17.09.2021 | “Maybe, just maybe, I’ll admit that I could use a little help…”

Lyrics: “Haven’t Been Doing So Well” ~ Frank Turner, 2021

Two weeks or so ago, I came across a YouTube video of Frank Turner playing the song “Muhammad Ali” live at a gig. I was wondering if it was just another working title for the song “Punches”, you know boxing and all. Spoiler Alert: it wasn’t. Instead it was this song that absolutely blew my mind, because I could relate to the lyrics so much. Later in this post I will talk about how my reaction to those kind of songs has changed a bit over the years, but let’s delve into this one first. Or maybe just state how much I needed THAT song to be released yesterday, when emotionally I had hit the lowest point I experienced in a long time. I was so grateful I could blast this song on my car stereo and sing and scream along, because that does feel cathartic. And it does help to know that there is at least one other person in the world – who wrote these lyrics – who knows so well how this low point feels and thus also shows me that I’m not alone in this.

This title alone. Come on! I don’t know about you, but my usual reply to “how are you?” is “fine”. If I’m really not doing too well, I say “Oh, I’m ok.” Even if I’m not really. I find it incredible hard to say to friends or coworkers or any other person I know: “I am not doing so well right now”. Why is that? I mean, my brain knows why: Fear of rejection, fear of not being understood, fear of being a nuisance or a killjoy.

Circumstances right now might have helped a little to be more open and say “It’s hard. I’m struggling with this [emergency].” And *this* is just the tip of the anxious iceberg, but that’s a topic for another post maybe.

It’s a day with a Y in it, so obviously I’m over it.
I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired.

And I’ve tried not to worry, and I’ve tried being sorry for being
Born in the wrong place at the wrong time.

So many times have I thought and felt and possibly blogged about how I’m sick and tired of feeling this way. Annoyed by my own apathy. And yet still unable to change much of it. Though that’s not true, there have been positive changes over the years. But it’s hard to remember those sometimes.

Being sick and tired of being sick and tired feels like a nod to I’m young and bored of being young and bored (“Once We Were Anarchists”). Nice!

Because I’ve been
Messed up, stressed out, talking to myself again,
Locked up, left out, terrified of everything,
Wound up, found out, waiting round for something to give.

Messed up, stressed out…. often enough by my own thoughts and the critical voice in my head. Spending too much time in my head, talking to myself, anyway.

Lockdowns and the whole pandemic and how we changed as society might have also impacted me more than I thought possible. Or maybe there were other things impacting my sense of self. In other aspects of my life I still feel overwhelmed by responsibilities more often than I should. Found out, waiting for something to give for sure.

Don’t you ever wake up and suspect
That you were simply never cut out to be
The kind of person they expect,
The person you intended to be.

This! 100% ! Right now and for most of my life, when I look back on it. Always expecting the least of myself. And always, always waiting for other people to find me out as the imposter that I clearly must be.

And I keep it all in with my idiot grin,
And I’m doing my best, but there’s very little left,

I would rather say “nondescript smile” instead of idiot grin :-), but the effect is the same. I put up a facade of being fine and ok and just dandy. And yes, that can be exhausting sometimes. Maybe that’s one of the many reasons why I’m so knackered these days. Though I assume the general worrying at the moment exhausts me even more.

So cut me some slack if I crawl back into my shell:
I haven’t been doing so well.

I always found it hard to be outgoing. I might have gotten a bit better with it over the years – also thanks to some lovely experience in the Frank Turner community – but it’s still hard for me in general, especially if I’m not feeling well. So I tend to not initiate contact with friends and to neither suggest plans. Just let me be. Here. Wallowing in my own misery.

I got a brand new name for an old, old friend:
The doctor said it’s “anxiety”.

