Week 14: Time whizzes away

The older I get the faster time seems to go, and the more I seem to think about how fast life is going. When I was a child, life seemed endless, but with each passing year it gets more and more obvious that it’s not. Maybe this is a mid-life crisis song! Hope you like it.

Thanks again to Popular Aesthetics for the great video.

      Time whizzes away - Simon Van Gend

14 Time whizzes away


Time whizzes away
It tweaks the price of gold
It’s the thing that makes my coffee cold
It’s the thing that slowly drains the fun out of the weekend

Time whizzes away
It greened our barren sphere
And it keeps pushing up the price of beer
And it sends us from joy to despair and back again

But time is slippery stuff
When it’s good you can never have enough
But when it’s bad it inches along
And you think that the clock must be wrong
And a day that you spend watching whales
Isn’t equal to a day spent in jail
What a child lives through in a week
To an old man’s just a heartbeat

Time whizzes away
While I was preoccupied
With the nuts and bolts of getting by
It quietly snuck another ten years past me

Time whizzes away
It takes the flawless boy
And slowly saps him of his joy
And leaves him old and looking back in wonder


Time makes the perfect rose
Wilt and whither and decompose
Time makes the pumpkins grow
Tell me where did the summer go?

Time whizzes away
When you’re young you feel immune
To the feeling that your life will be over soon
But when you’re old you feel you know it too well

Time whizzes away
To the boy the old man seems
Like something he could never be
But slowly and surely life will teach him


Time whizzes away
It rides the cosmic bus
And it doesn’t give a damn about all of us
’cause we’re just specks of cosmic dust on the windscreen

Week 13: Lonely thing

Another mostly unpremeditated song – I just let the words tumble out and I liked them and writing it was mostly a fairly painless experience – got the whole thing down in less than an hour. I like it when songs happen this way because it feels to me like the words and the emotions are tightly connected – the feeling in the melody is the same feeling that produced the words – so melody and lyrics feel like they belong together. I imagine everyone gets lonely, even those who are in relationships and have families. We have moments of joy when we find real connection, but it seems to me that’s the exception rather than the rule. But it’s not always lonely, and sometimes it feels like life’s lonely and sometimes it doesn’t, so call it a lie or call it the truth, life’s a lonely thing.

The video for this one isn’t quite ready, it’s been promised for Monday, but the good news is that the mini-documentary that Popular Aesthetics shot is ready, so I’ve posted that below the lyrics.

      SVG Song 1 Camera - Simon Van Gend

13 Lonely thing


Dipping in the movies or staring at the wall
All of my mistakes now back to me crawl
I’m the lazy backward Sunday evening fool again

Come on settle down now no need to be extreme
Just because you’re lonely doesn’t mean that you’re mean
The way you carry on you’d think you were in some kind of pain

Call it a lie, or call it the truth, life’s a lonely thing
That’s why when we meet we feel such pleasure inside
Don’t mistake the love you fake for the real thing
The best thing we can do is try to find out where we hide

Everyone’s a loser ‘cause everything we win
Either wanders off somewhere or ends up in the bin
Maybe we get just as much love as we can stand to lose

You’re never going to fly till you learn how to fall
Absolutely nowhere is where you’ll find it all
And life’s biggest stories never make it to the evening news


Slipping to the edges looking for a sign
That A you’re going crazy or B you’re doing fine
Or none of the above and why do you ask don’t you see it’s a waste of time?

Every other weekend I dig myself a hole
Spend the better part of Saturday searching for my soul
And the better part of Sunday piecing together my puzzled mind


Week 12: Nobody knows

A friend was telling me about some new version of the truth she’d discovered, and it got me thinking, maybe nobody really knows anything about the big mysteries, and every time someone comes up with some new answer, it’s really just to comfort us and make us feel a little better about being unable to fathom the truth about the why the universe exists and what we’re here for.

Thanks to the lovely people at Popular Aesthetics for the videos of this and the next few weeks’ songs. They came along to the studio to film the recording session. They also came to my house to shoot a mini-documentary about the whole ‘a song a week’ thing, which they’ll be putting out next week. There is also a video coming next week of last week’s song ‘Big fat nothing’. Popular Aesthetics have a youtube channel where you can subscribe to their posts – lots of cool documentaries about interesting culture-related stuff in and around Cape Town. Enjoy!

