You might call this a sketch for the end of summer… Definitely not intended as the final version. By way of an experiment, the guitar here is tuned to ‘B Standard’, like a baritone guitar.
Sometimes your words at midnight stream through my memory
But your face is growing dimmer: I don’t know how it can be
That you’re gone from my life, yet you still haunt my dreams
And daybreak finds me wondering just what it all could mean
Walking through the woods in moonlight, there are no words left to say I stumble blindly through the shadow as the long years slip away And only now I realize that it’s too late to count the cost And I can only write those words to make my peace with those I’ve lost
So many nights lost, lamenting all the days
Opportunity knocked, but that same night it ran away
Your voice in my ear, your breath upon my skin
Closer than sweat, warmer than sin
Another morning broken, and reconstruction fails
Once more my train of thought has gone completely off the rails
But soon the world will turn without us, and new days won’t be broken
By the words we should have said or the ones best left unspoken
[Possibly a jongleur song from the 15th or 16th century: translation (C) by David A. Harley. ]
The tune used here is well known – I think it may be the one in the Penguin Book of Canadian Folksongs.
As I walked from my love’s wedding
By the spring where we once lay
From the top of a mighty oak tree
A songbird sang to me
It’s been so long that I’ve loved you I never will love again
Sing, happy nightingale,
Sing, for your heart is light
Sing out your notes so merry
But all that I can do is cry
My love has wed another
Though I was not to blame
I gave to him my love too freely
Now someone wiser bears his name
Oh, how I wish that the rosebud
Still flourished on the vine
And that my false true lover
Still returned this love of mine
Il y a longtemps que je t’aime Jamais je ne t’oublierai
I’ve always liked one particular tune to a French song (also widely found in Belgium and Canada), but the words as I’ve seen them have always seemed problematical to me, with the lover whining that he was unjustly discarded for being reluctant to give his lady a spray of roses. Hard to be too sympathetic… When I found some older versions where the protagonist was clearly female and the spray of roses symbolizes her maidenhead, it made more sense, though it also makes it more difficult for me to sing it convincingly myself. (I may attempt a male version that is nearer to the original sense, but that could be challenging.) This is a rather free translation, picking up a possible interpretation that the lady lost out by giving in too easy, and then being too ‘easy’ to marry.
C’est de mon ami Pierre, qui ne veut plus m’aimer, Pour un bouton de rose, que j’ai trop tôt donné.
Other versions suggest that she was dropped because she _didn’t_ give in. As well as making my chosen subtext a little clearer, I’ve compressed the story by dropping a couple of very common lines referring to the protagonist bathing, as that doesn’t seem to translate well. The song is often seen as a children’s song, but this approach might be considered a bit too explicit for that.
And yes, vining roses are a thing: they’re climbing roses trained to grow along fences and trellises.
A revisited arrangement. Still needs some work, but not far off, I think.
The Chuck Berry-Beri (spelling optional)
Words & Music by David A. Harley
I don’t feel very much like dancing
No song worth singing but the blues
I used to feel like some kind of sex bomb
Till you absconded with the fuse
I think I need a holiday
So I’m out here on a midnight cruise
I’ve got the Chuck Berry-beri
Got to get a shot of rhythm and blues
I guess there’s no time left for loving
Looking into your backyard
But back to you was just a step too far
The waves are blowing higher
And we were shaking at the end of the cruise
It’s a fascinating rhythm
But I need a shot of rhythm and blues
I thought I saw your nightlight flicker
But I don’t think there’s anyone at home
Maybe I’ll call you from the middle of nowhere
While I’m stranded by the side of the road
I still need a holiday
But I can’t afford another midnight cruise
Still I can’t break the habit
I need another shot of rhythm and blues
This is an unaccompanied version of ‘Young Hunting'(Child 68) I found when I was still at school in the 1960s, though I’ve undoubtedly changed it since. I didn’t have a tune for it, so I cobbled one together. Unfortunately, I don’t remember where I found the words, though I’ve come across a fairly similar American text (unattributed) since.