Bootup Blues (Big Blues) [2019 demo]

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

Dah-diddy-dah-diddy-dah-diddy-dah….

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 imaginary boot sector virus, thanks for the suggestion, but I did at the time actually work – or, strictly speaking, consult – for a(nother) anti-virus company, and I had it covered.

David Harley

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Coasting – change of arrangement [demo]

Words and music copyright David Harley 1982: all rights reserved

Still looking for a final arrangement for this.

Version with added ‘space’

Unvarnished version

I think this is going in the right direction.  I like the feel of the lead break, but it seems a bit lonely on its own. Maybe some keyboard and bass.

The accompaniment is a single Gibson J160E miked up, but with pickup recorded simultaneously on a different track. I rather like the sound, and may make more of it. The lead break is my Les Paul.

The nights pass slowly, but they pass:
The days are paper-thin.
Life goes on much as usual:
Some games I lose, some I win.
Sometimes I feel that I’m sleepwalking
Through the streets of this grey city,
But then, it’s only been a month or two.
It’s not the first time that I’ve coasted
Through the routine chores of living
And I’ll make it this time too
After you…

Today I walked in sunlight though the wind blew cold
Through my coat:
I thought about the coming spring, and I swear somewhere
I felt a twinge of hope.
I don’t expect to hear from you. I guess that’s how it should be:
There’s no point in chasing dreams that won’t come true.
It’s not the first time that I’ve coasted through the aftermath of loving
And I’ll make it this time too
After you…

Sometimes I take a weekend walk by these muddy city shores
And old man river talks to me
But I can’t quite understand: my feet stay locked to the dry land
So he drifts on with the seasons out to sea

The weeks pass slowly but they pass
And I drift from phase to phase.
I’m sick of wishing you were here to help me
Through these bleak and restless days.
Sometimes I think I’m waking into another nightmare,
But it passes, as these feelings often do.
It’s not the first time I’ve been lonely, nor the first time I’ve been left,
And I’ll make it this time too
After you…

David Harley

Two Is A Silence [demo]

A song previously posted elsewhere, but the lyric here is as I sing it now, rather than as recorded. If it matters…

Words and Music by David Harley, copyright 1986 

Demo version with added bouzouki:

I’m not quite sure why I keep wanting to add exotic instruments to a song that borders on the country-ish, but I’ve been messing about with versions incorporating Nashville-tuned guitar and/or mandola. But don’t worry: I’m totally incapable of getting any sound whatsoever out of the bagpipes.

Previously posted elsewhere, but I suddenly noticed that the way I sing it now changes the order of the words slightly, though it probably doesn’t make much real difference to anyone else. Anyway, the words below are as I sing it now, so don’t quite match the recording. Next time, maybe.

Two isn’t company, three is a crowd
Two is a silence, three is too loud
Two is a silence gets harder to break
But three always leaves one left over

Three into two isn’t good for the head
It’s no problem in math, but it’s bad news in bed
And it’s one for an ace and two for a pair
But three always leaves one left over

When we’re alone somehow he’s always there
You say it’s the same when you two are the pair
So it’s one for sorrow and two for joy

But three always leaves one left over

All the shouting is over and dead
Somehow there’s nothing much else to be said
And it’s one for the money and two for the show
But three always leaves one left over

Two isn’t company, three is a crowd
Two is a silence, three is too loud
Two is a silence gets harder to break
But three always leaves one left over

David Harley

Wrekin (The Welsh Marches Line) – demo

Expansion of a blog article previously posted, with link to song but much more background information.

I’ve linked to this song before, but as I’ve added quite a lot of background info this time, I thought it was worth a post of its own.

Wrekin (The Marches Line) (words & music by David Harley)

The Abbey watches my train crawling Southwards
Thoughts of Cadfael kneeling in his cell
All along the Marches line, myth and history
Prose and rhyme
But these are tales I won’t be here to tell

The hill is crouching like a cat at play
Its beacon flashing red across the plain
Once we were all friends around the Wrekin
But some will never pass this way again

Lawley and Caradoc fill my window
Facing down the Long Mynd, lost in rain
But I’m weighed down with the creaks and groans
Of all the years I’ve known
And I don’t think I’ll walk these hills again

Stokesay dreams its humble glories
Stories that will never come again
Across the Shropshire hills
The rain is blowing still
But the Marcher Lords won’t ride this way again

The royal ghosts of Catherine and Arthur
May walk the paths of Whitcliffe now and then
Housman’s ashes grace
The Cathedral of the Marches
He will not walk Ludlow’s streets again

The hill is crouching like a cat at play
Its beacon flashing red across the plain
Once we were all friends around the Wrekin
But some will never pass this way again
And I may never pass this way again

‘The Abbey’ is actually Shrewsbury’s Abbey Church: not much else of the Abbey survived the Dissolution and Telford’s roadbuilding in 1836. Cadfael is the fictional monk/detective whose home was the Abbey around 1135-45, according to the novels by ‘Ellis Peters’ (Edith Pargeter).

The Welsh Marches Line runs from Newport (the one in Gwent) to Shrewsbury. Or, arguably, up as far as Crewe, since it follows the March of Wales from which it takes its name, the buffer zone between the Welsh principalities and the English monarchy which extended well into present-day Cheshire.