And it makes a lot of sense because I’ve been so tense
Some days I find it difficult to see

I won’t even try to self-diagnose myself only based on the various self-help books I’ve read over the years. But I feel anxious a lot and I have self-esteem issues and all that. I know that much by now. For the longest time, till my early 20s I thought, that was just the way it was. That feeling this miserable was how I was supposed to feel. Only when I started reading some of the many available self-help books on issues like self-esteem etc, I realized: Hey, you don’t HAVE to feel this way. There is reason you do, but you could work through that and feel better. Or at least not as bad. 20 years on I’m still working on that. So yes it’s an old old friend, but at least I have some more understanding of where those issues might stem from.

Because I’ve been
Hemmed in, penned down, struggling to find myself,
Caved in, cut down, scared of everybody else,
Dragged in, dragged down, searching for a reason to live.

Couldn’t you tell?

Struggling to find myself, scared of everybody else, searching for a reason to live… yep. Once again feelings I know so very well. Feeling lost more than found (see, what I’m doing here?) and like I don’t really fit in anywhere, because I’m so uniquely messed up. Though searching the reason to live might be a bit harsh, it never went this far for me. But the reason to be… more active. To just do things!

If self loathing was a sport, I’d be Muhammad Ali,
Because I can sting like a butterfly and sink like a bee.
But they don’t hand out medals to monsters like me…

Oh well.
I haven’t been doing so well.
Maybe I could do with some help.

Again. 100% ! Sometimes and maybe even too often I excel at self-loathing. And I can’t stop myself, because… I don’t know. Maybe because feeling bad about myself is something I’m familiar with and feeling good about myself is not and the unfamiliarity might scare me? I have no idea! The “monster” bit? Yeah on my darker days, that’s a feeling I also know so very well.

Can I just for a moment leave my self-indulgent psychoanalysis of the song and praise the beauty of these lyrics? Because we all know that Ali’s line was float like a butterfly, sting like a bee and neither do butterflies sting nor do bees sink, but I guess that’s the point. Of not being able to do anything right. Or at least to feel like you’re not able to.

Every day I wake up and suspect
That I was simply never cut out to be
The kind of person they expect,
The person I intended to be.

Because I’m not Joe Strummer, not Muhammad Ali,
Not a teacher, not a builder, just uncomfortable me,
And maybe, just maybe, I’ll admit that I could use a little help.
I haven’t been doing so well.

Uncomfortable me: another nod – possibly – to another song (“Josephine”)? I like it. And yes, maybe, just maybe, I’ll admit that I could use a little help, because I haven’t been doing so well.

What an absolutely perfect song! And not just the lyrics, but also the sound of it all. Banger!

Moving away from this single song, I’d like to elaborate on the whole idea of songs I can so absolutely relate to. By now I try to not consider Frank’s songs as magic solution to all my problems. Because they are not. They can’t be! It also would be unfair to put that pressure on Frank as a songwriter. But I admit that there was a time – in the early years – where I thought “If I just long enough or often enough listen to this guy articulate my anxious emotions in beautiful lyrics, I will get better”. Of course that’s not how it works, but it was so easy and tempting to revel in the idea of being understood and seen and validated in my feelings. Finally! Because this has been quite the revelation to me, when I worked my way through Frank’s back catalogue after “discovering” him in the summer of 2013. And I am so so grateful to Frank for finding the often perfect words in his lyrics and for being so open and raw in his songwriting that he could and still can make me feel this way. Seen and understood and having my feelings validated.

But… of course music is not (always) enough. Which I started to realize when after a few years of having his music as a constant companion, being to many shows and experiencing the community of gigs and fandom, I was still anxious and full of self-loathing and still beating myself up a lot. To be fair all those gig experiences and being part of the Frank Turner community did at least help me to overcome my lack of self-esteem quite a bit. I’ve talked to so many lovely people at gigs, I have met so many like-minded (anxious and self-loathing *g*) people on- and offline and made some very dear friends. But many of the anxious emotions still remained.

Frank again hit it home for me in recent years, when he so openly talked about how he came to the same realization: music is fine, but it’s not enough – and that he needed professional help.

