139/2024 – “A Fake, a Foundling Fraudster on the Take”

Lyrics : “Somewhere Inbetween” – Frank Turner, 2024

Welcome to another – maybe by now almost regular – “Post Frank Turner gig introspection” posts. While I was – a bit aimlessly – strolling through Hamburg today, I spent a lot of time in my own head, but not in a bad way. A few weeks ago I compared my experience in this music fandom to a “social lab” and in a way last night / today was something similar to me.

The gig last night was great, albeit a short one, just one hour long. But I expected that going in, as it was a two shows day for Frank. He played about half of the new album “Undefeated”, some rarer old ones and of course “the hits”. I had fun and it seemed so did Frank on stage.

Frank Turner on stage, changing the tuning of his guitar
Frank doing what he does…

I’m sure I have mentioned a few times before, that when I first started going to Frank gigs it took me a while to chat with the people around me. Once I started heading for the barrier and being in the queue early to be able to get to the barrier, of course I met some people over and over again. I also met other fans online and then at shows and all that. After over 10 years it’s safe to say that I know quite a few people by now and am known to probably even more. By face and/or online moniker at least. After the first tour in 2016 where I went to several gigs and first encountered the same people at the barrier night after night I at some point wrote that I hadn’t found my “people” yet. (Which isn’t true anymore, but that’s a different story). But most of those people who along with me were/are queueing early and hanging around for a while after to catch Frank, seem(ed) to be quite different from me. Listening to a variety of  punk or rock music. Knowing so much more about it. Going to many more gigs of all kinds of bands. In short being the epitome of “dedicated punkrock music person”.

I am not that person. Frank is as punk as I can tolerate it and I know some might laugh now, because they don’t consider his music punk at all or not anymore. And I guess my line is not drawn as strict as that sounds. I like some punk bands as well. I’ll see Pet Needs in Cologne later this month! But I don’t listen to a vast array of new or old bands. These days I only occasionally go and see live music. Frank is the only one that makes me go as often and travel as far to gigs and that has a lot to with how much his music means to me. If I’m honest it all basically comes down to that. I have fun singing and dancing at the occasional gig of other bands / artists. But the experience of joining in with a crowd to sing those particular words which help(ed) me and speak to me on so many levels and to sing them back to the person who wrote those words, is the element of Frank gigs that feed my heart and soul.

That was an unexpected tangent.

Anyway, sometimes – like last night – when I’m in the queue or at the barrier listening to the people around me, chatting to the people around me (yes, I do that more easily by now) or hanging around outside the venue after the show, a nagging voice in my head likes to tell me that I don’t really belong there with these other “dedicated music people”. That I’m a fraud. Not worthy of a spot at the barrier or less worthy of a moment of Frank’s limited time after the show, because I don’t go to other gigs all the time and I don’t have encyclopaedic knowledge of other punk / rock music or bands. Years ago that voice would have managed to fuel my post-gig-blues and in the worst case sometimes even ruin my night. Three cheers for my round of therapy (I think), which by now enables me to recognize that voice for the lying, nasty, self-destructive goblin that she is. That enables me to just not believe her and mostly ignore her.

These days I also ponder where that goblin gets her nasty opinions from. Which sort of was why I spent so much time in my head today, trying to figure that out. I’m not sure I made all that much progress, at least not more than I did in therapy, but that’s fine as well. All in all the pondering today at least did refresh and consolidate all the things I learned in therapy.

I did call this post my “Post Frank Turner gig introspection” for a reason. At the “No Man’s Land” tour (on the Live from Newcastle album) Frank mentions that his songs are/were a form of “public therapy”. So are these posts for me in a way, I think. Be grateful that I won’t try to put those thoughts to music…

Tomorrow on the train ride home I’ll try to write some more about my short stay here in Hamburg. For now I’ll leave you with two photos taken a few minutes ago on the lovely roof terrace of the place I’m staying at.

A plane silhouetted against a sunset sky
Tonight’s sunset
Photo of a high rise building with the sunset reflecting in some windows
On the other side….

133/2024 – “There Are Sunlight Uplands Around the River Bend”

Lyrics: “Glorious You” – Frank Turner, 2015

Over the course of this weekend I’ve slowly slipped into a weird mood. Doubting myself, feeling discontent and grumpy and unmoored. Journalling only helped a little bit, because I often grapple to put my emotions and thoughts into words and whatever I put down on paper doesn’t really mirror the mess inside my head. It all went a bit further south when I realized that today it’s been 35 years since my dad had passed away. I don’t know why 35 seemed to have more significance than 30 or 33. I don’t even recall if I thought about it much last year. I didn’t even spend today reminiscing much. It might have been a good journal topic, if I ever dare to go there. Which I obviously didn’t. I just kept moping around, wondering if I should make the most of the sunny day and get outside, but then didn’t, because I just wasn’t in the mood. I’m grateful at least, that I’ve reached the point where I’m not beating myself up too much for not doing stuff I think other people would be doing – like go outside, enjoy the sun – if I just don’t feel like it. I’m also grateful for the knowledge that “this too shall pass” and that I know that I’m doing alright all in all. Feeling a grumpy and unmoored this weekend is just a blip on the radar.