      Nobody knows - Simon van Gend

12 Nobody knows


I don’t know why I get to feeling empty
When I’m surrounded by things I keep to make my life full
And I don’t know why I get to feeling lonely
When I’m surrounded by people that push and that pull

And I don’t know why I swear in the traffic
When most of the time I’m gentle and kind
And I don’t know why I get lost in the attic
With the whole house full of treasures to find

Nobody knows, but everyone loves
To suppose that they know, but nobody does
All of our thoughts and all of our wisdom
Are just to give us comfort as we stumble through the dark morass

And I don’t know why I keep asking these questions
When I know that the answers are not in my mind
And I don’t know why I’m constantly trying
To fix myself when I know that I’m perfectly fine

And I don’t know why I’m constantly thinking
About what I’m thinking and then about that
And I don’t know why I’m always striving
When I know what I want comes when I relax


And now we’ve got if figured out that the Earth goes round the sun
But no-one really understands why
The Universe from nothing burst and sprayed the sky with a billion suns

Sometimes I think I’ve figured out something
The reason behind all this discomfort I’m in
And then for a while you’ll see my mood brighten
But soon the confusion takes over again

Newton and Darwin made everything clearer
And everything seemed to make sense for a while
But Heisenberg threw us back into wonder
At Schroedinger’s mystical Cheschire Cat smile

… and through the thickest jungle hack and on and on into the black

Week 11: Big fat nothing

      Big fat nothing - Simon van Gend

11 Big fat nothing

How much of what we do is motivated by our fear of amounting to nothing, or of ending up on the street, or of being unwanted and unloved, or because we know we’re going to die one day and had better be as alive as we can be while we’re here? This song is me wondering about all this out loud. Maybe the song itself is another of my attempts to be something, rather than nothing, a reaction to my fear of the emptiness. Hope it amounts to something.


I pass the bergie on the street his lowdown luck just triggers my conceit
The love I got that fed me up and filled my life with all I proudly bleat
Feel so elite
But deep inside the unnamed dread
The heebie jeebies spinning in my head
What you got to do that for,
Remind me just how thin the love is spread?

Everything I ever get done
And everything I’ll ever do
All the little glories that I’ve won
And everyone I’ve tried to screw
It’s all because I’m terrified
Of the big fat nothing

I see a girl she makes me hot I try to find a way to make her feel the love I’ve got
But before I find the words to speak the fear steps in and ties my tongue in knots
And the bubble pops
And oh to think that maybe she
Wanted that thing just as much as me
Seems the fear of falling down
Trips me up and send me to my knees


The bleakest fears are stirred in me by angels carved in stone in cemeteries
Already as a child I knew that someday all I was would cease to be
The warmth would freeze
So here I sit, writing a song
Hoping it will somehow make me strong
Fleshing out the empty space
Trying to make some love out of an ache

Week 10: From the dawn into the black

      From the dawn into the black - Simon Van Gend

10 From the dawn into the black
This is my first kalimba song. The lyrics were completely un-premeditated – I just put down the words as they popped into my head, letting the song be what it wanted to be. The recording process was a little different from our usual method, as I put down the kalimba part first, then overdubbed the vocal. I was really happy when Chris sent me the mix, as I wasn’t expecting it to turn out quite this well. In case you’re wondering about the that haunting tremolo effect on the kalimba – the kalimba has a hole in the soundbox and the effect is created by moving the left thumb in and out over the hole while the right thumb plucks the metal tines, or vice versa. Have a look here to see what the kalimba looks like. Enjoy!


Its hard to hear myself above the buzz
Of all the things that this mind does
To try to catch the wind of love

I try so hard to find an opening
To maybe let forgiveness in
For all the broken things I’ve been

Time takes me further down the track
Sneaking up behind my back
From the dawn into the black

I try so hard to be what this boy felt
Would help to make the hard heart melt
And keep him from the leather belt

It seems the habits of the angry child
Have got my adult mind beguiled
Deep inside me running wild

I’m sure that everybody does their best
To overcome their load of stress
but none of us is fairly blessed

It’s luck that dishes up the love we get
And leaves the dreams of some unmet
And fills their eyes with sad regret