Alison Pittaway & David Harley

Alison Pittaway and I were once part of the team that ran the Jackson’s Lane folk club in Highgate, but only started writing together long after we’d both left London (for entirely different parts of the country).  On these, the words are Alison’s and the tunes are mine (or, in the case of ‘Raggle Taggle Man’, my variation on a traditional tune). There may be more in due course, but I have a heck of a backlog of lyrics/verse/prose, and I’m a slow writer…

The first recording in each case is a recently remastered version, the ‘older mix’ is currently hosted on another blog and will probably be replaced there with the same file eventually. Right now it’s just there as a backup.

Nowhere to Nowhere (Pittaway-Harley)

I suppose you’d expect old folkies to be sceptical about ‘progress’… Anyway, this song seems more relevant than ever. 😦

Birds made homeless today
The tree fellers came to take their prey
Diggers ripping up the earth
Concrete laid down for what it’s worth
From nowhere to nowhere

Green belt turned grey – why should they care?
Tainted money buys land laid bare
Shifting soil, uprooting pines
Laying down more railway lines
From nowhere to nowhere

Villages and fields torn in two
Holes in the hearts of me and you
Earth and rubble shifted load by load
Traffic chaos on the roads
From nowhere to nowhere

Meadows buried under bricks and dust
Lost to the profiteers and money lust
No more time to have our say
No time to see what went astray
From somewhere to nowhere
Nowhere to nowhere…

[Alternative version]


Back In The Day (Pittaway-Harley)

A rare outing for my electro-classic, aiming for a vaguely Brazilian feel.

I said hello / and you cracked a smile
I felt warm inside / just for a while
Just two friends / back in the day,
No need for words then / [or at least it seemed that way

We played and we laughed / as the world went spinning by
And time went faster then, / faster than we realized
There was no need for words / And no thoughts misunderstood.
You didn’t wait for an answer / And how I’d wished you would.

You’ve gone from me now, / Gone so far away.
But we were just two friends then, / Back in the day.
Oh, just two friends, / back in the day.

[Older mix]


Raggle-Taggle Man (Pittaway-Traditional-Harley)

The tune here is a variation on a tune known in the US under a number of names, including a version by Jean Ritchie of ‘Lady Isabella & The Elf Knight’ called ‘False Sir John’. The ‘flute’ is actually a Yamaha keyboard impersonating a ney (an end-blown flute common in the Middle East).

He was a raggle taggle man / In raggle taggle clothes
Reaching, reaching for the stars / As he wandered down the road

Once the world was at his feet / But then it fell apart
His friends becoming strangers / Who left him in the dark

His world was all in pieces / That he couldn’t shape at last
While the wind was blowing / Through the weeds and grass

People tried to reassure him / But still he lost all hope
And looking at his life / He knew he couldn’t cope

So home alone he went alone / And all alone he died
But everyone who knew him / Now remembers him with pride
He was so beautiful inside.

Oh raggle taggle, raggle taggle, raggle taggle man
Oh raggle taggle, raggle taggle, raggle taggle man…

[Older mix]

David Harley