Home Biography Discography Concerts Bands Teacher Composer Media Contact

The Secret To Success


Better Days
I've Never Seen Hawaii
Do What You Have To Do
Falling Out Of Love With You
It's You
Lost My Home
The Secret To Success
If It Don't Look Good
Too Drunk To Quit Drinking
I Should Know Better
You Don't Live Here Anymore
Why Must I

REVIEW (DUTCH)

BETTER DAYS

An optimistic song of hope and faith, featuring a terrific intro by the brilliant Laura Chavez and cool solos by Roel and Boris.
YOUTUBE

words & music: Harm van Sleen

HARM VAN SLEEN: electric guitar and vocals; LAURA CHAVEZ: electric guitar (solo); BORIS VAN DER LEK: tenor sax (solo); DAVID LUKACS: tenor saxophones; RAYMOND NIJENHUIS electric guitar; ROEL SPANJERS: piano and organ (solo); AAD VAN PIJLEN: bass and backing vocal; ANDREAS ROBBIE CARREE: drums

She's got a mind of her own, a striking personality
She can make it on her own, a spirit independent and free
Dark clouds start to roll away
Trouble ain't here to stay
Get ready for better days

There were enemies to defeat, there were hurdles to overcome
Now you know you can beat any challenge that's yet to come
Dark clouds start to roll away
Trouble ain't here to stay
Get ready for better days

If you see her walking by and you know what is good for you
No empty words or promises, no, you'd better come through
Dark clouds start to roll away
Trouble ain't here to stay
There'll be no more skies of grey
The world becomes bright and gay
Misery, come back another day
Can't you hear what I'm tryin' to say
Get ready for better days

I'VE NEVER SEEN HAWAII

If reality doesn't work out, you can always live in the world of dreams.

words & music: Harm van Sleen

HARM VAN SLEEN: steel guitar (solo) and vocal; ROEL SPANJERS: piano (solo); DAVID LUKACS: clarinet; PHILIP KROONENBERG: ukulele; CHRIS KOENEN: guitar; AAD VAN PIJLEN: bass; ANDREAS ROBBIE CARREE: drums

I've never seen Hawaii
It's calling out to me
Bananas and poi
For me to enjoy
With my ukulele on my knee

Do the hula dance forever
Play my frypan steel all day
While the humuhumunukunukuapua’a
Swims in the Hilo bay

The new world's growing old so quickly
An old world might be new to me
Far from the roar of judgemental bores
To that paradise across the sea

But if I had to leave my country
And my loved ones, I would cry
So I close my eyes
And without sad goodbyes
I reach the shores of old Hawaii

DO WHAT YOU HAVE TO DO

Guitar Ray is on fire; a Cajun laissez-faire ditty about tolerance.

words & music: Harm van Sleen

HARM VAN SLEEN: violin and vocals; RAYMOND “GUITAR RAY” NIJENHUIS: electric guitars (solo); ROEL SPANJERS: piano and accordion; AAD VAN PIJLEN: bass; ANDREAS ROBBIE CARREE: drums

If you break the law, if you eat it raw, I don't mind
If you talk real loud, if you act real proud, I don't mind
I've got my own game to figure out
My own questions, my own answers, my own doubts

Do what you have to do, it's all up to you
I can't do it for you, nobody there but you
Do what you have to do, if it feels right to you
If it's what you're called to do, to your own self be true

If I can't understand your rules or your plans, that's okay
I want you to be free, so please let me be in my own way
I've got my own game to figure out
My own questions, my own answers, my own doubts

Do what you have to do, it's all up to you
I can't do it for you, nobody there but you
Do what you have to do, if it feels right to you
If it's what you're called to do, to your own self be true

I've got my own life to figure out
My own questions, my own answers, my own doubts

Do what you have to do, it's all up to you
I can't do it for you, nobody there but you
Do what you have to do, if it feels right to you
If it's what you're called to do, to your own self be true

Do what you have to do, it's all up to you
I can't do it for you, nobody there but you
Do what you have to do
Do what you have to do

FALLING OUT OF LOVE WITH YOU

Heavily influenced by Randy Newman and Geraint Watkins. Roel is fantastic as usual, and my steel guitar solo is supposed to conjure up and old time feeling so I used an old non-pedal Fender Stringmaster from the mid 1950s and an old tube amp from the 1930s.