And that’s what I’ve been trying to do over the past few years as well: using some help, not professionally via a therapist. Yet. But by trying to establish better routines for my mental health. (not always as successful yet as I would like). By trying to be more mindful. By trying to read more about it. To work through it on my own as good as I can. It often feels like 3 steps forward, 5 steps back, but when I look back on all those years since that first OMG you don’t have to feel this way” moment in my mid-20s, I know I’m doing better. I’m a work in progress…

Recently I also reached out a bit more than before or was a bit more open to talk about how I really feel. And it does help to be more open about it. Or at least there hasn’t been any negative reaction to it. I’m trying to ignore the nagging “but if they don’t really care? / didn’t really mean it?” voice inside my head.

For example I did reach out to some friends I hadn’t talked to in a while and told them that I’ve been struggling. They got on the phone with me and we made plans for next week. Asked another friend if they’d like to spend some time with me this weekend. And of course they said yes. They are my friends. They do care. Today I also talked more openly with a colleague. On the phone which does help, because face to face is hard. And of course my colleague also was lovely and supportive.

I am surrounded by lovely and kind people. And it’s ok to tell them “I’m worried. I’m struggling”. To say “Maybe I could use a little help, I haven’t been doing so well”

Thank you Frank, for writing a song that gives me this little push to try harder to say these words more often.

23.06.2021 | Sing for your sorrow, your wisdom, your rage, sing out…

Lyrics: “Pass It Along” ~ Frank Turner, 2011

On my old blog I wrote tons of post about why and in how many wonderful ways that has changed my life. I think it’s time to bring a bit of the fangirling vibe to this space as well 🙂 And to be honest I just can’t bring myself to write another boring and repetitive post about how busy and borderline stressful my life is right now and how anxious many things make me at the moment and all that.

~ ~ ~

Let’s focus on something positive for a change and pick 8 Frank Turner songs that moved and still move me so profoundly and make me feel so many different things and make me feel them so deeply. Not necessarily my favourite songs, because that is a fluid list and depends on moods and situations and all. But there are certain songs that just make me feel. Either because I can relate so well to what the song is about and for a first time there were these words for those messy and complicated emotions and thoughts. Or even if I can’t relate to what the song ist about, Frank still manages to make me feel all the feels just through his words and music.

To be fair, even this list might change over time and half a year from now I might pick different songs? Who know? I mean earlier today when I was tweaking this post, Frank posted a reminder for “The Gathering” shows and of course this song should be on this list. But I never really sat down yet and gathered my thoughts about it and this post was basically done. So, counting down…

#08: Pass It Along

This song kind of snuck up on me, because I wasn’t such a big fan early on. But at some point some lines of this one made perfect sense to me as it sums up what Frank’s music means to me. And the way he sings it and I usually sing along to (if I sing along, in the car etc) is a good way to let of some steam as well 🙂

Sing till you sweat for the spirit of the age,
Sing life to lines that are dead on the page,
Sing for your sorrow your wisdom, your rage, sing out.
Sing for the records you played til they broke,
For the parts where you insisted that nobody spoke.
Sing for the words that you knew but they still make you choke.

#07: The Lifeboat

The scope of instrumentation here is what gets to me. Frank has written similar folk songs before, but this one still has a different feel to me. I love how the sound evolves from simple guitar picking to the full crescendo of violin and cello and trumpet. Add the sombre, but at the same time hopeful words and I’m just moved by it.

#06: The Graveyard of the Outcast Dead

Beautiful lyrics, performed with so much emotion. Once more I love the scope of instrumentation: acoustic guitar, mandolin, percussion, cello, piano and I’m in awe of how the sound grows and grows with each added instrument till it just blows you away in the finale. I’m an absolute sucker for those kind of songs. With a sad story too. Also… what a amazing unique way to teach us some history.

