Actually a very rough demo, but there you go. Now I’ve remembered it exists, I’ll do some work on it.
Backstory: drinking with a friend in Manchester in the early 70s while both our girlfriends were out of town, making some musical plans. Seemed like a good idea at the time, but shortly after he and his girlfriend got married and moved (to Wales, I think): I moved somewhere else and married someone else entirely.
Why that story got into a song when so little of my back-catalogue is strictly autobiographical, I can’t say. It seems long ago and far away. Oh. Actually, it was long ago and far away (from Cornwall, at any rate).
Blues I blew: Words and Music copyright 1975 David Harley
There we were, my buddy and me
Two grass widowers out on a spree
Between the bar and the BBC
And nowhere much to go
Plans to make a wave or two
Adding up to two plus two
No complaints of nothing to do
With another 12-bar to blow
Another place, another day
Nothing very much to say
Another song I threw away
Another blues I blew
This is a sort of West London blues for the 1980s that probably demands an authentic glo’al stop here and there, but I don’t think I could carry that off, in spite of many years living surrounded by Londoners. There again, I don’t think Lily Allen carries it off either, but it doesn’t seem to have harmed her career.
You don’t hear much about inhalant and solvent abuse nowadays – certainly not here in Cornwall – perhaps because there are plenty of more glamorous highs around, but it certainly hasn’t gone away. This was one of a batch of songs I wrote for a review in the 1980s, but didn’t offer it for consideration because the show was going into quite different directions. I’ve never performed it in public that I remember.
Words & Music by David Harley: Copyright 1981
I stay away from dear old dad
He’s out of a job and gets to feeling bad
And it don’t take much for him to lose his rag
He hits the beer from time to time
And mum takes it out on me and Brian
But when we’re not at home we don’t much mind
It’s their way of cooling out
Of course I haven’t worked since I left school
No jobs around, and I’m no fool
I can get more money on the street as a rule
It would really get right up my snout
Stacking crates and washing bottles out
Anyway I like to get out and about
Got me ways of cooling out
Dad thinks mum’s got the dropsy bad
There’s this smell of glue all round the flat
But I’m away down the road with me blowsing bag
If he asks I’ll say Bri’s into Airfix kits
And off I’ll go with me Evostik
Down the park with me packet of crisps
Got me ways of cooling out
Mum thinks I’m always down with a cold
She says I’m off me nut but then I’m never home
When I’m reeling round on a toluene high
But you’ve got to do something when it all goes grey
So I’m back down the road with Mick and Dave
The caretaker chases us off the estate
But we’re only cooling out
Dad’d go spare if he knew, I bet
But he’s too busy drinking himself to death
And mum only sees what she wants to see
That’s her way of cooling out…
Copyright David Harley, 1976. All rights reserved.
This is an instrumental version of my setting from a poem from ‘A Shropshire Lad’. The song was originally intended to be sung unaccompanied, but it somehow developed a guitar accompaniment with a slight Middle Eastern feel, and the first section is very much based on that.
The faster second section was meant to have a more medieval feel, and includes an overdubbed bouzouki. Cittern would have been more appropriate, perhaps, but I didn’t have one to hand. Strangely, it seems to have finished up sounding a bit like the Philip Glass Ensemble (but with much less time between changes), but I like it. Still a work in progress.