Category Archives: David Harley

Chuck Berry-beri [less rough demo]

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 perhaps I need a holiday
So I’m out here on a midnight cruise
I think 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
Dissatisfaction guaranteed
But back to you was just a step too far

The waves were 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 with the news from nowhere
While I’m stranded by the side of the road

Maybe 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

Words and music copyright March 2019 by David Harley

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Now How Long? [demo]

Copyright David Harley 1971

A very young song with an obvious blues influence, though not a conventional blues structure. For some reason it came back to my head recently and refuses to dislodge, so there should be a more confident version here eventually.

Heard some lonesome whistle blow
How long Lord?
I guess it must be time to go
How long?
When you get those hard luck blues
All you need is walking shoes
How long Lord?
Now how long?

Empty pockets, empty bed
How long Lord?
Empty dreams in an empty head
How long?
When you get those walking blues
Radio just plays bad news
How long Lord?
Now how long?

Standing by the railroad track
How long Lord?
Heading out with no way back
How long?
Waiting in the pouring rain
Must have missed that Gospel Train
How long Lord?
Now how long?

[Optional verse 3]

When you hear those cold winds blow
How long Lord?
You know the way you have to go
How long?
Thought I heard the DJ say
Got no reason left to stay
How long Lord?
Now how long?

Wrekin [demo]

Neither the words nor the tune are quite set in stone yet… If you’re familiar with the Welsh Marches Line, it probably won’t surprise you that the first draft of this was born on my way from Shrewsbury to Newport.

Wrekin (words and music by David Harley)

The Abbey watches my train crawling southward
Thoughts of Cadfael kneeling in his cell
All along the Marches line, myth and history, prose and rhyme
But those are tales I won’t be here to tell

The hill is crouching like a cat at play
Its beacon flashing red across the plain
Once we were all friends around the Wrekin
But some will never pass this way again

Lawley and Caradoc fill my window
Facing down the Longmynd, lost in rain
But I’m weighed down with the creaks and groans of all the years I’ve known
And I don’t think I’ll walk these hills again

The hill is crouching like a cat at play
Its beacon flashing red across the plain
Once we were all friends around the Wrekin
But some will never pass this way again

The castle dreams its humble glories
Glories that will never come again
Across the Shropshire hills, the rain is blowing still
But the Marcher Lords won’t ride this way gain

The hill is crouching like a cat at play
Its beacon flashing red across the plain
Once we were all friends around the Wrekin
But some will never pass this way again

The royal ghosts of Catherine and Arthur
May walk the paths of Whitcliffe now and then
Housman’s ashes grace the Cathedral of the Marches
And he will not walk Ludlow’s streets again

The hill is crouching like a cat at play
Its beacon flashing red across the plain
Once we were all friends around the Wrekin
But some will never pass this way again

And I may never pass this way again

My Boy Jack [demo]

My setting of the poem by Rudyard Kipling. It’s often assumed that it refers to the loss of his son John, presumed killed at the Battle of Loos in 1915. The confusion was probably increased by the TV adaptation of David Craig’s play, which missed out the 3rd Act and finished with Kipling reciting the poem. However, while Kipling’s own grief did, no doubt, contribute to the overall tone of the poem, it was first published at the top of a series of articles on the Battle of Jutland, in which the British fleet sustained heavy losses, and it seems to me (and others) that, given the importance of ‘the tide’ in the poem, that the name Jack probably reflects the more generic ‘Jack Tar’. (While the earlier ‘Tommy; has a very different tone, it does use the generic name ‘Tommy Atkins’ in a somewhat similar way.)

‘My Boy Jack’
1914-18

“HAVE you news of my boy Jack? ”
Not this tide.
“When d’you think that he’ll come back?”
Not with this wind blowing, and this tide.

“Has any one else had word of him?”
Not this tide.
For what is sunk will hardly swim,
Not with this wind blowing, and this tide.

“Oh, dear, what comfort can I find?”
None this tide,
Nor any tide,
Except he did not shame his kind—
Not even with that wind blowing, and that tide.

Then hold your head up all the more,
This tide,
And every tide;
Because he was the son you bore,
And gave to that wind blowing and that tide. 

David Harley

Song Without Warning (demo)

This is my box of dreams, my nest of nightmares
Words and lines and verses in a cage
Fragments of conversation
Thoughts that barely made the page

Some days, I think someday I’ll write them
All the verses in vitro in this room
Someday these little birds will find the way to fly away
They won’t need me anymore and they’ll be gone

Sometimes I call myself a writer
Though I’m afraid I might have lost the paperwork
Till they tap me on the shoulder and remind me
My poetic licence hasn’t been revoked

When my last song has been written
When I’ve picked my last chord
My box of dreams will still be here
Overflowing still with orphaned words

For every song without warning
That somehow made it to be heard
There’ll still be all these scraps of recollection
Thoughts and dreams that never found their words

Sometimes I call myself a writer
Though I’m afraid I might have lost the paperwork
Till they tap me on the shoulder and remind me
My poetic licence hasn’t been revoked

(c) 2018 David Harley: all rights reserved