#05: Anymore

I do like this song a lot. Which might make me seem a bit fucked up, I know, because after all it’s the honest and outspoken and thus kind of heartbreaking story of how and why Frank broke up with his girlfriend. Frank himself once called it an “unkind” song and he doesn’t play it live very often. But what I find fascinating is, that the emotional ramifications of his actions and decision come across very well here. He is sorry about it and he feels sad. And he ends it anyway, because he has to. I guess, I probably can only like this song, because I’m not one of the two people involved. Autobiographical aspects and emotions aside, it is a beautiful song; melody and lyric wise and I’m a big fan of those.

And we’ve met this sorry end from a picture perfect start,
The romance and the running down to disconnected hearts
Of two people sad and free, who know they used to be
More than just a pair of sinking ships.

#04: I Believed You William Blake

I didn’t know anything about Blake or his wife before Frank released this song. Nor did I care to be honest. But I just love everything about this song. The music. The arrangement. The lyrics. The way Frank puts so much emotion into his singing, making the desperate pleading to William and the rage against the world quite palpable to me. The way Frank sings the following lines always get to me…

That you won’t leave me when you leave
This world that didn’t believe
Be a comfort to your wife….

And while all the elements – melody, arrangement, lyrics, performance – are beautiful in their own right, they complete each other in such a way that they create an incredibly beautiful…. perfect piece of music.

#03: Get Better

I think that was the first new song I heard him play in the early days (gig no. 7 of so far 54) and what a great song it was and still is. It resonated so much with me and I needed to hear these words at that time in my life. To be honest, and that might be a bit pathetic, 7 years in, I still do. Not as much as I might have back then, because things did change and I do have a different perspective on some things and I try to be less negative about myself and take better care of myself, mentally and physically. The pandemic was a setback for me though, when it comes to floundering, self-doubting, feeling anxious. But that’s no surprise, is it? Thinking about this song is a good reminder to turn up the volume and dance and sing along and feel…

Not Alone (because I’m reminded of all the people looking out for me).
More at peace with myself.
Happy (because in the end it’s just an incredibly awesome tune).

Randomly here is my favourite photo from that gig.

Frank Turner – Dudelange, Luxembourg, June 2014

#02: Reasons Not To Be An Idiot

You’re not as messed up as you think you are:
Your self-absorption makes you messier.
Just settle down and you will feel a whole lot better.
Deep down you’re just like everybody else.

This has been and still is such an important song for me. In fact, when I started listening to all the Frank music that was available, when I came across him this probably was one of the first songs I could relate to on such a personal level that it was scaring me a bit. Because how could some guy in England have the perfect words to describe how I felt and the perfect words to remind me what I should and have to do to make me not feel that way? Motivational Frank at his best. This song probably has also been the first one to make me realize that Frank himself might not be so different from me. From all of us. I never ever felt this way about any other singer / songwriter before.

#01: Tell Tale Sign

I can’t really relate to the situation or the relationship this song is about, but from early on this song absolutely blew me away. And still does. During the NML Tour in 2019 at the first of the London shows (Saturday), when after the opening chords the whole theatre so loudly joined in with “God Damn it Amy…” Wow! I admit I cried a little…

It’s one of my all time favourites, because it’s so emotional. And raw. And personal. This song was definitely one of the reasons I fell so head over heels for Frank as a singer / songwriter / artist, because all these emotions come across so well. Another reason why this song is so special to me is, that for probably the first time in my life, I heard lyrics which resonated with me soooo profoundly, that it just absolutely blew my mind.

When I thought that suffering was something profound,
That weighed down on wise heads,
And not just something to be avoided,
Something normal people dread.

Because as a teenage girl and even later on in life: Been there, done that! Lack of self-esteem. Self-doubt. Feeling stupid. Feeling unworthy. All that crap. And in a sick and twisted way finding comfort in believing that maybe I was supposed to feel that way. Maybe feeling miserable and being able to endure feeling miserable was what I was supposed to be. Pretty messed up? Yep. That was me. In parts probably still is. But.. hey, so is Frank. In his own way and he still always finds the right words to sing about it.

