Monthly Archives: March 2015

When I was one and twenty [demo]

Actually a setting of two verses from ‘A Shropshire Lad’:  XVIII (Oh, When I Was In Love With You) and XIII (When I Was One and Twenty). There are already demo recordings on this site of the two individual settings, which use the same tune, but this is a sketch for a more ambitious orchestral arrangement that combines the two. Sadly, I didn’t have an orchestra handy, so the strings here come courtesy of a Yamaha keyboard. The guitar part is actually a guitar, though. 🙂

[Cleaned up the vocal a bit on the first section.]

  XVIII

          Oh, when I was in love with you,
           Then I was clean and brave,
          And miles around the wonder grew
           How well did I behave.

          And now the fancy passes by,
           And nothing will remain,
          And miles around they'll say that I
           Am quite myself again.
 XIII

          When I was one-and-twenty
           I heard a wise man say,
          "Give crowns and pounds and guineas
           But not your heart away;
          Give pearls away and rubies
           But keep your fancy free."
          But I was one-and-twenty,
           No use to talk to me.

          When I was one-and-twenty
           I heard him say again,
          "The heart out of the bosom
           Was never given in vain;
          'Tis paid with sighs a plenty
           And sold for endless rue."
          And I am two-and-twenty,
           And oh, 'tis true, 'tis true.

Old White Lightning [demo]

Words and music by David Harley

This was a little odd. I haven’t thought of this song for decades, and it suddenly popped back into my head today. But I can’t remember the third verse at all, though I’m pretty sure there was one. Maybe it doesn’t need one. Or it’ll suddenly come back to me. Or I’ll get around to writing another.

Basic arrangement: just an acoustic with overdubbed electric for the lead break.

I went down to see my lady
But someone spread the news all over town
I said “I don’t mind what you call me
But won’t you keep your sweet voice down?”
Might have been old white lightning
Might have been old sloe gin
Might have been brandy and it might have been Scotch
But it’s really done me in

[break]

If I go back to see my lady
I hope she won’t have all my cases packed
I need an ice pack for my aching head
Not an ice pick for my back
Might have been old Sal Stacey
Might have been Lucy-Lynne
It might have been Lisa or it might have been Liz
But she really did me in

Alternative version found on an old work tape, including the elusive third verse but no lead break has been added yet:

I went down to see my lady
But someone spread the news all over town
I said ‘I don’t mind what you call me,
But won’t you keep your sweet voice down?’
Might have been old white lightning
Might have been old sloe gin
Might have been barley, or it might have been malt
But it’s really done me in

If I go back to see my lady
I know just where she’s at
She’s got an ice-pack for my aching head
And an ice-pick for my back
Might have been old Sal Stacey
Might have been Lucy-Lynne
Might have been Lisa, might have been Liz
But she really did me in

I think I’ll steer my feet to the river
Marking time to the thump in my head
I think I might just die of too much wine
And it’ll save you changing the bed
Might have been smack or cocaine
Petrol or paraffin
Might have been Bostik or North Sea gas
But I swear it’s done me in

Back in the Day [demo]

Back in the Day
(Words by Alison Pittaway – Music by David Harley)

I said hello
and you cracked a smile,
I felt warm inside
just for a while.

Just two friends
back in the day,
No need for words then
[or at least it seemed that way]

We played and we laughed
as the world went spinning by
And time went faster then,
faster than we realized

There was no need for words
And no thoughts misunderstood.
You didn’t wait for an answer
And how I’d wished you would.

You’ve gone from me now,
Gone so far away.
But we were just two friends then,
Back in the day.

Oh, just two friends,
back in the day.

Young Hunting [demo(s)]

First demo is voice and guitar only.

Second demo overdubs some ‘banjo’ and ‘sitar’ for colour. Actually, it’s a Variax 300 guitar impersonating a Gibson Mastertone and a Coral Sitar. I do own a banjo, but I don’t practice enough to play it publicly. And I did once own a sitar, but it died horribly when someone threw it down a flight of stairs.) Thinking about it, the final version will go much easier on the overdubs, and maybe the guitar is enough anyway.

The unaccompanied version below is much older.

This is a traditional ballad (Child 68). Nick Cave recorded a version of an American variant called Henry Lee. So Wikipedia tells me. I was never a Bad Seeds follower…

I don’t usually rewrite traditional songs, and I honestly can’t remember where I found these words (though I suspect that they’re from the US), but I liked the way they pared down most of the elements of the story without completely losing the supernatural aspect, and I don’t think I tweaked them very much. I didn’t have a tune, so I wrote one. I haven’t sung it in decades, but I suddenly remembered it when I was working up another song of mine that uses a variation of the same tune.

Demo unaccompanied (earlier) version: 

Young Hunting (arr. and adapted Harley)

Light down, light down my own true love
And stay with me the night
For I have a bed and a fireside too
And a candle that burns so bright.

I can’t light down and I won’t light down
Nor spend the night with thee
For I have a love and a true true love
Would think so ill of me

But he’s bent down from his saddle
To kiss her snowy white cheek
She’s stolen the dagger from out of his belt
And plunged it into him so deep

She’s taken him by his long yellow hair
And the maid’s taken him by the feet
They’ve plunged him into that deep doleful well
Full 20 fathoms deep

And as she’s turned her round to go home
She’s heard some pretty bird sing
Go home, go home you cruel girl
And weep and mourn for him

Fly down, fly down you pretty bird
Fly down and go home with me
And your cage will be made of the glittering gold
And the perch of the best ivory

I can’t fly down and I won’t fly down
And I’ll not go home with thee
For you have slain your own true love
And I’m feared you’ll murder me

I wish I had my bent horn bow
And drawn with a silken string
I surely would shoot that cruel bird
As sits in the briars and sings

I wish you had your bent horn bow
And drawn with a silken string
I surely would fly from vine to vine
And always you’d hear me sing