Monthly Archives: July 2021

New album – Cold Iron

Yes, I know it’s not a good sales strategy to put out so many albums so close together, but I’m trying to get this stuff out there, and not really expecting to make my fortune at this time of my life.

All music by David A. Harley. The author of the 18th century lyric to ‘They Hang The Man’ is unknown, and the words to ‘Nowhere to Nowhere’ were written by Alison Pittaway. Piano on ‘London 1983’ by James Bolam. All vocals and other instruments by David A. Harley.

All rights reserved.

Here’s the album: Cold Iron

And here’s the track ‘For Phil Ochs’ which is in a way the foundation stone of the album:

Anyway, here are what would be the sleeve notes if I was releasing it as a physical album.

I suppose you could say that all songs are ‘social comment’ – I don’t care for the term ‘protest’ since I associate it with the 1960s phenomenon of well-fed pop singers whining about plastic people and how awful everything is – but I’ve always leaned towards songs that weren’t exclusively about ‘my girl friend left me’.. Still, I never felt I had to distinguish between ‘love songs’ – perhaps we should say songs about people and their relationships – and songs with a wider topical resonance. If a song demands to be written, I don’t take no notice because it’s in the ‘wrong’ genre or context.

Still, I had some difficulty in placing a couple of the songs in this collection because they’re ‘folkier’ – OK, acapella – than most of my output. So I finally went for an album of songs that fit together because they’re more about social comment and less about personal relationships (fictional and otherwise). That doesn’t, of course, mean they don’t fit into other contexts. Some have already been released on other albums, and others are likely to be in the future.

The album’s title comes from a poem by Kipling, though his conclusion in that poem, and indeed his politics in general, often diverge from my own convictions. On the other hand, I think he would have agreed with the relationship between iron as a foundation of weaponry and iron as a symbol or element of the supernatural.

Gold is for the mistress — silver for the maid —
Copper for the craftsman cunning at his trade.
“Good!” said the Baron, sitting in his hall,
“But Iron — Cold Iron — is master of them all.”

And here’s the tracklist.

  1. London 1983 (Harley) 06:28
  2. They Hang The Man (Anonymous-Harley) 01:43
  3. Song of Chivalry II (Harley) 03:58
  4. Nowhere To Nowhere (Pittaway-Harley) 02:11
  5. Soldier (You Come, You Go) (Harley) 01:06
  6. Long Stand (Harley) 03:00
  7. Orpheus and his Loot (Harley) 01:51
  8. For Phil Ochs (Harley) 05:35
  9. Calvary (Soldier of Fortune) (Harley) 01:30
  10. Paper City (Harley) 05:25
  11. Hands of the Craftsman (Harley) 05:35
  12. Jerry Jingalo (Harley) 01:06
  13. Circle (Harley) 08:14
  14. Diane (Going Out) (Harley) 05:19
  15. Paper Tiger (Harley) 02:37

 

David Harley

 

Old White Lightning [revisited demo]

[backup]

Ancient version remastered (somewhat). I don’t currently sing this one, but if I did these are probably the words I’d use.

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

David Harley

New Album – Dinosaur Tracks

Hat tip to Ken Bechtel, who for some reason suggested that ‘Dinosaur Tracks’ would be a suitable title for a Harley album. Be that as it may, the album is now available on Bandcamp.

Dinosaur Tracks cover art

When I started to do many more of my own songs, back in the 1970s, much of my repertoire was blues-based, and my own songs reflected that bias, including most of the songs here. The performances here are mostly demo-quality, mostly taken from cassettes rather than studio performances, but the fingers and the voice were generally in better shape than they are nowadays. The guitar in particular is generally pretty decent on these tracks. And while I’m less blues-oriented nowadays, I think these songs fit quite nicely into the genre, and my opinion is, of course, quite unbiased.

These are all ‘live’ recordings with no overdubs except for the lead break on ‘Lady Luck’ and the slide on ‘This Guitar Just Plays The Blues’. All the songs are mine, and all the guitars and vocals are  me.

1. Butterfly (Over The Hill)
2. Southside
3. Bootup Blues
4. Wearing Out My Shoes
5. Stranger In Uniform
6. Sylvie (Letting go)
7. This Guitar Just Plays The Blues
8. Scratch One Lover
9. Low In The Water
10. Soleares
11. Lady Luck
12. Drunk Last Night
13. Odd Job Man
14. Down To The River

Released July 12, 2021

David Harley

Mr Bojingles?

Could this be a whole new career in recording radio jingles? Probably not. But having been challenged on air by Ian Semple to write one for his Saturday lunchtime show on Coast FM, this is what I came up with. I think I must have been listening to the Watersons that morning. 🙂

Astonishingly, for someone who is one of the slowest songwriters in the world, I put it together in an hour or so. (Not counting the time spent asking myself why on earth I thought I could do this!)

I wasn’t at home to hear its debut in a show that also included jingles by several other people associated with the open mic scene around St. Ives, unfortunately, but here’s an MP3 version of the original.

David Harley

A Rainy Day Blues revisited

Backup:

A Rainy Day Blues (Harley) – all rights reserved

Some days are like a melody
But I can’t seem to hold the key
I don’t mind losing
I just wish I had a little more to lose

So I spend my day trying to keep  myself amused
Sitting here picking at a rainy day blues
I don’t mind losing
I just wish I had a little more to lose

It seems the road to fortune never ends
You play God all week and golf at weekends
I don’t mind losing
I just wish I had a little more to lose

And if we quit the rat-race we could have a ball
But you know those big wheels grind so small
I don’t mind losing
I just wish I had a little more to lose

You say you love me but it seems sometimes
You stuff my mouth with kisses and my ears with lies
I don’t mind losing
I just wish I had a little more to lose

David A. Harley