~ ~ ~

I thought he had covered all the messy emotions by now and that he will rather write songs about the state of the world. But then he did the IVL shows on YouTube and played new songs like “Fatherless”. Which takes the “moving me profoundly” to a whole new level. Even eight years in. More on that though, once that song is properly released next year.

The more I think about this 8 of thing, maybe I shall do 8 favourite lyrics, 8 favourite pics, 8 favourite gigs posts as well… If I can be bothered with it later this week / months. Stay tuned…

Repost: “We’re Not Just Saving Lives, We’re Saving Souls…”

I’m reposting this from my old blog, because exactly a year ago around this time of day I sat in the DLWP in Bexhill on Sea, excited to see and hear what Frank and the Sleeping Souls had in store for this very unique evening. I miss live music from my favourite artists. So so much! But re-reading this post and remembering all the emotions I felt on this tour and how these songs still or again and sometimes even in new and different ways make me feel so much, makes me grateful, that I’ve got these songs and words in my life in the first place.   

Originally posted on 4/12/2019

Already after I’ve seen the first show of Frank Turner’s No Man’s Land Tour in Bexhill-on-Sea last Friday I started contemplating how to write a blog post about this. Reviews and recaps have been done by more eloquent and knowledgeable (about music) people already. A generic song-by-song or story-by-story recap from me wouldn’t do this amazing experience justice anyway. So I’d like to try something different and hope this will makes sense to anyone. This is going to be a very long post because among other things I’ll be including quite a lot of lyrical quotes. So… I suggest you either grab a drink and get comfy or bookmark this for another time 😉

If you’re reading this without knowing why this tour was different here is a quick introduction: Unlike a regular Frank Turner & the Sleeping Souls gig these shows happened in theatres. All seated. Seats which the audience stayed in until the last four songs. Frank and the Souls sat on stage for the whole time as well, which is quite a change from a regular energetic show with lots of jumping and dancing on stage and in the crowd. The concept as Frank so aptly explained it in the beginning each night: In the first part he played a few songs from the No Man’s Land album and told stories about the women he was singing about. For the second part the band would join him and they did a “deep dive into the old shit”. But not just any random songs or the greatest hits. The songs they picked and especially the order in which they played them formed a well structured narrative arc about Frank’s almost two decades on tour and the life he lived on and off the road and what he learned from it.

Earlier today when I started jotting down my thoughts about these amazing last few days I thought…. why not take some of those songs and create my own narrative? Of this trip. Of my experiences, but of course even more so of why some of these words mean so much to me and why I felt so blessed to hear (and be able to sing along) to them several times in company of people who get it, because these people feel the same way about these songs. These nights felt and consequently this post as well feels a bit like a therapy session. Where I am talking to myself, so make of that what you may.
My narrative follows a different order than Frank told it each night – obviously, because his life and mine are not the same. Far from it. And I might have taken a different meaning from the words he wrote at some point in his life. One of the aspects that make his songwriting so fascinating to me is that even though our lives were and still are so different I still can relate so much to many of these songs. It might just be my interpretation of his words, but that’s just as valid. Frank has stated often enough that any released song is open for interpretation and that he doesn’t claim to be the only one who knows exactly what the song is about.

But now let’s give this a try…

But in the end journey’s brought joys
That outweigh the pain
(Journey of the Magi, 2009)

I must have used these lyrics a few times when I was trying to express why on earth I’m taking it on me to travel hundreds of miles and many hours, to spend money on petrol, train tickets, airfare and/or rooms to sleep in, just to see some guy play some songs. Thanks to my smartwatch I know that for the last five nights on average I didn’t sleep more than 5 hours. My body is exhausted. My vocal chords are strained. I had too much sugar and junk food. But at the same time… I had so much fun. I learned quite a bit about myself again. I made so many wonderful memories. I was inspired. To hear Frank sing the words that mean so much to me always feeds my heart and soul and that’s always, always worth all the “pain” of travelling around Europe.

