How can I keep from singing? [demo]

Ironically enough, given its title, an instrumental version of a 19th century hymn. I’ve been playing it a lot since I started playing serious slide guitar again. When I play it live, I sometimes go into ‘Twelve Gates to the City’, but more often I go into something far less spiritual. 🙂 I should probably spend some more time on the recording – there’s more extraneous noise on this version than I like – but it’s going in the right direction.

The hymn has its own Wikipedia page, including the first published lyrics and the verse added by Doris Plenn and sung by Pete Seeger. In fact, I first heard it on Seeger’s I Can See a New Day album, a compilation of live recordings released in 1964. The music is credited to Robert Lowrey, as published in his ‘Bright Jewels for the Sunday School’, published in 1869, but the source of the original lyrics is uncertain. The lyrics (apart from Plenn’s) included in the Wikipedia page are apparently as published in the New York Observer in 1868 under the title Always Rejoicing and attributed to ‘Pauline T.’

David Harley

Advertisements

Let Me Lie Easy [demo]

A song I’ve been working on, one way or another, for nearly 40 years…

I’ve actually written this song three times, though the tune has survived every iteration. The first version of the words disappeared during the break up with an ex-girlfriend in the mid-70s, the second with my first ex-wife. I have an ex-rated musical career. This is the third or 4th demo, but it’s getting nearer to what I have in my head. At least you can hear the synth on this version. Synth and multi-tracking notwithstanding, it’s more folk-y than most of my stuff.

Words & Music by David Harley: copyright 1975, all rights reserved.

I don’t want to hear that the show must go on
I know that the world keeps on turning
But how can you ask me to rise with the lark
With this pain in my heart still burning?

Let me lie easy, let me lie late
Let me lie low, let the world wait
Let me lie easy, let me lie lie late
Please let me sleep till it’s over

The sheep’s in the meadow, the cow’s in the corn
The dogs call in vain for their master
Just give me a while to untangle my threads
And Little Boy Blue will come after

The summer’s near gone and the year’s on the wane
The harvest stands ripened and wasting
Just give me an hour to unscramble my head
And I promise I’ll not keep you waiting

Also…

The 1st and 2nd versions of the lyric are gone forever, which given that they were even darker than this version, may not be such a bad thing. But this version, which turned up in my things-to-work-on-one-of-these-decades folder, gives some idea. I probably won’t sing it this way again, or attempt to incorporate it into the existing version, but just for completists…

Let me lie easy [older version]

Let me lie easy, let me lie late
Let me lie low, let the world wait
Let me lie still just this once in my life
Please let me sleep till it’s over

The sheep’s in the meadow, the cow’s in the corn
The world’s upside down without warning
Just lend me a night to unscramble my head
And I’ll sort it all out in the morning

Crows in the stubble, a gull on the wing
A shout through the misty distance
Just lend me a moment to bind up my wrist
And appear to reward your persistence

Bootup Blues [demo]

Newly-recorded demo of Bootup Blues (also sometimes known as Big Blues, for strictly nerd-ish reasons).

Words (and music, such as it is) by David Harley. Copyright 1996.

This one has been acoustic, electric, and even unaccompanied (that’s usually at poetry gigs where I didn’t think to take an instrument, though), but I thought a slide version might be nice. I have a resonator guitar and I’m not afraid to use it. 😉

While this still has demo status, I wouldn’t be too unhappy if the final version finished up sounding very much like this.

When I woke up this morning
My laptop wouldn’t boot at all
I said I woke up this morning
And tossed my Tosh against the wall
My baby took the mains adapter and the battery’s screwed beyond recall

Well she left me for some guy
With a 99GHz overclocked PC
And now she’s interfacing
With his RS232C
(he’s a serial womanizer)
She said my hard disk was too small
To satisfy
Her new spreadsheet

I wouldn’t treat an iPad
The way that woman treated me
She fragmented my hard disk
And ran off with my Angry Birds DVD
Left me nothing but this boot sector virus
And a copy of Wordstar version 3.3

You can get some idea of how old this thing is from the fact that the iPad was originally an Amstrad, and the Angry Birds DVD was originally a 7th Guest CD. It’s hard keeping up with technology. Hopefully, I’m still ahead of the curve on PC CPU specs, Moore’s Law (or House’s variant) and overclocking notwithstanding.

The reference to RS232C is slightly disingenuous: RS-232-C is the 1969 version of the standard, not hardware. I wouldn’t have mentioned any of this if it weren’t for a ludicrous conversation in a pub with someone who apparently thought I was setting PC for Dummies to music rather than writing a mildly amusing blues parody.

And to the guy who recommended that I use Sophos to deal with my boot sector virus, thanks for the suggestion, but I do actually work – or, strictly speaking, consult – for an(other) anti-virus company, and I think I’ve got it covered.

David Harley

 

Weeping Willow/Corrina [demo]

[Revised notes and added to this blog on 15th May 2016 after Ian Semple kindly included this recording on his Radio Penwith show. That’s the only Cornish connection, though I expect I’ll continue to sing it now I live down here. NB this replaces the demo I posted on my song site in July 2014. It’s still a demo, but it’s nearer the way I now hear it in my head. Whether it’ll ever get as far as a commercial recording is a different issue.:)]

Not one of my songs, of course. This demo is an interpretation of a song I learned many years ago from Michael Cooney by way of banjo player (well, multi-instrumentalist) Merrion Wood. Oddly enough, Bert Jansch also recorded a slightly similar ‘Weeping Willow Blues’ using a 12-string. I’ve never heard Michael Cooney’s recording, but I seem to remember that he also played it on 12-string when I heard him play it live. Just to be awkward, I play it slide, so it’s probably not that close to either version.:)

I think Michael did tell me at the time (I guess it was in the early 70s) where his version comes from – I heard him sing it at the old Shrewsbury Folk Club. (A post on Mudcat suggests that it came from Leadbelly: it does somehwhat resemble Roberta.) However, he kindly responded to a recent email as follows:

I first heard the song sung by Guy Carawan; I believe he sang it in a minor key. I added a verse or two from other blues songs and worked out that arrangement. I play it in D with the E string tuned down to D, AND I used to (back then) tune the whole guitar down so when I played it in “D” it was really in C# or even C.

Michael recorded the same song on an LP called ‘Singer of Old Songs’, and it turns out that it’s on the CD of the same name he’s released on his own label. I plan to acquire a copy sooner rather than later: apart from being curious to see how far my version has changed from his, I always enjoyed his sets back in the 70s and I look forward to hearing some of those songs again.

The ‘Sometimes I think you’re too sweet to die…’ verse is close to one associated with Rabbit Brown’s ‘James Alley Blues’, widely known through Judy Roderick’s rewrite ‘Born in the Country’.

David Harley
Small Blue-Green World

Engine Inn Open Mic

A great open mic near Wheal Alice, and some music links added.

I took a couple of instruments along to the open mic at the Engine Inn, Cripplesease: last Friday of the month, open mic. 01736-740204. There was a wide range of excellent music, and I enjoyed it very much. (I’m also looking forward to trying the acoustic session every Tuesday in the near future.) Continue reading “Engine Inn Open Mic”