Suffer Well

by Simon van Gend Band

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The fruit of Simon's year-long "Song a Week" challenge, where he wrote 52 songs in 52 weeks. This album is made up of the 14 best of those songs.


released September 3, 2015

lovingly created by
all songs written by simon van gend
arranged by simon van gend, ross campbell and chris tuck
simon van gend – guitar and vocals
ross campbell – drums, backing vocals
christopher tuck – electric guitar, keys and electronica, backing vocals
(tracks 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10)
eric michot – bass, backing vocals (tracks 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 8, 12, 13, 14)
brydon bolton – double bass (tracks 6, 7, 9, 11, 12)
gene kierman – guitar, french horn, backing vocals (tracks 2, 4, 7, 10, 14)
frances kierman – backing vocals (tracks 7, 10, 11, 14)
proudly recorded on TUL microphones
album artwork by sanet stegmann
special thanks to zanri kritzinger for getting all our ducks in a row



all rights reserved


Simon van Gend Band Cape Town, South Africa

Simon and the Band à Parte are an introspective indie/folk/rock band from Cape Town, whose music has been described as a unique blend of folksie foot-tapping red wine fireside poetry. This trio, with Simon on vocals and acoustic guitar, Eric Michot on bass and Ross Campbell on drums, has released 3 albums to date, with a 4th due to be released on 30th June this year. ... more

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Track Name: Like Little Fleas
I sold my meanest face and all the wasted time for bags of nothing
I love the way you fold your grace and lay the roast deep in the oven
And don’t be such a ghost who coasts alone and lost from all my loving
It only takes a wish or two at most to push you back to buzzing
Each day I wake amazed at what my mind has raised in lazy dreaming
It casts a frazzled light across the day and colours it with feeling
I didn’t mean to fall away from all your silver starlight streaming
But it only takes a wish or two at most to push me back to beaming

Like little fleas we ride on the back of a dog
And the dog’s chasing a bird who’s chasing the sun
And the sun is sinking down down down
Even the one who rules the world
Is only a speck on a tiny rock
Near a tiny star on the edge of a galaxy
that’s one of billions and billions and billions

And far along the road where love has gone you’ll see a thin man plodding
And where his horses felt they’d had enough and fell you’ll find him flogging
The thinnest wedge of fear can take you far from here and leave you longing
But it only takes a wish or two at most to push you back to belonging


It doesn’t matter how you feel about what you’ve done right or wrong
Or what you said to whom and when
Cause at the end of every day the sun still goes down down down
Track Name: Vitamin X
I’ve got a million nerves
Serving me up what I deserve
You swerve right and I swerve left
I spin round at your behest

And all the things I could’ve said
Read like books inside my head
Don’t you love the way I sway
Seasick starbound sail away

Vitamin A I love the way
You help me see the light of day
Vitamin C up in the tree
We love the fruit that grows for free
Vitamin D the yellow sun
Shining down on everyone
Still I feel a little perplexed
Think I might need a little Vitamin X

Causes great and causes small
Give me pause and make me stall
Kick me loose to free the next
From what has not happened yet

Juggle me up and juggle me down
Coddle me deep in your eiderdown
Spare a thought for the big idea
That won’t let any feelings near


Some days I couldn’t give a hoot
Pull myself up by the roots
Fling myself across the day
I don’t mind the things I say

But sometimes everything grinds back in
I get lost in wondering
Who’s to crawl and who’s to fly?
Who’s to laugh and who’s to cry?
Track Name: 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
Track Name: Watermelons
All I ever do is think about what’s to come
And how it’s gonna be when my work is done
And all the joy I’m gonna feel when obstacles are overcome

No matter where or when or who I’m with
I’m always waiting for a bigger fish
And all my hopes are mixed up in this myth that the best is yet to come

This is the time, this is the place
Let the juice run down your face
It’s time to bring the watermelons in
All your wealth don’t leave it on the shelf
Help yourself to all that the moment brings

How long you gonna sit around and wait
For bigger fish to bite upon your bait,
For some sweet magical idea to wake you up to really being here?

Happiness is just over the hill
But over that one there’s another still
And even when you’ve reached the peak I bet that you will still find more to seek


The urge to run from what’s inside of me
Keeps me trapped inside the yet to be
And like a stone I skip along the surface of the ocean that is me

Slowly I am learning how to sink
Beneath the layers of the thoughts I think
Into the world of what I feel where there’s a chance to make the moment real

Track Name: Google Song
No wonder I’m nervous
Google took a photo of the bushes outside my home
Are they here to serve us
Or sell us the illusion that we’re never gonna be alone?
Don’t you know the feeling hunting for the next thing
Fill up the space left by the last thing?
Everyone a piston pumping in the engine
What we really feel there’s no time to mention

And all this information doesn’t seem to change the way I feel
And everything we share is haunted by things we can’t reveal
Am I awake or half asleep and how much of this do I keep?
Am I a sheep that’s herded on by the need to belong?