“Once more to the boards,
One more curtain call,
Give the crowd everything they’re asking for and more.
Always make them laugh,
Try to make them cry,
Always take the stage like it’s the last night of your life.
We aren’t just artists, we are something more:
We’re entertainers.”
(Balthazar, Impressario, 2011)

Frank himself states often enough that he considers himself not just a singer / songwriter, but an entertainer. We all know that even singer AND songwriter are two separate professions or talents. Frank’s quality for getting the crowd – any crowd – interested and engaged and emotionally involved has been one of my favourite things about his gigs from the start. He’s so so good at it and this format let him shine in so many ways. I love to hear him tell stories, because he’s witty and funny and has great timing. But he was also endearingly honest in these stories, which I found incredibly inspiring. It’s one thing to bear your heart and soul in a song, which still can be considered some sort of shield to hide behind. It’s quite another to actually admit and talk about (if only just briefly) mental health issues and addiction and messing up and all that directly to the audience.

Frank wasn’t alone on stage and even though none of the Sleeping Souls was bearing their souls to the audience (ugh, bad pun, I know), they were as always an integral part of the show. Because of their incredible good work on all these arrangements and because of the entertaining banter on stage. Yes, I know some of the bits are / were staged, just as Frank obviously in advance had thought about what to say about each song. There was a narrative after all and that needed a more structured approach. It was still fun to watch each night and especially interesting to see how they turned an accidentally funny moment in Bexhill into an entertaining bit the following nights and caused the right amount of laughter. At least that’s what I thought happened…

But there are some more credits due for the guys in the band. The new arrangements were often mind-blowingly good even if they were also mind-blowingly different from the original. They all are such amazing musicians and I was so glad to be reminded of that in this stripped down setting in venues which were built for musical performances and thus offered an amazing sonic experience. I was so glad I could do more than just one show as it allowed me to focus my attention on different aspects and details each night. Every night though the lovely harmonies of the backing vocals might have been one of my favourite parts. The lighting on stage was also incredible and very fitting each night. So… Kudos, Sleeping Souls, all the (technical) people involved and of course all the crew for making every night an amazing experience.

After these two – sort of introductory for my narrative – songs, I’ll need to get into more emotional and anxious and feeling down and low territory. Which I have been feeling way too often and way too long this year. From the few posts I only ever wrote this year, it feels like 75% were about this vague, unspecific feeling of gloom. Frank has quite a few lyrics which go very well with that state of mind. And even though it might not be really helpful to focus on “how well these words describe the mood I’m in” it was and is helpful to know that other people or at the very least that one person who once put those words down on paper and found a melody to go with them, knows exactly what it feels like. And that alone helps. Here are some of those lyrics…

“And on the worst days,
When it feels like life weighs ten thousand tonnes”
(I Am Disappeared, 2011)

They did this song in such an incredible awesome arrangement. The backing vocals. The lights. The music. And each night the audience was mesmerized and you could have heard a pin drop. Which also goes for most of the other songs. The tales around it and the music and the performance left most of the audience absolutely spellbound. There was no chatter and no distracting noises through most of the set. Utterly brilliant. But I digress…

Some mornings I pray for evening,
For the day to be done.
Some summer days I hide away
And wait for rain to come.
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.
(The Way I Tend To Be, 2013)

I love the slow, stripped down version of the song so much ever since I first listened to it on the Songbook album. They did it beautifully and the simple guitar picking intro almost made me cry every freaking time. These lines sum up my state of gloom even better than the ones above. I muddled through most of 2019 or at least that’s what it felt like. Sometimes due to external circumstances. More often though, because I was just too lazy or too timid or too preoccupied… Not a character trait I like about myself to be honest. Which gets me to another fitting piece of lyrics

And I have fallen down and I’m so much worse than I have ever been.
Oh the season’s acting strange, and I know that something has to change
(The Opening Act Of Spring, 2015)

It’s getting pretty gloomy here now, right? Sorry, folks, but like I said, it’s been my state of mind way too often in 2019. Disappointed in myself for not getting out of this weird funk. For not having the drive to make some changes. Or to stick to some changes I was trying to make. Some things I started over and over again and nothing stuck. It felt rather pathetic and that feeling didn’t really help with my overall mood of gloom.


