Week 22: Soft light shine

This week’s song is suspiciously hopeful and positive – not sure what got into me – apologies to those who’ve come to expect doom and gloom in these reports from the frontline of my psyche. I had an insight one night in bed, that there is a gentle goodness in me that I just need to let be – it’s not necessary to push myself to be Mr Fantastico all the time, or to work constantly to improve myself – all I have to do is let that soft light shine. How’s that for positive and hopeful? That got me buzzing along gently for a while, and this song came out of that feeling. It has a kind of African feel in the guitar, which is nice for a change I think. Hope you like it.

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22 Soft light shine


Beautiful people bombard me from billboards
And rock stars and movie stars schmooze on TV
Compared to that fantasy landscape it feels like
I’m living in Losersville trudging through my drudgery

But I know a candle’s soft light
Can be seen for more than a mile in the night
So I’ll take this candle of mine
And let my soft light shine
No need to be an inferno
Let your soft light shine

Volumes are written by self-help professionals
Who promise to graciously give me the key
12 easy steps to unlock my potential
And rocket me out of my complete inadequacy


You really don’t need to be as clever as Einstein
Or calm as the Buddha or kind as Gandhi
Or pushing the limit like you’re Jimi Hendrix
Or punching them out like Muhammad Ali


Week 21: The hating

Every time I write a song I have a debate with myself about what’s appropriate to write a song about – part of me thinks there should be no rules about this, that I should be free to say whatever feels most urgent inside me when I pick up the guitar, and another part says, whoa!, you can’t say that, people will think you’re nuts. People tell me I should keep it light and positive, and that way I’ll win more people over to my music – and that generally just annoys me and makes me more determined to sing about the darker things that might be deemed socially unacceptable by some. I suppose for me, bringing the things we’re afraid of into the light somehow makes them less scary – and that’s a big part of why I write songs, to express the stuff that’s hidden, so that it becomes less confusing, and I can only hope that it might help others too. Otherwise, don’t listen to the words too hard, it’s a happy tune.

21 The hating


I picture myself as a fountain of good
I’d colour in the picture if I only could
But the colours in my pencil box are poisoned by the pigments of the hating

Nothing makes me happier than dishing out love
and all I ever wanted was to feel that buzz
but what am I supposed to do when most of me is caught up in the hating?

Why am I hating the rain?
Why am I hating the sun?
Why am I berating everyone who comes along to try to free me of the hating?
Why’m I allergic to love?
With so much bile in my blood?
Why do I tumble in the feeling that I’m falling in the moment of relating?

I wake up in the morning looking for the light
But the paper in the kitchen gets me all uptight
And soon I’m in a fight to keep alive the light of love above the hating

Curse those chicken-eyed painted clowns
Filling up the sky with their empty sounds
Waiting on the edges of my head to take me closer to the hating


Slowly I’m learning to let myself be
A mixture of the loving and the hating in me
And the thing that I am learning is how to love in spite of all the hating

Don’t hate yourself for hating it’s human thing
But even as you hate there’s something else you can bring
You’ve got to find a way to let the love exist beside the hating

Week 20: Song without a home

I’d had the guitar part for this song for a few months but could never find the words and melody to do it justice. I finally found what I was looking for by letting the spirit of African music take over for a while, maybe a bit of a Geoffrey Oryema feeling. I let the sound of the words take precedence, not worrying too much about the meaning – just looking for rapid-fire words that worked rhythmically – the meaning that came out of these words was almost accidental – whatever my subconscious threw up in response to the rhythm. I’m very happy with the result – this one might be a keeper. Hope you like it.

      Song without a home - Simon Van Gend

20 Song without a home


It couldn’t a got any better the weather was sunny and I was on my own
Second to none I was having the fun of a hundred and one little children that come out to play all alone
And somehow the rhythm of every decision and all of my living had set the tone
I couldn’t believe I was there to receive all the fevery feelings awake to the feeling of freedom to roam

Sadder now to know you’re not awake to see this day
Cut the rope and watch it drift away
Drop the match and watch the fire burn it all to grey
Friday frees the wasted week to Saturday

I liked her I shook more than I shoulda shook
I did not know that she was a shaker
And the feelings I had that I thought she mistook
Were exactly the feelings that had what it took wake her

Colour me in with your love on the wing you deliver the thing that keeps me from falling in
And out in the sun we got everyone with a loving emotion we swim in that ocean we dive and we spin
It’s a feeling I’m getting I’m rubbing my head and I’m betting on letting my better part understand
Shake the morning you break the form you roll on the beach and you let your thoughts fly as you lie in the sand

We lay awake and watched the wheel of stars go round the world
What is this place, adrift in space, a boy and a girl
How can it be that I’m awake to see it all unfold
When everywhere is emptiness and nothing to hold

I liked her I shook more than I shoulda shook
I did not know that she was a shaker
And the feelings I had that I thought she mistook
Were exactly the feelings that had what it took wake her

Week 19: Tantalise Me

Another song I’ve had in my head for a while, with no words, just the opening line. I sat down one afternoon and just let the words come without thinking too hard about them – not aiming at a specific meaning, just floating on the nostalgic feelings that the melody and that first line conjured up. A good song for staring off into the distance and dreaming too, I think. Look ma, no chorus.

      Tantalise me - Simon Van Gend

19 Tantalise me
Tantalise me with memories of summery watery power
Days of glory with years of my feelings compressed in an hour
Though we tried to hold back every moment of every day
We could not keep from rushing on to where the future lay

Fleeting moments where memories spill into light for a while
Doesn’t help you go chasing the thought that gives rise to the smile
Every feeling comes and goes it’s no use asking why
It’s no use you go chasing birds sit back and watch them fly

Please remind me to let you imagine the stories I’ll tell
I can only hope that you’ve lived through these feelings as well
Maybe all we do is search for glimpses of our souls
In every story every movie everything we’re told

When I’m crying, it’s joy at remembering where I belong
And when I’m laughing, it’s joy at forgetting the ground that I’m on
Somewhere someone told me that you’ve got to work to be free
But deeper in me I know I must just let myself be