‘The hill’ is the Wrekin, which, though at a little over 400 metres high is smaller than many of the other Shropshire Hills, is isolated enough from the others to dominate the Shropshire Plain. The beacon is at the top of the Wrekin Transmitting Station mast, though a beacon was first erected there during WWII. The Shropshire toast ‘All friends around the Wrekin’ seems to have been recorded first in the dedication of George Farquar’s 1706 play ‘The Recruiting Officer’, set in Shrewsbury.

‘Lawley’ refers to the hill rather than the township in Telford. The Lawley and Caer Caradoc do indeed dominate the landscape on the East side of the Stretton Gap coming towards Church Stretton from the North via the Marches Line or the A49, while the Long Mynd (‘Long Mountain’) pretty much owns the Western side of the Gap.

Stokesay Castle, near Craven Arms, is technically a fortified manor house rather than a true castle. It was built in the late 13th century by the wool merchant Laurence of Ludlow, and has been extensively restored in recent years by English Heritage, who suggest that the lightness of its fortification might actually have been intentional, to avoid presenting any threat to the established Marcher Lords.

Prince Arthur, elder brother of Henry VIII, was sent with his bride Catherine of Aragon to Ludlow administer the Council of Wales and the Marches, and died there after only a few months. Catherine went on to marry and be divorced by Henry VIII, and died about 30 years later at Kimbolton Castle. Catherine is reputed to haunt Kimbolton, so it’s unlikely that she also haunts Whitcliffe, the other side of the Teme from Ludlow Castle. (As far as I know, no-one is claimed to haunt Whitcliffe. Poetic licence…)

For some time it has puzzled me that in ‘A Ballad for Catherine of Aragon’, Charles Causley refers to her as “…a Queen of 24…” until I realized he was probably referring not to her age, but to the length of time that she was acknowledged to be Queen of England.

The ashes of A.E. Housman are indeed buried in the grounds of St. Laurence’s church, Ludlow, which is not in fact a cathedral, but is often referred to as ‘the Cathedral of the Marches’. It is indeed a church with many fine features (I have about a zillion photographs of its misericords) and its tower is visible from a considerable distance (and plays a major part in Housman’s poem ‘The Recruit’).

The song was actually mostly written on a train between Shrewsbury and Newport at a time when I was frequently commuting between Shropshire and Cornwall to visit my frail 94-year-old mother, who died a few months after, so it has particular resonance for me. It originally included a couple of extra verses about Hereford and the Vale of Usk, but after the ‘Wrekin’ chorus forced its way into the song, I decided to restrict it to the Shropshire-related verses. Maybe they’ll turn up sometime as another song.

David Harley

Wrekin [demo]

If you’re familiar with the Welsh Marches Line, it probably won’t surprise you that the first draft of this was born on my way from Shrewsbury to Newport.

This version is more solid than the previous version and incorporates a bit of second guitar.

Wrekin (words and music by David Harley)

The Abbey watches my train crawling southward
Thoughts of Cadfael kneeling in his cell
All along the Marches line, myth and history, prose and rhyme
But those are tales I won’t be here to tell

The hill is crouching like a cat at play
Its beacon flashing red across the plain
Once we were all friends around the Wrekin
But some will never pass this way again

Lawley and Caradoc fill my window
Facing down the Longmynd, lost in rain
But I’m weighed down with the creaks and groans of all the years I’ve known
And I don’t think I’ll walk these hills again

The hill is crouching like a cat at play
Its beacon flashing red across the plain
Once we were all friends around the Wrekin
But some will never pass this way again

Stokesay dreams its humble glories
Glories that will never come again
Across the Shropshire hills, the rain is blowing still
But the Marcher Lords won’t ride this way gain

The hill is crouching like a cat at play
Its beacon flashing red across the plain
Once we were all friends around the Wrekin
But some will never pass this way again

The royal ghosts of Catherine and Arthur
May walk the paths of Whitcliffe now and then
Housman’s ashes grace the Cathedral of the Marches
He will not walk Ludlow’s streets again

The hill is crouching like a cat at play
Its beacon flashing red across the plain
Once we were all friends around the Wrekin
But some will never pass this way again

And I may never pass this way again

David Harley

Song of Chivalry (live version)

Recorded during my recent ‘Live Lounge’ session hosted by Ian Semple at CoastFM. Played on my Baby Taylor in Nashville tuning.

Originally published as a poem in Vertical Images 2, 1987.  I waited 30+ years for the melody to turn up, and finally did a make-it-up-as-you-go-along job earlier this year.

And yes, I know that it’s unlikely that M’Lord fought both at Crécy (1346) and Agincourt (1415). While the Black Death subsided in England from about 1350, outbreaks continued beyond the first half of the 15thcentury. I’m not sure how likely it was that M’Lord slept on silk sheets, but it’s a metaphor, not a history lesson…

When M’Lord returned
To his sheets of silk
And his gentle lady
Of musk and milk

The minstrels sang
In the gallery
Their songs of slaughter
And chivalry

The rafters roared
With laughter and boasting
Goblets were raised and drained
In toasting

The heroes of Crécy
And Agincourt
Or the madness
Of some holy war

The hawk is at rest
On the gauntlet once more
Savage of eye
And bloody of claw

Famine and fever
Are all the yield
Of the burnt-out barns
And wasted fields

The sun grins coldly
Through the trees
The children shiver
The widows grieve
And beg their bread
At the monastery door
Tell me then
Who won the war?

David Harley