But I love it, I’m hooked in
A couple more clicks and I gain another juicy fact,
But I don’t gain much wisdom
And the hours that I’ve wasted are never coming back
Everything I want is somewhere on the network
If anything is broken soon I’m an expert
Jumping to the sound of a new notification
Swimming in a sea of surplus information


Totally beguiled I’m strung along for miles and miles
And I’ll do anything to hide the fact I’m broken up inside
And I waste hours I can’t afford just to pretend that I’m not bored
And I feel like I’m at the end, though I just gained another friend

I’m somehow still lonely
Even though I’ve got about a gigabyte of facebook friends
But none of them phones me
To tell me how they feel about the way we all pretend
Just the other day my internet was broken
Could not believe the fear that was awoken
Stumbled round the house bumping into feelings
Fearful of the hush and what it was revealing

Track Name: Be My Echo
Help me to find a way to stay soft in all this hardness
My skin is starting to grow so tough, in all this heartlessness

Be my echo
I’ll be your echo too
Two sounds colliding and rebounding in the blue

Help me remember my reasons to smile in all this sadness
Give me a place to unload my tears, when the world is cold


Somehow I keep on rolling forward through my days
And though sometimes I stumble, still I find my way
Somehow I keep on finding colours in my grey
And though I sometimes mumble, still I find the words to say

Help me to weather my dangerous moods and help me move through
This string of tiny courageous moves connecting me to you
Track Name: Small Soft Animal
Something inside of me is calling, me imploring me to come on home from the war
They’re searching the hills and forests and the fields for the guy who won’t fight any more
Something is shaking me awaking me and making me believe in my freedom to be
At home in the ups and downs as I’m rolling and I’m coasting down from the highlands to the sea
And what I got’s enough for me
And there’s peace in the lands for as far as my eyes can see

The sun is shining on my window sill
Talk to me about the ordinary love
That requires no special skill
Just an opening and a letting it run in until you’re full
No special force of will
Just a small, soft animal

Sooner or later gonna get the renovator to pull down these crumbling walls
Feel that sunshine spill into spaces where before there was no light at all
Under the moon I’ve been asleep in my cocoon but now I’m spreading my wings in the light
Soon I’ll rise gonna head into the sky with a song in my head and a feeling that everything’s gonna be alright
cos what I got’s enough for me
And there’s peace in the lands for as far as my eyes can see

The sun is shining on my window sill
Talk to me about the ordinary love
That requires no special skill
Just an opening and a letting it run in until you’re full
No special force of will
Just a small, soft animal

There’s something in a mammal that seeks out the warmth of another
And the child will dig a tunnel for miles to get back to the mother
It’s the thing that makes a stranger change into a brother
and sometimes if you’re lucky it’ll turn a stranger into a lover

Can you feel now the moon is full?
Help yourself to all the dreams you find scattered among the moonbeams
No special force of will
Just a small, soft animal
Track Name: Slow Down
I don’t know where to begin
To weed out the ailing within
Deadly and even it flows
Pulling me down as it goes

But then I slow down, and I see you
Despite all my fear you have always been there
And you slow down, and you see me
Through the fear

Under the evening sky
I kiss all my troubles goodbye
I rise to the smell of the wind
and cover the tracks of my sins

And then I slow down, and I see you
Despite all my fear you have always been there
And you slow down, and you see me
Through the fear

It’s easier playing this game
Believing we are what we claim
Promoting ourselves up the chain
Waxing ourselves as we wane

Then I slow down, and I see you
Despite all my fear you have always been there
And you slow down, and you see me
Through the fear
Track Name: Suffer Well
Muhammad Ali stung like a bee
But said he couldn’t stand the training
But he swallowed the pain, ’cause he wanted to gain
All the things he wound up gaining

And Dostoyevsky said this about those
With hearts that love and with minds that know
The bigger you are and the more that you care
The greater the pain you’ll have to bear

And each of us must learn in our own way
To silently relate
To everything we hate
’Cause sure enough for everyone
The time will come
For suffering to be done
And when it casts its spell
I hope you suffer well

Keats said this and I agree
That all this pain is necessary
Like squeezing diamonds out of coal
It turns a mind into a soul

and Nietsche’s life was strange and dark
But what he said was on the mark
That we’ll survive our suffering
By learning to see what it means