…they say there is a calm after the passing of the storm,
So I can dream of going back outside when the rain and thunder’s done.
(The Opening Act Of Spring, 2015)

Turnaround in one song? What? Yay? If it were so easy, why didn’t it just click any of the other times I’ve heard that song this year? I don’t know. And I don’t want to claim that being away and seeing a few shows was the big turnaround for my gloomy state of mind. Though… it did help a fucking lot! Honestly. To hear well known words in a new context or to just hear them in a new arrangement or location or whatever. Even before this tour and before I heard all these songs again I was feeling tentatively optimistic that 2020 will be better. That I can and will do better. Maybe I’m naive to be thinking this without having any evidence to back it up yet. But these lyrics are a comforting thought to hold on to. Just as well as…

Because broken people can get better, if they really want to,
Or at least that’s what I have to tell myself if I am hoping to survive.
(Recovery, 2013)

I must have been singing / screaming along to this song quite a bit at any of the Frank & the Souls gig I have been to this year. At least I think it was on the setlist often enough. It never really quite hit home as it did on this tour. Maybe I was more receptive, because when they played it as one of the last few songs this time, I had already had more than one epiphany about Frank’s lyrics or how much the new arrangements made me feel.

I only ever have myself to blame.
These failures shift and shake me in the night,
Like a fever I can’t break try as I might.
(Redemption, 2011)

These lines might have been the biggest revelation for me on this tour. Most probably because of Frank’s introduction to the song, in which he talked about how he used to blame other people for his faults and failures. Until reading “East of Eden” by John Steinbeck made him realize that we all are responsible for our own actions and we can’t blame our failures and bad behaviour on somebody else. In my case it isn’t that I blame other people or circumstances so much for my lack of drive or my failure to stay consistent with habits I want to change. My mind has come up with amazing ways to circumvent logical thinking when it comes to justifying why I do X or Y even though I KNOW it’s a bad decision. And I avoid blaming myself for doing X or Y by just not questioning it any further and… I don’t know why my mind works like that. Maybe a blog post about a gig isn’t the right place to figure it out either. Self-Therapy or not. But Frank’s story about this song definitely made me pause and think “well, I might not blame myself, but it’s still my responsibility and mine alone to make some changes. No one else is going to come and make me do A or B instead of X or Y, that’s what I have to do myself.” Does that make any sense? Probably not, because I’m not sure it does in my own mind right now 😉 So Let’s move on…

When I thought that suffering was something profound,
That weighed down on wise heads,
And not just something to be avoided,
Something normal people dread.
God dammit Amy, well of course I’ve changed.
With all the things I’ve done and the places I’ve been
I’d be a machine if I had stayed the same.
(Tell Tale Sign, 2013)

I admit I only included the first few lines of this quote here, because when I heard them the first time in 2013 they opened my eyes to quite a few things and thus belong to some of my favourite among Frank’s lyrics. I sang my heart out with this song every night and on the Saturday night in London it was an absolute “goosebump moment” to hear the crowd from the very beginning of the song join in with “God dammit, Amy…”. At least it sounded absolutely breathtaking from the circle. But here I want to focus on the second part of this quote. Because even though I’ve listened to this song a million times, just now this time around I thought to myself “Yep, I have changed.” For the better. And just like I once wrote in a long emotional post in 2017, I can’t exactly pin down, what part Frank and his music and the things I’ve done and the people I’ve met, played in this change. They all did contribute and those changes led to others in various aspects of my life. Because I do have a life outside of being a Frank Turner Fangirl, in case you were wondering. I also wrote about all that two years ago and these changes continued. I do feel more confident around people. I am more gregarious in various fields of my life. I still doubt myself too much and too often and I have quite a few more aspects of my life I want and should work on. But all in all…. Yep. Changed. And that’s good.

