Roy Harper – For Longer Than It Takes

Another great love song from the album Once.

Roy Harper – For Longer Than It Takes – YouTube

Roy Harper – Another Day

One of the most beautiful love songs ever written with a perfect production. David Bedford’s strings are so brilliantly arranged that they really augment the performance.

I was twice privileged.

I was among the first to hear it performed. At that time I was going to every gig I could get to – and that was most of them – two or three a week. When he introduced it into his act I was there.

‘Another Day’ knocked me out the minute I heard it. He won’t like me saying but I remember thinking at the time that the warble in his voice sounded a bit Donovanish. The song instantly quietened the audience. They were rapt. Everyone recognised that it was special right from the off.

Those early gigs were such a range of contrasting songs. Roy had his rousing songs of anger and fury, like ‘Whiteman’, which he sang with great passion, he had his zany humorous pieces, like ‘Feeling all the Saturday’, which he peppered the gig with, he had instrumentals like ‘One for Al(l)’ and he had these haunting love songs like ‘Another Day’. Perfect.

He never used a setlist back then. He intuitively moved from one to another, with lengthy diatribes, discussions, observations, explanations and comments in-between, as the mood suited – altering the tempo and feel of the gig accordingly. Those gigs were often up to three hours long and sometimes a third of them would be Roy talking. I enjoyed the talking as much as the playing. Roy shared. It wasn’t your standard performance. If it came into his head it came out of his mouth. There were humour, wry observation and all manner of asides.

I was also there in Abbey Road studio when Roy recorded it. I remember watching him from the control room willing it to be perfect. It was. I don’t remember David Bedford and the strings though. That must have been added later.

‘Another Day’ is still one of my favourite songs these fifty years on.

I felt like I’d been fortunate enough to witness history being made.

Today’s Roy Harper track – East of the Sun

This is one of Roy’s most beautiful love songs. A song about a youthful romance, making love in among the sand dunes on the beach at Lytham St Anne’s where he was growing up. It takes me straight back to the days of my own youth.

It has a haunting melody and is sung with such tenderness.

I remember him recording this in Abbey Road Studios. He was having great trouble with the harmonica. It kept going out of tune. He was getting very frustrated. They could not find a replacement in the right key anywhere in the entire studios. It was late at night so nowhere was open to purchase one. They tried soaking it in water.

Eventually they managed to get it to last for the duration of the song.

The relief was apparent. I remember Roy smashing the harmonica in the jamb of the heavy studio door.

I had taken this annoying American girl who was staying with us along with me and she dutifully picked up the mangled harmonica. I had it lying around the house for ages! Somehow it got lost down the years!

Aaaah – the memories!

The bumble bees stumble
The butterflies tumble
The birds on the water-line stare
The heavens have crowned her
The star grass grows round her
Her dreams fill the very still air
Just east of the sun
Where our loving was done
I can still see her breasts on the edge of the morning
I can still taste the salt in her hair

I thought I needed so beautiful memories to buoy me up in lockdown today!