Down To The River [demo]

Recorded on domestic equipment in the 1980s, so not commercial quality. But not a bad version vocally. Perhaps the lyric could be tightened up a bit, if I ever go for a commercial version.

Words & Music by David Harley: all rights reserved.

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True Confessions [remastered]

Another track from the ‘Diverse Brew’ sessions. This is a song co-written with Don MacLeod (who wrote the melody), and the mix is actually pretty good. But again, I don’t have the mix tapes or master to work from. Still, I’ve tweaked it as best I can.

  • Lead and backing vocal, acoustic and electric lead guitars: David Harley
  • Acoustic guitar and piano: Don MacLeod
  • Additional backing vocals: Anna (Lin) Thompson
  • Percussion: Richard Davy

David Harley

Heatwave [remastered 2019]

Another from the ‘Diverse Brew’ sessions. Not much I’ve been able to do to improve sound quality on this, but perhaps it’s a little better than previous posted versions, with headphones at any rate. Sounds awful through my laptop’s speakers… 😦

I really must re-record it, perhaps without the penultimate verse. I do think it’s one of my better songs.

Not literal historical fact, but a series of pictures reacting to the urban paranoia that was London when I lived there – Broadwater Farm and other riots, the ‘sus’ law, homelessness… – and I didn’t even get round to mentioning IRA bombings.

  • Vocal, acoustic and electric guitars, banjo: David Harley
  • Piano: James Bolam (no, not the actor)

David Harley

One Step Away (From The Blues) [remastered] 2019

If you’re unfortunate enough to have heard a lot of me in the last 30 years or so, the chances are you’ve heard this song. This is the version we recorded in the 1980s for an album that was never released. I’ve put it up here and there before, but this is a cleaner version. Unfortunately, I only had an imperfect cassette recording to work from, so there’s more noise than I’d like. But the mix is reasonably good, and I’ve remastered it here as best I could, given my unreliable hearing and unimpressive engineering skills.

  • Vocal, acoustic guitar, electric guitar: David Harley
  • Acoustic lead guitar: Don MacLeod
  • Acoustic 12-string guitar: Bob Theil

David Harley

Ghosts [demo]

I’m not saying I’m a slow writer, but this set of words is at least a quarter of a century old, and even though I had a vague idea of how I wanted the tune to go, I only just got around to trying to put them together. Actually, about four years ago, but I wasn’t happy with the tune. This is better, and I hope to learn the thing this time.

Copyright David Harley, 1987

Let’s get down to cases before someone packs their bags
And there’s nothing else to do but walk away.
Please don’t say there’s nothing to talk over: that’s not true
Unless you’d rather just call it a day…

There’s a cuckoo in our love nest
I can see him in your eyes
When you’re looking straight at me
It’s not always me you see
Who is that ghost you recognized?

Sometimes when we’re making love
You seem confused about my name
It seems I’m sharing you
With someone else you knew
Who’s gone, but not forgotten just the same

If you need time to think it over
You’re right, there’s nothing to explain
But please don’t go burning your fingers
On any old flames

I’m not afraid of losing you
I never had you anyway
There always seemed to be
A part of you that you kept from me
Words you never cared to say

If you need time to think it over
You’re right, there’s nothing to explain
But please don’t go burning your fingers
On any old flames

I’m not afraid of losing you
I never had you anyway
There always seemed to be
A part of you that you kept from me
Words you never cared to say

David Harley

 

Freeze Frame [initial demo]

Finally finished(-ish) the tune, after only 33 years. Now I just have to learn it and put up a not-so-rough version.

Words and music by David Harley, copyright 1986

It’s a bitter-sweet light blue affair
Caught halfway between hope and despair
A tear for joy or a twisted smile
An elegant pose in the classic style
That echoes reality

It’s a strange ambiguity
Caught between life and parody
A stolen kiss, a moment of magic
Frozen between the comic and tragic
A haunting half-memory

What can we tell from these soft-focus nights
Of what might be real and exactly what’s right?
What can we learn from what we might see
On an under-developed transparency?
Only the questions are clear
Like “Where do we go from here?”

It’s a bittersweet light blue affair
A flash of future, of time we could share
A tear for joy or a twisted smile
An elegant pose in the classic style
Transcending reality
That can be what you want it to be

David Harley

Crossing the Bar [demo]

A work in progress. A well-known poem of 1889 by Alfred, Lord Tennyson. A ‘moaning’ noise is characteristic of a harbour sandbar when the tide is  low and the water may too turbulent for a boat to put out to sea across it in safety. Kingsley’s ‘Three Fishers’ – set to music by John Hullah as recorded by Joan Baez and many others –  uses the image of the moaning of the harbour shoal to represent danger.  Tennyson’s poem uses it as the starting point for describing the final passing from life into death. It’s reported that before his death three years later he asked his son Hallam to have the poem placed at the end of all future editions of his verse.

Since then, the poem has been a popular choice for funerals, whether as a reading or in a musical setting such as the one by Sir Hubert Parry, the choral setting by Ian Assersohn, or the very popular folkier tune by Rani Arbo. In fact, I read it at my own mother’s funeral in 2018, but always felt that I wanted to set it to music myself for an ongoing project. This is the second draft of my setting, and it’s sounding nearer to what I wanted.

Sunset and evening star,
      And one clear call for me!
And may there be no moaning of the bar,
      When I put out to sea,
   But such a tide as moving seems asleep,
      Too full for sound and foam,
When that which drew from out the boundless deep
      Turns again home.
   Twilight and evening bell,
      And after that the dark!
And may there be no sadness of farewell,
      When I embark;
   For tho’ from out our bourne of Time and Place
      The flood may bear me far,
I hope to see my Pilot face to face
      When I have crost the bar.
David Harley