words & music: Harm van Sleen

HARM VAN SLEEN: steel guitar (solo) and vocal; ROEL SPANJERS: piano (solo); DAVID LUKACS: clarinet (solo); MATTHIJS SEPERS: trumpet and trombone; ARNOUD DE GRAAFF: soprano sax; CHRIS KOENEN: acoustic guitar (solo); AAD VAN PIJLEN: bass; ANDREAS ROBBIE CARREE: drums

We said “I do”
And now we're through
All that's left for me to do
Is to be falling out of love with you

I was sad and blue
And angry too
It takes some time and I know it's true
This falling out of love with you

People think I'll spoil the party
They see the look of anguish in my face
It seems they're always in a hurry
I'm left humiliated and disgraced

We said “forever”
But failed in our endeavour
Now teach me how to do this, 'coz I don't have a clue
Falling out of love with you

People offer unsollicited advice
They say time will heal the wounds
I try to listen, just to be nice
But doubt always kicks in too soon

“Till death do us part”
Can't prevent a change of heart
One little thing I need to do:
It's falling out of love with you
Falling out of love with you
Falling out of love with you

IT'S YOU

It was such an honor to have Candye Kane join me on this tune, the first time I've ever written a duet. I hadn't realized how strange it is to have someone else singing your own words at you, it was intended to be a love song but then I started thinking, what if she feels very differently about me? So I wrote "It's you that makes me feel this way" and now you can sing it with real feeling to anybody - people you love, or hate, or despise, or worship - any emotion will do! That's Laura again on guitar. This was the last song we recorded and all the horn players had already left so I recorded a string section instead, I think it's about 10 violin tracks that I overdubbed at home, and it sounded much better than I thought it would, so it made the final mix.
YOUTUBE

words & music: Harm van Sleen

HARM VAN SLEEN: violins and vocal; CANDYE KANE: lead vocal; LAURA CHAVEZ: electric guitar (solo); ROEL SPANJERS: piano; AAD VAN PIJLEN: bass; ERIK SPANJERS: drums

It's not the moon or the stars
It ain't champagne or caviar
None of the kind, not a doubt in my mind
It's YOU who makes me feel this way

It's not your car, so big and grand
Or your influential friends
And although your gold is a thing to behold
It's YOU who makes me feel this way

Something's stirring in my heart
Vital organs fall apart
Lungs go crazy, bowels go wild
I get excited like a child

Could be your eyes, could be your toes
What's happening God only knows
Don't know what to do and it's all because of you
It's YOU who makes me feel this way

Something's stirring in my heart
Vital organs fall apart
Lungs go crazy, bowels go wild
I get excited like a child

Could be your eyes, could be your toes
What's happening God only knows
Don't know what to do and it's all because of you
It's YOU who makes me feel this way 2x
Don't ask me why, I'm telling no lie
It's YOU who makes me feel this way 5x

LOST MY HOME

Partially inspired by watching refugees trek through Europe in search of any kind of life, partially by my own divorce. I guess I was feeling very sorry for myself. In the end my road took me to some wonderful places. I'm afraid that for many refugees it's more like moving from one hell to another.

words & music: Harm van Sleen

HARM VAN SLEEN: acoustic guitar, violin (solo), dobro (solo) and vocal; AAD VAN PIJLEN: bass; ERIK SPANJERS: shaker

I lost my home, I can't go back no more
I lost my home, can't go back no more
I lost my home, I can't go back no more
Dusty storms drove me away from my door

I've walked 2,000 miles in threadbare shoes
I've walked 2,000 miles in threadbare shoes
I've walked 2,000 miles in threadbare shoes
I can't go back, got nothing left to lose

Dogs are barking, a guard is at the gate
Dogs are barking, a guard is at the gate
Dogs are barking, a guard is at the gate
A shadow seems to tell me, it's too late

I lost my home, I can't go back no more
I lost my home, can't go back no more
I lost my home, I can't go back no more
Dusty storms drove me away from my door
Dusty storms drove me away from my door

THE SECRET TO SUCCESS

Chasing success might be the best way to not achieve it. Reading about the Grateful Dead was inspiring, a band that never tried to become successful, didn't care about trends or marketing plans, were reluctant stars, and yet grew to be one of the biggest phenomenons on the concert scene. Bob Dylan is also a living example of how doing your own thing gets you where you need to be. But musically this song owes more to the Allman Brothers.

words & music: Harm van Sleen

HARM VAN SLEEN: pedal steel (solo) and vocals; CHRIS KOENEN: electric guitar (solo) and backing vocal; ROEL SPANJERS: piano and organ (solo); MATTHIJS SEPERS: trumpet and trombone; ARNOUD DE GRAAFF: alto, tenor and baritone saxophones; AAD VAN PIJLEN: bass and backing vocals; ANDREAS ROBBIE CARREE: drums; ERIK SPANJERS: bongos

