Week 5: Find my grace

      Find my grace - Simon Van Gend

05 Find my grace
I’m learning a lot by having to put myself on the spot to create to a deadline. The process is forcing me right up against all the things that usually stop me from writing – fear of making bad art, fear of showing my true vulnerable self, fear of the nothingness before ideas come.  By being forced to push through these fears, I guess I’m getting better at acting despite them, and learning to ignore the internal critic that keeps on yakking the whole way through the process of writing a song. I’m feeling inspired by the idea that the only way to get better at anything is to do lots of it – to risk making bad art, knowing that the more songs I write, the more likely I am to write really good ones.

I have a folder on my computer where I keep little recordings of bits and pieces of song ideas and riffs. I was going through it looking for inspiration for this week’s song when I came across the riff you hear at the start of the song. I had no memory of recording it so it was like a gift out of nowhere, and it got me excited enough to write the song. Another song about how lost I feel sometimes, and how I’m going to find myself somehow. Hope you like it.


Oh my oh I’ve got a problem
Feeling the love that I find
The feelings push and backwards I shove them
I conquer them every time

Way back before I was broken
And buried inside of my mind
I was open to every token
Of every attempt to be kind

Out in the wind is a song
About a boy who is lost
About a man who can never belong
To a particular place
Or a particular time
With a shadowy face
And a flickery mind

Oh my oh I’ve got a problem
Stepping outside of my head
Seems no matter how much I prod them
The feelings prefer to be dead

Do you remember the sparkle and laughter
that took us along for the ride?
Didn’t you wonder what happened thereafter
That made me go hiding inside?


I’ll find my grace
I’ll figure out it’s hiding place
Maybe I’ll regain the face
That I had before
I lost it somewhere in a barren land
To things I couldn’t understand

Oh my oh I’ve got a problem
Keeping a smile on my face
All alone in the love and the goodness
Scattered all over the place

Sometimes I sit and I wonder
How different things could have been
If I’d never boarded that train
And seen the things that I’ve seen



Week 4: Sunday evening fear

      Sunday evening fear - Simon Van Gend

04 Sunday evening fear
Still messing around with the tuning of the first three songs. (I promise I’ll change key soon.) I was inspired by a rhythm I heard watching Adamu, a local musician from Angola. I asked him to explain it to me in the break and he said it was a three-beat laid on top of a two-beat rhythm. I came home and found what I think is a way to play this on my guitar, and after messing around with it a while found myself singing the beginnings of this song. Hope you like it.


Sleeping alone on the edges I wait for the dawn
Hoping that somehow the shape of my thoughts will take form
Silently chanting this mantra as I start to fall
To be kind’s the sacredest state of them all

Sometimes I find myself wondering how things would seem
To someone I’d magically programmed to see what I’ve seen
And do what I’ve done and to know and to feel what I’ve been
Would they have dreamed up a similar scheme

The Sunday evening fear of having no one
Leads me to ponder the thing I’ve become
Was it something I said or could it be something I’ve done?
Where are the people that I should be moving among?

I feel like a Frisbee that somebody chucked on the roof
Forgotten and sun-baked and lonely and lost and aloof
If life was a movie I’d be the star of the spoof
An elaborate theory without any proof

If I was a boy I would chase you and throw you a ball
If you were a tedious talker, then I’d be a bore
If you were a sold out show I’d call the encore
If you were lost on the ocean then I’d be your shore


We compromise
Our destinies distorting
To the changing weather patterns of our fortune


Week 3: Everything you’ve got

      Everything you've got - Simon van Gend

03 Everything you've got
Sometimes when I’m trying to write a song and feeling stuck, I start noodling on my guitar to avoid the frustration, and often that kind of mindless playfulness gives rise to a whole new idea. That was how this song started, and the excitement of stumbling on a new song kept me going long enough to get all the verses and chorus down before bedtime. I guess it sums up how I was feeling that evening. Once again, produced by Chris Tuck. Enjoy.


You know how it feels when you’ve lost the urge
Everything you love is reduced to words
And your song feels lonely and wrong

Every night you try to contain the fear
That you’re getting older but you can’t get near
To the place you feel you belong

Settle down and rub your head and hope for something good instead
of all the fear of everything you’re not
Slide away from everything that robs you of the will to sing
And feast yourself on everything you’ve got

All that you can love is the fleeting moment
You find a way to grant yourself a little atonement
But strong is the fear that you’re wrong

Aching in the face of the disconnect
Between the things you want and the things you get
Seems prescribed that we’re dissatisfied


Do I really feel there’s someway through?
Hypnotized by little lies I do

The food in my kitchen can’t feed my hunger
Woe to the village I pillage and plunder
To feed this never-ending need

Somehow there’s river running deep between
The things we say and the things we mean
How we con and string each other along


Week 2: Ten-ton truck (or I’m not really here)

      Ten ton truck - Simon van Gend

02 Ten Ton Truck
This DADF#BD tuning is spawning so many song ideas. This song began while I was watching House of Cards and noodling on my guitar. Not sure what it is about that show – maybe it’s Kevin Spacey’s dark intensity, but it’s not the first time I’ve come up with a good idea while watching it. There’s also something about noodling on the guitar while watching TV that seems to be good for coming up with ideas – maybe because I’m not trying too hard, and the part of my mind that usually obstructs my creativity is otherwise occupied. Anyway, the guitar part in the first verse just popped out and that got me excited and soon I was well into writing the whole song. It’s about wishing that I didn’t need love, that I could feel fine just being totally alone, or something like that. Hope you like it.

My producer friend Chris Tuck has kindly offered to record some songs for this blog, so I spent the other evening in his studio recording this and last week’s song (which I’ve reposted). It think it’s sounding really nice and clear and full and present – a great improvement on my home-studio attempts.

Stick around and listen here, it wasn’t me I wasn’t there
Hopelessly I wait for maybes
I dig around inside my head, forgotten feelings never dead
There’s nobody now to save me

Don’t you need somebody to love?
No I just wish my heart was a ten-ton truck
That could carry me all alone
Safely down through the danger zone
And if it was up to me
I’d close my heart like an anemone
Don’t you try to poke me now
Or smooth the frown on my furrowed brow
Cause I’m not really here now anyhow

I recall a different time, I was yours and you were mine
I need to see your face now baby
if you’d be kind I wouldn’t mind to try again a second time
Leave me now or love me baby


I see you on the edges of my dreams
Out beyond the breakers on my seas
All alone I sit and wonder
In this spell you’ve put me under
Wondering how wondering why and what could’ve been

A little child inside me said, I want to take this one to bed
And there we lay like newborn gentry
I was amazed my eyes were glazed, but you were calm and unafraid
Like a river flowing gently