Yesterday we from the local Green party had our first European election campaigning event – a booth, handing out flyers etc. – in the city centre. There weren’t too many people around, which made time pass rather slowly, but it was still ok. Even after election campaigners being harassed and attacked elsewhere in Germany, I wasn’t really worried and we didn’t really hear any abuse. Isn’t it sad though that the bar is set this low by now? One couple mostly friendly, but still determined called us warmongers, because we support that Germany helps the Ukraine with military aid.

Towards the end we had a bit of a difficult time with two women who clearly just wanted to cause trouble or at least air their grievances with Green policies and basically everything else the current German government had been doing. They were nutcases! Plain and simple. They started with claiming that Russia invaded Ukraine because Ukraine is a fascist state which discriminated Russian people. When I tried to stop the conversation right there – because I knew it would be a waste of our time – they switched to many other conspiracy theories and fake news and it was exhausting. I felt like we weren’t properly prepared to counter all their stupid arguments, which always had an inkling of some truth, but were all twisted and that’s probably the whole idea behind their enquiries about “Green Party Ideology”. They weren’t interested in a debate, they wanted to just share their fake news bullshit with us

Wind turbines are bad, because the material discharges poisonous particles into the environment. Germany heavily relies on France for electrical power since France still runs nuclear plants and Germany focuses on unreliable renewable energy. Ban on plastic straws is stupid (I even agreed there, the real plastic problem isn’t the straws). All the plastic waste caused by the COVID tests and mask were much worse. COVID testing was unnecessary and many more people died from the vaccine than from COVID. That was moment when we finally managed to send them packing. Seriously…. some people!

Unfortunately this encounter just highlighted something I recently talked to about with a colleague. One of the most impactful consequences of the pandemic, lockdown and everything is that to some degree I lost faith / trust / something in my fellow humans. I still can’t get it into my head how some people have drifted off into conspiracy land so far and so deep. Ordinary people, well-educated people, people who did study medicine FFS or any other field of science. I still sometimes can’t get it into my head how some people seemed to have lost all empathy for their fellow humans. Maybe they never had much empathy to begin with and always had been self-involved bastards, but at least than they hid it better before. I still sometimes can’t get into my head how people seem to be more and more divided and don’t even try to understand the other side. I sometimes catch myself acting in a similar way though and digging my heels in prematurely and I don’t like that about myself.

A few days ago I mentioned that I occasionally try to buy/read newspapers from the opposite to me (left/liberal) spectrum, thus a more conservative paper. I’ve just now finished reading the last articles from the weekend edition I bought last weekend and I definitely caught myself getting my hackles raised by some topics and commentary and almost vowed to myself to never buy that paper again so that I don’t have to submit myself to feeling this aversion again. Which clealry shows I’m a bit a hypocrite, because if I can’t even read about an opposing point of view, how can I expect anyone else to live or peacefully debate and engage with the opposing side?

No solution here obviously, just some ramblings.

Set of the first 10 books of "The Chronicles of St. Mary's"
No idea why the first one is packed upside-down

Let’s end with some good news: The “The Chronicles of St. Mary” collection set arrived last night and I’m already almost through the 2nd book. I still haven’t made space on my shelf for it all. I’m not sure when I’ll get around to it, because most of this weekend (Friday/Saturday, travelling back on Sunday) I’ll be in Hamburg. Seeing Frank play to a small-ish crowd in the Molotow backyard on Friday evening. I can’t wait.

Lyrical History of Mankind – Undefeated Edition

I’m still working on my album review – in short: 10 days in I still enjoy it a lot – but gathering my thoughts on songs still leads me on tangents and then I get distracted and all that. I set myself to at least finish my less introspective and more academical engagement with this new album this weekend. I shared the first half earlier this week, but here now is the complete (current) result of my “research”. All in good nerdy fun, obviously.

There are at least two more bits that Frank himself mentioned in some of the many album release interviews I’ve listened to. There is some Gabriel García Márquez somewhere and the lines “Grateful that you got this far and proud that you behaved no worse” in “Undefeated” are inspired by something Clive James wrote. Frank didn’t elaborate if in a poem or essay and Clive James has created such a vast body of work that for now I dare not delve into that for more research. [I did search the internet for a bit, but gave up quickly.] I admit I haven’t read any García Márquezyet either, so I’m drawing a blank there for the time being as well.

I still haven’t made up my mind if I’ll include commonly used metaphors which embody a historical reference in my main reference guide. We’ll see. The following is in track list order, because doing it chronologically seems too much of a hassle right now.