As the dogs began to bark
I yelled out in the dark
And made my entrance
“Come al ye friends and strangers too
I've come to do what I have to do
With a vengeance
In blind faith and self-possessed
I will dive into the mess
They call the secret to success”

I would walk a road of gold
Witness magic dreams unfold
To the sound of thunder
But knee deep in the mud
Every deal was paid in blood
No time to wonder
If it's worth all you invest
This everlasting quest
To find the secret to success

When the blackest night will fall
A sweet memory might be all
To sustain me
Tearing pages from this book
In the end was all it took
To entertain me
Pity the man who second-guessed
To find his life was second best
Chasing secrets to success

IF IT DON'T LOOK GOOD

Nothing is perfect, so what? David's clarinet puts a huge smile on my face.

words & music: Harm van Sleen

HARM VAN SLEEN: vocals; CHRIS KOENEN: electric guitar (solo) and backing vocal; ROEL SPANJERS: clavinet and organ (solo); DAVID LUKACS: clarinet; MATTHIJS SEPERS: trumpet and trombone; ARNOUD DE GRAAFF: tenor and baritone saxophones; AAD VAN PIJLEN: bass and backing vocal; ANDREAS ROBBIE CARREE: drums

Some drink whiskey, some drink wine
Some keep drinking all the time
If it don't look good
If it don't look good
If it don't look good, tell me why you think it should

This door could use a coat of paint
But I won't pretend to be what I ain't
If it don't look good, no-one ever said it would

It's up to you, it's up to me
To change the world or let it be
If it don't look good, no-one ever said it would

Honey, let me speak my mind
Those things I said, well, I was lyin'
If it don't look good, no-one ever said it would

Let me do it like a man
If I can't do it, no-one can
If it don't look good, there's no reason why it should

Don't judge right or wrong
I could sing this all night long
If it don't look good, if it don't look good
If it isn't right, if it's a terrible sight
If it hurts like hell and never rings a bell
If it don't look good tell me why you think it should

TOO DRUNK TO QUIT DRINKING

The oldest song on the album.

words & music: Harm van Sleen

HARM VAN SLEEN: pedal steel, lead electric guitar and vocals; BORIS VAN DER LEK: tenor saxophone (solo); ROEL SPANJERS: piano and organ; CHRIS KOENEN: electric guitar and backing vocal; AAD VAN PIJLEN: bass and backing vocals; ANDREAS ROBBIE CARREE: drums

Those precious moments, where did they go?
Aeons of struggle, so little to show
That promising future has moved to the past
A vision of glory that was not built to last

Beloved friends in and out of our lives
Fell off the radar or didn't survive
Let's raise our glasses to dreams unfulfilled
Uncork these bottles and fire up the stills

Until we're too drunk to quit drinking
Too high to come down
Too low to quit sinking
Too lost to be found

Choices not made, decisions postponed
All that I'm asking is to leave me alone
Right now only one thing I need to do
Is to join the party and get a load of this brew

Until I'm too drunk to quit drinking
Too high to come down
Too low to quit sinking
Too lost to be found

I SHOULD KNOW BETTER

Heavily influenced by J.J. Cale.
YOUTUBE

words & music: Harm van Sleen

HARM VAN SLEEN: pedal steel (solo) and vocals; CHRIS KOENEN: electric guitar (solo); ROEL SPANJERS: Wurlitzer electric piano (solo); MATTHIJS SEPERS: trumpets; ARNOUD DE GRAAFF: tenor and baritone saxophones; AAD VAN PIJLEN: bass; ANDREAS ROBBIE CARREE: drums

I should know better than to whisper your name
I should know better so I am to blame
I should know better but I don't seem to learn
Better prepare to get burned

I should know better than to wait for your call
I should know better – I know nothing at all
I should know better since the last time
I must be stupid and blind

I should know better than to hope for the best
I should know better 'coz I've failed every test
I should know better and I shouldn't complain
When things go wrong once again

I should know better but I don't
After this time, somehow I still won't
I won't admit it's not to be

YOU DON'T LIVE HERE ANYMORE

Music inspired by The Band, lyrics inspired by Nick Lowe. I love the groove of this tune. The lyrics are a strange mix of tongue in cheek humor and some real pain and anger. Either way, when I sing it, it makes me feel good. Laughing at your own anger is a good thing, I guess, at least for me.
YOUTUBE

words & music: Harm van Sleen

HARM VAN SLEEN: pedal steel and vocal; CHRIS KOENEN: electric guitar (solo); ROEL SPANJERS: organ (solo); AAD VAN PIJLEN: bass; ANDREAS ROBBIE CARREE: drums

