A very 60s-ish guitar arrangement of a traditional song. Final arrangement might be quite a lot different. Words and tune approximately as A.L. Lloyd et al. Is he (Reynardine, that is) a British outlaw, a Bluebeard, a werefox, a French outlaw? I don’t know, but he’s attracted many different theories, which I’ll maybe go into later…
Actually a very rough demo, as I was in ‘make-it-up-as-you-go-along’ mode. (The tune! The words are by Kipling, of course.) I rather like it, though, so I intend to get back to it when I’m better acquainted with it: it’ll suit a recording project I’m working on very well. According to Wikipedia, it’s a poem of 1890, but it was reprinted in Barrack-Room Ballads (1892). Also according to Wikipedia, the still-current term ‘Tommy’ or ‘Tommy Atkins’ derives from the use of the name Thomas Atkins in 19th century War Office manuals as a placeholder when describing how forms should be filled out.
I WENT into a public ‘ouse to get a pint o’ beer,
The publican ‘e up an’ sez, ” We serve no red-coats here.”
The girls be’ind the bar they laughed an’ giggled fit to die,
I outs into the street again an’ to myself sez I:
O it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ ” Tommy, go away ” ;
But it’s ” Thank you, Mister Atkins,” when the band begins to play
The band begins to play, my boys, the band begins to play,
O it’s ” Thank you, Mister Atkins,” when the band begins to play.
I went into a theatre as sober as could be,
They gave a drunk civilian room, but ‘adn’t none for me;
They sent me to the gallery or round the music-‘alls,
But when it comes to fightin’, Lord! they’ll shove me in the stalls!
For it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ ” Tommy, wait outside “;
But it’s ” Special train for Atkins ” when the trooper’s on the tide
The troopship’s on the tide, my boys, the troopship’s on the tide,
O it’s ” Special train for Atkins ” when the trooper’s on the tide.
Yes, makin’ mock o’ uniforms that guard you while you sleep
Is cheaper than them uniforms, an’ they’re starvation cheap.
An’ hustlin’ drunken soldiers when they’re goin’ large a bit
Is five times better business than paradin’ in full kit.
Then it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an` Tommy, ‘ow’s yer soul? ”
But it’s ” Thin red line of ‘eroes ” when the drums begin to roll
The drums begin to roll, my boys, the drums begin to roll,
O it’s ” Thin red line of ‘eroes, ” when the drums begin to roll.
We aren’t no thin red ‘eroes, nor we aren’t no blackguards too,
But single men in barricks, most remarkable like you;
An’ if sometimes our conduck isn’t all your fancy paints,
Why, single men in barricks don’t grow into plaster saints;
While it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an` Tommy, fall be’ind,”
But it’s ” Please to walk in front, sir,” when there’s trouble in the wind
There’s trouble in the wind, my boys, there’s trouble in the wind,
O it’s ” Please to walk in front, sir,” when there’s trouble in the wind.
You talk o’ better food for us, an’ schools, an’ fires, an’ all:
We’ll wait for extry rations if you treat us rational.
Don’t mess about the cook-room slops, but prove it to our face
The Widow’s Uniform is not the soldier-man’s disgrace.
For it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an` Chuck him out, the brute! ”
But it’s ” Saviour of ‘is country ” when the guns begin to shoot;
An’ it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ anything you please;
An ‘Tommy ain’t a bloomin’ fool – you bet that Tommy sees!
My wife also has a blog centred on our new home in Cornwall. Hers is photo-oriented, rather than music-oriented. Well, she’s the one with the posh camera. 🙂 I just thought I’d mention it. I’ll add it to the blogroll.
Written at a time when I was much more ambivalent about my religious beliefs (or the lack of them) than I am now, but I’d like to think that even the least enlightened deity or prophet might be appalled at some of the actions their followers take in their name. A version of this song was released on the Scriptwrecked cassette, but re-recorded here.
Have you seen a man choke on another man’s dream And humanity dying of shame? Have you seen a man drunk on another man’s blood And a scapegoat called Christ get the blame?
And God knows I’m no angel But then I wouldn’t claim to be Nor the gambler who lost On a hill called Calvary
Have you walked in fear of another man’s lust In the heat of a holy war That slashed the throats of the innocent The guilty and the bored?
And maybe we’re all guilty But I wouldn’t want to be The gambler who lost On a hill called Calvary
Have you seen the soldiers of fortune Fighting for names? Have you seen the fallen angels Play their whisky games?
And each one thinking He has the right to be A stand-in for the dealer Who OD’d on Calvary
This song was originally part of a set of songs I started in the 1970s but never actually finished. In those days my generation was very much preoccupied with Vietnam and its neighbours, though the story wasn’t meant to be geographically or politically specific. More about the psychology of occupation and the winning (and losing) of hearts and minds… I was very much of a generation of songwriter that was very focused on issues, he said pretentiously.
A thousand years of rape
lie easy on my body
a thousand years of blood and fear
a million miles of marching feet and refugees
bring wampum, cookies
beads and rings
trade pretty things
for my pretty thing
and death-in-life hero eyes
before you spread your epaulettes
(smoke your Luckies
drink your words
eat your candy
suck you dry)
The lyric was published in Chaff 2, 1985. A version of this was recorded for the Scriptwrecked tape, but I’ve just re-recorded it for this site.
I wrote the words (more or less) in the late 60s. The original tune was later used for something else, so I was kind of making a variation up as I went along on this demo. Of its time, but I like it. Sketch for a better version later, when I finally learn it. Hopefully without the out-of-tune lead guitar.
Marianne: Words and Music copyright David Harley, 1969
In the intimate oblivion of collusion
I see you dancing with another man
And I know that you’ll tell me it’s a really groovy scene
But I never much liked dancing, Marianne
So go take your problems to a new confessor
Perhaps he’ll listen while he holds your hand
But don’t expect him to provide you with the answers
It’s not a caseload that he’s after, Marianne
I’ve tried to talk it over as a lover
But I can’t seem to make you understand
You’re not the kind to be content with me the way I am
And I like to make my own scene, Marianne
I’ve got a little story I should tell you
How sometimes a woman needs a man
But I don’t think you even need someone to need you
And I don’t think you’d believe me, Marianne
And you tell me that I’m fettered by illusions
And you’ve had all the chaining you can stand
I’d hate to be the one to block your freedom
But I’m not into two-timing, Marianne
And you’ll tell every word I say is empty
And I know that you don’t need my helping hand
I’m not the one to say I didn’t love you
But I never really liked you, Marianne
Actually a very rough demo, but there you go. Now I’ve remembered it exists, I’ll do some work on it.
Backstory: drinking with a friend in Manchester in the early 70s while both our girlfriends were out of town, making some musical plans. Seemed like a good idea at the time, but shortly afterwards he and his girlfriend got married and moved (to Wales, I think): I moved somewhere else and married someone else entirely.
Why that story got into a song when so little of my back-catalogue is strictly autobiographical, I can’t say. It seems long ago and far away. Oh. Actually, it was long ago and far away (from Cornwall, at any rate).
Blues I blew: Words and Music copyright 1975 David Harley
There we were, my buddy and me
Two grass widowers out on a spree
Between the bar and the BBC
And nowhere much to go
Plans to make a wave or two
Adding up to two plus two
No complaints of nothing to do
With another 12-bar to blow
Another place, another day
Nothing very much to say
Another song I threw away
Another blues I blew