Illustration ‘Looking West from Mitchell’s Fold’ by David Harley
This is a selection of tracks, most of which were recorded at CentreSound in the 1980s and appeared on one of the cassette LPs Sheer Bravado and ScriptWrecked. ‘Diane (Going Out)’ and ‘Blues For Davy’ also appeared on Sheer Bravado but were recorded live. These were briefly available as a CD, and perhaps will be again. 🙂
David Harley: vocals; acoustic/electric/slide guitars.
All Words and Music © David Harley
Long Stand is partly about the curious custom of ‘hazing’ apprentices by sending them off for ‘a long stand’ or ‘a can of striped paint’, partly about being young and unemployed.
Although there’s a song of Sting’s called ‘Skyhooks And Tartan Paint’ that has a strangely similar first verse, ‘Long Stand’ was originally written for the revue Nice (If You Can Get It), in the very early 1980s, a good 30 years before Sting’s The Last Ship project. The whole revue (directed by Margaret Ford) – or at any rate most of the parts of it I contributed – can be found here: Nice (If You Can Get It) – Revue.
‘Ten Percent Blues’ is a kind of farewell in the 70s to a not-very-lucrative living as a professional musician. Though I have to say that my career at that point was even less glamorous than that described here. I really don’t do raw autobiography.
‘Hands of the Craftsman’ is also from the Nice (If You Can Get It) – Revue. It’s about the way in which so many crafts have been eclipsed by automation and computerization. At the time I wrote it, I was a wood-machinist. Not many years later, I embarked on a career in IT that took me through the next 30-odd years, so you could say that I exemplified the shift from making real things to Doing Things With Data. Not that data (and data protection, which is what I was engaged in for most of that time) should be regarded as valueless, but…
‘Death of a Marriage’ isn’t strictly autobiographical, but maybe too much so for comfort.
‘Diane/Going Out’ was recorded on home equipment. It reflects both a long-gone relationship and my brief career in psychiatric nursing.
‘Silk & Steel’ is a companion piece to ‘Diane’. Obviously, it’s not about guitar strings…
‘Paper City’ is more in line with my more recent output, though a bit rockier than most of my songs. It’s a cheerful little ditty about the decline of capitalism in a global economy founded on instability and fiction. So different to the world today. Oh, wait a minute…
As Brexit and oligarch-friendly pre-fascism continue to bite around the world, it feels in parts very contemporary. This is one of the very few songs of mine that I got to sing with The Flying Piglets. But that’s a whole different story…
‘Coasting’ is one of my rare excursions into quasi-jazz. I tend to do it faster now and with jazzier vocal phrasing, and I should record it properly one day. However, I like this straightforward version as well, and my voice was in better shape then.
‘Circle’ is a long song about how war and terrorism dehumanize individuals. I wouldn’t write a song this way now, but maybe that’s because as we get older, we lose hope that our rage can make a positive difference. But it does have some powerful moments. In my unbiased opinion.
‘Blues For Davy’ was also recorded on home equipment and hasn’t survived very well, but there’s a good guitar piece in there somewhere.