The art of songwriting

Songwriting has been an interest of mine for some time now. Not that I actually want to write lyrics – it’s just the way words work together to create the perfect melody that entices me.

I’ve recently had the privilege to interview singer songwriter Simon van Gend (from Simon & The Bande Á Part), and I was once filled with wonder for one man’s ability to create beauty in the form of order such as a chaotic but structured song.


 Simon van Gend. Photo by: Jonx Pillemer

The singer/songwriter, who is also a full-time typesetter at a local publishing house, has undertaken to write a song a week, which is kind of a big deal, as all songwriters (and even “normal” writers) will know.

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

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

Out of  “Suffer well”, written during Week 6 of Simon’s “A song a week” schedule.

Having joined several writing work shops in the past three years, I’ve learned that lyrics have the power to change a person’s ideology and way of thinking more than best-written opinion piece out there.

Songwriter Les Javan is another great example of a South-African artist who has managed to shift preconceived perceptions amongst white Afrikaners. In my interview with him at the Solms-Delta Wine Estate, he shared with me that many times he listens to his songs sung by other singers, and he’ll think, wow, that’s actually a heavy song while he never experienced so deep while writing the song. We came to the conclusion that songwriting forms part of the healing process. On both sides of the song – the listener as well as the writer.


 Les Javan.

It seems like everyone has a song that touched them in a deep way. From Katy Perry’s “Roar” to Bill Wither’s “Grandma’s hands”, there is a song that has the contents of your heart written all over it. Do share your special song in the comment below… If you feel like it 🙂


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