A work in progress. Actually, it’s going to be a Xmas present for my mother, who’s been obsessed with it since I started singing it in the ’60s. Vocals need more work, and I’ll probably put on some harmonies, if I can stop it sounding too much like Peter, Paul and Mary… (Not that I didn’t like their version: maybe one of the best things they ever did.)
Vestapol started life as ‘The Siege of Sevastopol‘, a parlour piece by Henry Worrall that was written using an open D tuning. Both the tune and the tuning (often referred to now as ‘Vestapol tuning’) caught the imagination of blues players and evolved into a simpler piece played by all sorts of people, notably Elizabeth Cotton, but also sprouted words (Poor Boy Blues, Poor Boy a Long Ways From Home) recorded by Mississippi John Hurt, Barbecue Bob, and Bukka White, and also John Fahey. This version is put together from a dim and distant memory of hearing Stefan Grossman play/sing a hybrid version in the 1970s. I don’t know if he ever recorded it.
I rarely play it as a slide piece or song, but sometimes put in a slide break. However, the action on the Taylor I used for this recording is really too low for slide, so I overdubbed some slide on the break in the middle using a Bobcat resonator guitar.
Small Blue-Green World
Words and Music by David Harley copyright 1972
Landscapes dissolving into flashback
With sleep in my eyes I’m on the run
From memory’s slo-mo home movie
To ride a friendly breeze blowing North
Daubed with the ash of friendships
And laughing all the while
Once you came to me
Still shy of the stranger’s smile
Careless of time and changes
In the catacombs we spread our tiny wings
And from here I can’t see
Was that the moon flying high or was it me
And if you’d never said you loved me
We might not have come to harm
I might have slept forever
Nailed to the cross of your arms
Now which end of the seesaw is Susie?
Where’s that happy ending now?
Lost somewhere between the church and the laundromat
A bird with one wing down