Cigarettes are burning holes
Through the coffee-stained carpet on the floor
Mouse droppings all around
Strange scratching sounds I never used to hear before
The few friends that remain declare I'm insane
That's easy to ignore
It's not how it should be, you keep telling me
But you don't live here anymore

The room smells pretty bad, it used to drive me mad
Now I don't notice it at all
How it pleases me to be perfectly free
To dump my empty bottles in the hall
You want me to confess this house is just a mess
It's not the way it was before
That's not for you to say, don't criticize my ways
You don't live here anymore

So much that I don't crave like a haircut or a shave
Or your remarks about the clothes I wear
Don't tell me what to eat or where to put my feet
Whatever makes you think I care?
You ran off so suddenly and made a new man out of me
I'm not the man that I was before
I'm so happy on my own, glad to be alone
You don't live here anymore

I'll have another glass of wine, tell myself I'm doing fine
You don't live here anymore

Oh, and there's just one more thing I want to tell ya

WHY MUST I

Oh, life's mysteries...

words & music: Harm van Sleen

HARM VAN SLEEN: pedal steel and vocal; BORIS VAN DER LEK: tenor saxophone (solo); CHRIS KOENEN: electric guitar and backing vocal; ROEL SPANJERS: piano and organ; AAD VAN PIJLEN: bass and backing vocal; ANDREAS ROBBIE CARREE: drums

The door fell shut, trapped inside this room
Angry voices and penetrating eyes
Where only fools would go, to meet their doom
And those mistaking truth for lies

He remembers how he had been warned
Everbody told him not to go
Good advice was met with ridicule and scorn
“If it's not allowed, then I really need to know”

Why must I wonder?
Why do I care?
Why should I find out for myself?

Not too long ago, the sun was shining
There were friends to see and wondrous things to do
When a cloud appeared it had a silver lining
But it couldn't take away these dreadful blues
There he walks beyond the rainbow
A one way road that leads to misery
A silent silhouette, a lonesome shadow
A dark reminder of the way things used to be

Why must I wonder?
Why do I care?
Why should I find out for myself?

Musicians

portret Aad van Pijlen: bass, backing vocals and producer. We're bandmates in Men In Blues and the Freelance Band. Worked with Jules Deelder, Herman Brood, Kamagurka, Livin' Blues, Himalaya, New Adventures, Frederique Spigt, and many other bands.
portret Andreas "Robbie" Carree: drums. Dutch Blues Award for best drummer 2011. Worked with Mr. Boogie Woogie, King Mo, Nederlof. Next door neighbor and fantastic drummer.
portret Arnoud de Graaff: soprano, alto, tenor and baritone sax. Worked with Caro Emerald, Mr. Boogie Woogie and Jeroen Sweers. OFFICIAL WEBSITE
portret Boris van der Lek: tenor sax. Worked with Hans Dulfer, Jaap Dekker, The Houdinis, Herman Brood, Golden Earring, Thijs van Leer, and many others. OFFICIAL WEBSITE
portret Candye Kane: guest vocalist It's You. Great singer and personality. Check out her own albums! WIKI
portret Chris Koenen: guitar, vocal. Bandmate Men In Blues, also worked with Jules Deelder and Tilt Team.
portret David Lukacs: clarinet and tenor sax. Currently with the Dutch Swing College Band. OFFICIAL WEBSITE
portret Erik Spanjers: engineer and percussion. Great ears and great taste. OFFICIAL WEBSITE
portret Laura Chavez: guitar. Currently with Nikki Hill. According to Vintage Guitar magazine: "She's not a rising star -- she's already arrived." All Music biography
portret Matthijs Sepers: trumpet, trombone and valve trombone. Tasteful in many different musical stylings, including blues, old time jazz and James Brown-style funk.
portret Philip Kroonenberg: ukulele. Singer in the Freelance Band and with the Magic Magicians. OFFICIAL WEBSITE
portret Raymond "Guitar Ray" Nijenhuis: guitar. Great guitar player, especially in the Western Swing tradition and rootsy American styles, but also with the Status Quo tribute band Status Quotes. More about Ray...
portret Roel Spanjers: piano, orgel, Wurlitzer, clavinet, and accordeon. Fronts his own bands Birdcatcher and Sunset Travelers but also works with Normaal, Frederique Spigt, Ricky Koole, and many others.