for each break…

And here’s a more recent version, slightly rearranged.

David Harley

Adventures in Video (8)

A song I wrote some time ago, but may have acquired particular resonance during the Covid-19 lockdown. I’ve put up an audio version here previously, but I’ve changed the structure slightly, and more or less learned the tune now. I’ll have to take another run at the audio version anyway: the levels are a bit low on this video – I’m still trying to find the best setup for video in my tiny office/studio.

The Jailer (Harley) 

The train will soon be leaving
And the man says ‘all aboard’
But you never leave the platform
And you never cut the cord

Most days you think of leaving
But he’ll always talk you round
His words will talk you into silence
And his arms will hold you down

You need so much to leave him
But there’s no one you can phone
There’s no ticket in your pocket
And you’ve no money of your own

Sometimes he tells you that you’re stupid
Sometimes he tells you that you’re ill
You dream of breaking free
And yet you don’t believe you will

He knows just where you are
Every moment of the day
He hears the thoughts inside your head
He owns the very words you say

He says that you’re his lover
And that’s all you’ll ever be
But you know he’s your jailer
And he’ll never set you free

Sometimes he’ll loosen your shackles
But you’re locked inside his head
And you’ve never found the way
To leave his arms or leave his bed

There’s nowhere you can go
And there’s nothing you can say
Because he knows you’ll never leave him
And that’s exactly why you stay


The train will soon be leaving
And the man says ‘all aboard’
But you never leave the platform
And you never cut the cord

(All rights reserved)

David Harley

‘Silk & Steel’ – video for Collective Aid in Penzance

Here’s the link to a video I recorded for Global Jamming St. Ives in support of Collective Aid, in Cornwall.

Here’s a link to their Just Giving page, if you care to contribute: they’re raising funds for a new van to help their operations in Northern France, supporting displaced people in Calais, Dunkirk and the Balkans.

Words and Music (c) David Harley

Here’s an MP3 recorded at Centre Sound, London, in the 1980s.

And here are the lyrics.

Rapid-fire repartee, quicksilver conversation
Tongues that stroked and struck, caressed and clashed.
I remember all too well the arching of your eyebrows
When you pruned my self-importance when you saw that I’d been rash
And left my lines over-extended, and my flanks undefended:
Tactically, I never could compete with you.
But you always held back from the coup de grâce
So finally you met your Waterloo.

In the long years since I left you, I could never quite forget
Through all those other beds and battlefields.
It’s been so long since we crossed blades, and I forget the finer shades
Of the skirmishes where we laid steel to steel.
But the silk of your caress, and your blazing red-haired temper
Left a scar that never really did quite heal.
Like your after-midnight tenderness: somehow across the years
I never quite pull free of silk and steel
And I never quite cut free of silk and steel.

Silk and Steel is actually a type of guitar string with silk wound round steel. The song isn’t about guitar strings…

(Why would you use strings like that? Because they’re a bit easier on the fingers, though the tension is quite different to what you find on nylon strings, so the tone isn’t any more ‘classical’. In my experience, they didn’t last very well, so I didn’t use them for long.}

David Harley: vocal, acoustic guitar.

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