Don’t worry, if you don’t know what to do,
I’ve spent a little time in worried shoes,
I wore them out through walking, it wasn’t any use.
When you can’t pull through
I will help you, I won’t push you away.
Don’t worry if you don’t know what to do.
I don’t know what I’m doing, no one has a clue,
But you’ll figure it out, and I might too.
(Don’t Worry, 2018)

This is a wonderful song to remind myself to stop worrying – and when you’ve read so far you might have guessed that I do worry a lot. So this one helps me to instead of worrying focus on what might help me to stop worrying. Other people, but also… inspirational words and music. At least that’s how it works for me and this song sums it up wonderfully.

You’re not as messed up as you think you are:
Your self-absorption makes you messier.
Just settle down and you will feel a whole lot better.
Deep down you’re just like everybody else.
(Reasons Not To Be An Idiot, 2008)

In the introduction to this song Frank got rather personal and talked about his struggles with mental health and addiction and how music helped him through some of it. Not just writing his own songs and with that working through some issues, but to hear that one song or record at that one time when you needed to hear it. And I bet 95% of the crowd wanted to shout back “Dude! We know! That’s exactly what your music has done and still does for me.” I guess that introduction made me even more emotional over this song each night as the song itself already did. Because it meant and still sometimes means so much to me to hear somebody else – and even if it’s ‘just’ a songwriter from England – tell me that “I am not as messed up as I fear I am. That I’m going to be ok!” I think I’ve posted these lyrics as some kind of self-affirmation more than enough all over my social media over the years…

And I still believe that everyone
Can find a song for every time they’ve lost, and every time they’ve won.
So just remember, folks, we’re not just saving lives, we’re saving souls,
And we’re having fun
(I Still Believe, 2011)

It’s this song that started my love for Frank and his music and I always sing my heart out when he plays it. I did it even more so at the end of each show on this tour, because the whole second part consisted of songs for times I’ve lost and times I’ve won. And the saving lives and souls part felt never more true than in these nights. For me anyway….

Life is about love, last minutes and lost evenings,
About fire in our bellies and furtive little feelings,
And the aching amplitudes that set our needles all a-flickering,
And help us with remembering that the only thing that’s left to do is live.
(I Knew Prufrock Before He Got Famous, 2008)

They played this song very early on and thus set the tone for the night, but I’d like to bring my story round with this song, because to me it sums up what these evenings and my whole trip actually were all about. For me these gigs and everything I do and experience because I’m going to them are life-affirming. And I need that reminder every once in a while. And that’s why I don’t plan to stop travelling to see Frank Turner play some songs anytime soon.

But when you’re out there floundering, like a lighthouse I will shine.
Be more kind, my friends, try to be more kind.
Like a beacon reaching out to you and yours from me and mine,
Be more kind, my friends, try to be more kind.
(Be More Kind, 2018)

Last year I wrote a long post about why I love this song so much and what these words mean to me and thus I thought this was the perfect song to end these fabulous nights and also the perfect song to bring my own narrative to a close. In recent years I did my best to be more kind. To others and also to myself, because often enough I’m not. If you could tune into the inner chatter going on in my mind, you would see what I mean. But this also is where Frank’s songs and the comfort and inspiration I draw from those songs come into play. And the validation in form of lyrics that tell me “feeling like this ok, we’ve all been there”. Frank’s songs have been lighthouses and beacons when I was floundering in the past and I assume they will continue to be and for that I’m so very, very grateful.

I feel like I should end this long confessional-style kind of narrative with a real “confession”. For the longest time I considered the album version of “Be More Kind” a perfect piece of music. And I thought no new arrangement could be as good and touch me as profoundly as the original does. Oh boy, was I wrong. The version they played on this tour was incredible. Thank you so much for this, Frank. And for everything else.