Rough demo: The Jailer

Very much a work in progress. I had a fairly complete set of words but no tune. Then I started playing about with a looper I bought some months ago but had never made use of, and realized that the chords I was improvising over would fit the words.

This version is experimenting with a tentative arrangement:

And this version is an attempt to formalize the tune, but it’s not quite there yet. Still, I have a poor memory for tunes and I needed something to refer back to after I forgot it overnight. (Yes, I did forget it overnight…)

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

[break]

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

(All rights reserved)

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Singing in the Street [demo]

I have a large basket full of forgotten or half-written songs, or even orphaned lines and verses. Every so often I take a look through it, and a few days ago, I found this, from the early 70s. Clearly not the happiest time of my life, but I think the song may creep back into my repertoire anyway:

I thought I heard you singing in the street
You couldn’t hold the tune, but the words were sweet
I don’t know who you were singing for
I don’t even wish it was me

And I remember once I caught you crying
I was half-asleep, your body next to mine
You wouldn’t say what you were crying for
I suppose it might have been me

And once I heard you singing in the street
You couldn’t hold the tune, but the words were sweet
I heard that song too long ago
There’s nothing more to say

“Of course I love you
I told you so”
“Yes, I remember
But it seems so long ago”

And a version with a second guitar, just as a tryout. I think the final version will be quite different (and will need some work on the vocals: I wasn’t getting those low notes very well today). Still, nice to have a version actually down. Or up. Or somewhere…

David Harley

Words and music (c) David Harley 1973

Tears of Morning (suite) [very rough demo]

An idea for something that would be a suite rather than an individual song. At the moment it combines a version of Tears of Morning (a setting of two lyrics from Housman’s Last Poems); the air-like guitar piece that would be the basis of a guitar arrangement for that setting and a bridge to the next section; this next section would be my song Sea Fret (here represented by just two verses using a different guitar arrangement to fit in with the first sections, and incorporating some bits from an old guitar piece of mine called Bluebert); and finally, an instrumental interpretation of She Moved Through The Fair based on Davy Graham’s arrangement from the 1960s.

There’s a lot of work to do on this (and the vocals illustrate clearly why you shouldn’t sing just after eating pizza): here, I’m just working out some ideas for an overall structure.

David Harley

Tears of Morning [demo]

Another Housman setting: words from Last Poems. I’ve followed the example of Michael Raven in using two separate verses that are clearly connected thematically and in form, at least as far as this stand-alone song is concerned. However, in the suite of songs/pieces that this might eventually be used for, XXVI will probably be enough. The suite is going to be gloomy enough as it is…

Mike Raven used a traditional tune for his setting that sounds familiar, but I’m not sure from where. I think I may have heard it attached to The Holy Well but wouldn’t swear to it. That setting is beautifully sung unaccompanied by Joan Mills on the CD ‘A Shropshire Lad’ (with Mike Raven) reviewed here. However, I’ve put a new tune to it. This is one of my ‘get-the-tune-recorded-and-worry-about-the-setting-later’ pieces, strictly a demo.

XXVI

The half-moon westers low, my love,
And the wind brings up the rain;
And wide apart lie we, my love,
And seas between the twain.

I know not if it rains, my love,
In the land where you do lie;
And oh, so sound you sleep, my love,
You know no more than I.

XXVII

The sigh that heaves the grasses
Whence thou wilt never rise
Is of the air that passes
And knows not if it sighs.

The diamond tears adorning
Thy low mound on the lea,
Those are the tears of morning,
That weeps, but not for thee.

David Harley

Long Cigarettes, Cheap Red Wine [demo]

Written in the 1970s when I was getting disenchanted with the idea of being a rock star. Not that there was ever the slightest chance of that happening. (There is a version around somewhere played on resonator guitar.) Actually, the new intro might be interesting played on bouzouki and/or banjo. I’ll have to think about that.

Lyrics (slightly amended since the resonator version):

You sing your songs / the stage is bare
There isn’t / anyone out there
From time to time / it just seems that way
And I run out / of songs to play

Forget the musak / and the beer
The open mouths / the grudging cheers
There isn’t / any better way
To freeload / your life away

Back in / 1969
I lost someone / I thought  was mine
That’s the price / I had to pay
When I ran out / of songs to play

Goodbye old friend / I have to leave
Just to prove / that I’m still free
I’ll see you / in a year or so
And buy the round / you say I owe

The long cigarettes / the cheap red wine
The melodies / you say are mine
And if you find / somewhere to be
I hope / you’ll save a place for me

Words and music by David Harley: all rights reserved

Moonstruck [demo]

Moonstruck
David Harley, copyright 1987

 

Mirror-eyed and misty
and veering into black
Tiptoe across the flagstones
falling through the cracks
I’ve lain too long in midnight
and I can’t find my way back

I was leaving close on midnight
but I couldn’t find the door
Creeping round the moonlight
littered on your bedroom floor
I’ve lain too long in midnight
and I can’t find my way home

I’m frozen to your mattress
and my mind is playing dead
I can’t reach across the moonbeams
to the wordgames in your head
I’ve lain too long in midnight
and I can’t recall a thing we said

Sea Fret 2 [demo]

A song it’s taken me two years to write… A better recording than the previous version, but not yet quite ready to go. But at least I’m fairly confident with the tune now.

Black cat in my path today – black news chilled me to the marrow
Black cloud standing in my way – two birds of prey and one for sorrow
A little chaos flown from my life – too late to hope for one last summer

A sea fret hides the harbour – a cold wind blows off the sea
You lie somewhere I’ll never find you – and no-one’s lying next to me
And surely these are not the places – that we were meant to be

Once you blew into my life – like a friendly hurricane
Near misses, French kisses – then you’d be gone again
Till later you’d drop by – and break my heart again

Sometimes I was sure I loved you – sometimes I think that you loved me
But there was always something else – somewhere you had to be
Always something in the way – someone else you had to see

I always knew we’d drive each other crazy – my fevered heart still hoped someday
I’d find you waiting round the bend – for someone I hoped to be
Waiting there for someone – I never could quite be

Mist rolls up the mountain – the wind blows off the sea
There’s no ledge for us to meet on – and no-one’s lying next to me
And surely these are not the places – that we were meant to be