Now I’m not saying you’ve got to bottle it in
Sometimes it’s good to offload on your friends
But everyone has problems of their own
And mostly we must face them all alone

Track Name: Anxiety
I did all I could do
To be like the wind
To blow a hole in the heart of all that
Makes me think I’ve sinned

I’ve lived deep in the wrong
I took all I could take
I never thought I’d be naked baking
Shame deep in the cake

Hurt left an echo in my brain
Sweet watermelon summer stain

Tiny worries bloom inside of me
I lie awake and watch the coastguard lying lost at sea
If you find her send her back to me
I couldn’t see her through these layers of anxiety

I never wanted a lot
Just the freedom to feel
To let the love of a summer evening
Fill me with its zeal

To stand proud in the world
To laugh hard at the fear
To catapult my emotions far and
Wide and high an clear

Hurt wove an aching in my bones
Those tiny lines drew me alone


It’s not easy to see
Back to when it began
I try so hard to remember but I
Can’t see who I am

I try so hard to be cool
To be easy and free
To be the kind of compadre that might
Bring her back to me

Hurt left it’s patterns on my soul
These things are way /beyond control

Track Name: After Therapy
Everything is jumping at me
All the colours thrive in the sun
Every little scent’s alive now
Coffee grounds and cinnamon buns

Suddenly the thoughts I’m thinking
Seem to me to be wise or profound
All the girls in the supermarket
Seem to be happy I’m around

After therapy and sometimes when I’ve been crying or thinking I might be in love
I get a little taste of freedom, just enough to make it clear that all I have here might just be enough

Everything that just this morning
Seemed to be a minor tragedy
Seems a part of some great story
Or a theme in some great symphony

The music I hear while I drive
Touches some forgotten part of me
My ipod can do no wrong
Tingling all down my vertebrae


Too bad the feelings crest
For just a while a day at best
And then my sorry life meanders slowly on
But slowly there’s a deepening
A shifting and a sweetening
A creeping in to where I might belong

Kettle’s on the kitchen is calm
I settle into my dreamiest thoughts
Not afraid of things that only
Yesterday were anxious and fraught

Every chord on my guitar now
Stirring up a richness in me
I could strum these chords for hours
Resonating all I can be

Track Name: Big Fat Nothing
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
I 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
And that 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

Track Name: Bottled in a Scenic
Waking at dawn, packing the gear
September tour, a nip in the air
Stop at the toll, digging for change
Snowy Cape-fold mountain range

Got to be quick, so far to go
A 12-hour drive to our first show
Do you remember the Laingsburg flood?
This whole town was buried in mud

Bottled in a Scenic like a bullet on the big road
We got a chicken in a bag and bottle of flat Coke
When the feelings are bad and the car’s too small
We find a way to laugh at it all
(My mistake oh come let’s shake your point of view’s the one I’ll take)

Back in the car, feeling the vibe
Last night’s crowd was a long-lost tribe
Looping around the back of the ’Burg
So many trucks headed for Durbs

We’re gonna be late, what’s the name of this town?
Dammit the map was upside down
Finally there, minutes to spare
Feel the love in the festival air

(Sorry man didn’t mean to flip it’s not important please pass the chips)

We while away the hours on the road
Telling ourselves stories that we’ve never told
Each of us carrying our load
Of untold stories

We learned our lesson leaving KZN
We went straight instead of turning when
The N2 forked, so much stress
Next time use the GPS

The East Cape stretch was a hell of a drive
Dodging cows in the old Transkei
Eric told us about the day
He arrived from France and kissed the clay

(Sorry guys I apologise, hey, check the moon starting to rise)
Track Name: Meerkat and Cobra
Lightly aching I wake and I screw my head on
And I stretch out my feelings and push myself along
With my feet in the shallows of shadowy dreams
I go into the kitchen to plot and to scheme

Philosophy, all I ask for’s a raft for these days on the ocean alone
Apostrophes are all I have now for words like ‘I love you’ and ‘honey I’m home’
Absolution and blame, meerkat and cobra inside me
I hope that if I call it names, my bad self will no longer abide me

Lightly aching I wake and I take on the day
And I plug in, I switch on and I plug away
Feeling overly worked, feeling underly paid
I live for the moment when I hit the hay


Lightly aching I wake and I make up my mind
Not to let you negate all the things that I find
In the streets where I wander and work to be kind
Always watching my back should you sneak up behind

I hate you now, the way you keep popping into the movie that plays in my head
Please take a bow and exit the stage, the shows over, the actors have all gone to bed