Do One
Starting right off with something I’m not sure if it really is a reference or if it just sounds like one to me, because I’ve read the source material quoted in different contexts many times before. I’m talking, of course about the famous Robert Frost poem “The Road Not Taken” (1915), which has the lines

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

“So which path to choose, the one less travelled or the one more used”

Photo from a narrow path on a hillside in Wales
One of the many – less travelled – paths I wandered in my life so far

Never Mind the Back Problems
Johnny Rotten (Sex Pistols frontman) did indeed appear in a butter commercial in 2008. I don’t know what to make of “The Damned” reference yet, obviously it’s a band, which according to a quick glance at Wikipedia disbanded and reunited and changed members quite a bit.

“Johnny Rotten been selling butter on telly while England slept
I’ve seen the Damned with two original members in the band”

Even though I right away felt like I knew which song from the 90s band “The Verve” (lead singer Richard Ashcroft) Frank was alluding here, I had to look it up and then had a “Duh! Of course!” moment. From their 1997 hit “A Bitter Sweet Symphony”

“But I’m a million different people from one day to the next”

“I know that you cannot stand The Verve
But Richard Ashcroft had a point
Now I’m old enough to see
There’s a million different people
You will be before you’re me”

Girl From The Record Shop
I’m not sure if I want to include all the bands / album referenced here as historical reference. I did it with Dylan and Springsteen before, but I might scrap all that in the next revised edition. Mentioned here are bands Supremes, Four Tops, and albums Everything Sucks (Descendants) , Amnesiac (Radiohead), Sheer Heart Attack (Queen). There is “Back to Black” from Amy Winehouse, but that doesn’t really fit the timeline teenage Frank? Creative Licence, maybe?

I actually shy away from calling a reference to the 1990s a historical reference, because I’ve lived through those years and calling it history makes me feel old as fuck, but maybe I’ll have to get used to that. The 1990s underground feminist alt-rock/punk movement the Riot Grrl movement needs to be included though.

“sat behind the counter in her Riot Grrl top”

Pandemic PTSD
We’ve all seen the “Keep Calm And Carry On” slogan from WWII era on posters and mugs and magnets and every (tourist-y) souvenir, I assume.

“And I won’t keep calm, I won’t carry on”

Here is one of the lovely – kind of meta – moments, when Frank quotes himself. From “The Way I Tend To Be” (2013)

It turns out hell will not be found
Within the fires below,
But in making do and muddling through
When you’ve nowhere else to go.

“And say, “I’m tired of just making do
I’m tired of just muddling through
Aren’t you tired of making do?
I’m tired of muddling through” “

No Thank You For The Music
In 333 BC Alexander the Great had marched into the city of Gordium, where he encountered a wagon, its yoke tied with an knot, so entangled that it seemed impossible to unravel. According to an oracle the man who did manage to, would be ruler of all Asia. Alexander didn’t bother too long trying to untie it, but rather sliced it with his sword. [Source: History.com]

“Here’s hoping that the kids have fangs
To chew their way through this little Gordian knot”

International Hide And Seek Champions
In 1971 in the USA a man – later known as D.B. Cooper – managed to hijack a plane on the way from Portland to Seattle. He demanded a parachute and 200.000 $ in cash. His demands were met in Seattle, where he let the passengers go. He redirected the plane with the remaining staff to Mexico and sometime after the plane left Seattle, parachuted out the back and was never seen again. [More from the FBI].

I have no idea when/who started the “DB Cooper Hide & Seek Champion since 1971” meme, but there are tons of shirts, mugs, whatever available all over the internet. In an interview I listened to, Frank mentioned that he saw a documentary on DB Cooper and someone was wearing that shirt.

“DB Cooper now in second place.
International hide and seek champions.”

Show People
I bet we all have heard of Icarus, who in Greek mythology flew to close to the sun with his wings held together by beeswax.

Eviel Knievel was an American stunt performer and daredevil most known for motorcycle jumps.

“Can you fly like Icarus, land like Evel Knievel?”

The following might also more of a metaphor than a reference, though I personally always remember the parable from the bible when I hear it, so for me it is clearly historical/literal and this is my “research” so I’ll include it.

Luke 18:18 – 30 tells about Jesus’s encounter a rich young man, who enquires which actions bring eternal life. Jesus answers, that among other thing the rich young man needs to sell his possessions and give to the poor, because

“It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

“To be the truest version of yourself, pass through the eye of the needle”

And my post ends with John Otway, who – quoting from his own website“is an English singer-songwriter who has built a sizeable cult audience through extensive touring, a surreal sense of humour and a self-deprecating underdog persona.”

He started making music and touring in the 1970s and 5.000 gigs later he is still doing it for and with the aforementioned sizeable cult audience, so definitively hats off to him:

“You’re more likely to be John Otway than the Beatles,
But Otway’s still on tour. Hats off to the show people.”