Sale or Return [demo]

Sale or Return: copyright David Harley, 1974

You could say this song changed my life in a number of ways. (Not all of them good, but that’s a story for another time and place.) It marked a point where I started to think of myself as a songwriter rather than as a guitarist (or, any sort of singer). As did other people. Your mileage may vary. It was still a good while before I found myself writing for a living, and then it was quite a different kind of writing. But that’s also another story.

Strangely, this was the first time I’d performed it in a couple of decades – well, it’s in a sort of metaphorical, indirect lyrical style that I don’t generally favour – so it’s a bit rough vocally and instrumentally, though I tried a second guitar part for colour (next time, I think I may try some sitar and go easier on the echo). It’s better than I remembered, however: I think it may sneak back into my regular repertoire …

David Harley

Mister can I carry your bags?
We took the same road and we both paid the fare
Buddy can I carry your axe?
We started out right and I know you still care
And hey, can I carry your load?
At least you still look like you’re bound somewhere

I’ve talked to the hero who knew he was hip
Who got too heavy to loosen his grip
Who sold out his name to some strange ego trip
And I know the glass eye looking into itself
The fly blown in amber trapping dust on the shelf
Conversations that tailed into stony silence

Mister can I carry your bags?
We took the same road and we both paid the fare
Buddy can I carry your axe?
We started out right and I know you still care
And hey, can I carry your load?
At least you still look like you’re bound somewhere

I’ve seen how it is twisted out of the frame
By the mythical muse that warps and maims
A half-human soul into implacable aims
And I’ve known a hero we all knew of old
Who sold out his share of the silver and gold
And still he can’t tune out the gall in his soul

Mister can I carry your bags?
We took the same road and we both paid the fare
Buddy can I try your axe?
We started out right and I know you still care
And hey, can I carry your load?
At least you still look like you’re bound somewhere

So it’s down to the Tranny and the travelling band
But somewhere we drew blank, something better we planned
Is gone with the smithy and the shantyman
So I sat and I drank and I listened to you
Then I drank some more while the beat soaked through
But I guess I just drank off my blue suede shoes

[break]

And I know how it is kicking themes into shape
In sleep-bleeding hours between two working days
And I’m not here to say you should make that mistake
No, there’s no point in crossing the bridges we burned
But a few bands ago we talked in no terms
Of sale or return

 

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