Frank Turner. Image via BBC
Yesterday on Upside Down Shark, I started counting down my personal Top 50 favourite Frank Turner songs. Numbers 50 through 41 of my list saw a couple of fan favourites arriving perhaps a bit earlier than some might have expected and a fair chunk of songs from latest album ‘Be More Kind’. Well, there’s not much point trying to ramble on here, so let’s just jump into numbers 40 through 31, shall we?
40. Long Live the Queen – Love Ire & Song
‘You’ll live to dance another day. It’s just now you’ll have to dance for the two of us’
Yup. I know. Started part 2 of the countdown with yet another fan favourite song. But look, I promise this is the last one that will seem way lower than it ought to be. Well, ok, maybe there’s 1 more. Hey, it’s my list, ok?
At any rate, ‘Long Live the Queen’ is a song with rapid fire lyrics on the subject of a friend of Frank’s, Lex, who was taken into hospital whilst suffering with breast cancer and would sadly go on to pass. But I think it’s a very hope filled way of looking at and dealing with a friend’s passing, the chorus effectively being made up of some words Lex had said to Frank whilst she was still alive.
In recent years, when played live, this song has featured a much more typical full band sound than that found on the album, and a recording of this version can be heard on Frank’s recent compilation album ‘Songbook’. Definitely worth a listen.
39. Reasons Not to Be an Idiot – Love Ire & Song
‘So why are you sat at home? You’re not designed to be alone’
‘Reasons Not to Be an Idiot’ sees Frank taking a look at some of the people around him (although I don’t know if these are real people or just created for the purpose of the song), explaining their problems and how they could go about fixing them to make themselves feel better. Ok, maybe that makes the song sound very longwinded and I’ve read too much into it…
The lyrics are humorous, and the chorus is a particular standout among Frank’s catalogue when it comes to his trademark uplifting style. He even takes aim at himself in the second verse, and above all else it’s a song about how, in spite of our differences and problems, we’re all very much cut from the same cloth.
38. Little Changes – Be More Kind
‘So far from okay, tongue-tied and afraid. The big things stay the same until we make little changes’
Now I must admit, I thought ‘Little Changes’ would end up way higher on this list. It’s an incredibly catchy song, very unlike anything else Frank had done up to the time of its release, and I’ll admit I wasn’t sure on it when I first heard it. Fitting the theme of the ‘Be More Kind’ album, the song takes a look at trying to make the world better with little changes to routine, opposed to attempting big sweeping changes.
As mentioned, it’s a very catchy song, with multiple different parts that could get stuck in your head. Whether it be the ‘oh-oh’ chants throughout or the trumpet and saxophone lines which elevate the happier nature of the song, it’s basically a song made up of various different earworms. A definite highlight of the album for me.
37. Poetry of The Deed – Poetry of The Deed
‘Life is too short to live without poetry, if you’ve got soul darling now come on and show it me’
‘Poetry of The Deed’ is pretty much a straight forward Rock song that serves as the title track of the album, and I would say it’s the shining example of the various styles present on the album all coming together as one. Frank has described the song as being about his belief that ‘life is what you make of it, and that you can seize life by the horns’.
I’ve not got a whole lot more to say about this one, I just rather like it.
36. A Love Worth Keeping – Love Ire & Song
‘I guess you never know, lost until you have something to lose’
My favourite thing about this track is the electric guitar riff that plays over the more sombre and subdued musical canvas that is the rest of the song. It reminds me a little bit of something you’d hear in the video game series Ty The Tasmanian Tiger, which is a reference I suppose might not be all that well known.
That riff aside, the swell of this song is very delicate and beautiful. As well as this, it’s actually one of my favourite Frank Turner vocals, the final note held in the song especially makes my hair stand on end. I don’t think many people necessarily think of Frank as an exceptional singer, but he has a good number of moments where he truly excels in that department, and this is one of them for me.
35. The Ballad of Me and My Friends – Sleep Is for The Week
‘And we’re definitely going to Hell, but we’ll have all the best stories to tell’
The song that closes Frank’s first album, it’s a tale of his early days and how he’d contact anyone and everyone he could to come and see him play at his regular shows, all whilst dreaming of bigger things. The song is simply Frank and his guitar, but has one of my favourite sing-along moments in the form of the lyrics quoted above.
34. Sons of Liberty – Poetry of The Deed
‘Stand up sons of liberty and fight for what you own. Stand up sons of liberty and fight, fight for your home’
‘Sons of Liberty’ is a song that deals with people’s right to be left alone, and how the government seems to want to involve itself more and more in the everyday lives of those it serves. Even more so though, it’s a song looking back through history to a time when this wasn’t the case, and how we should look at that example and resist more in the present. That’s what it means to me anyway.
The backdrop for these words is a suitably folky style, and even features an excellent fiddle solo towards the end that leads into a massive refrain which genuinely gets me pumped and makes me want to march against my enemies. They know who they are. A song with an epic and triumphant sound that just feels brilliant to listen to.
33. I Am Disappeared – England Keep My Bones
‘And come morning. I am disappeared. Just an imprint on the bed sheets’
Whenever ‘I Am Disappeared’ is played live it’s a song that gets a massively ecstatic welcome. Now, I’m not one of those people who goes mad for this song in that way, definitely not when I first heard it. Although, as I have aged with the song, I do find myself more and more drawn to it.
The lyrics are ostensibly about dreams and wanting to get away from it all at a moment’s notice, something I think we’ve all wanted to follow through on at least once in our lives. And I must say, it’s definitely one of Frank’s best sets of lyrics, both hopeful and yet seemingly melancholic in equal measure.
As well as this, I’m sure I don’t need to tell most readers that Frank’s backing band, The Sleeping Souls, took their name from the lyrics of this song. A fun fact to mention nonetheless.
32. Substitute – Love Ire & Song
‘Well I’ve had many different girls inside my bed, but only one or two inside my head’
To me, this song is something of a bedfellow for ‘Romantic Fatigue’ from the previous album (number 41 on my list). Mostly because Frank again mentions writing a number of songs for different women he’s been with. No real link I suppose, just an aside. Although this time, Frank sings about the women who he’s been with and with whom relationships haven’t worked out, and how the one true love he has constantly in his life is music. Or, in better terms, how music is his substitute for love.
As well as this however, he does go on to talk about how much he wishes that music didn’t have to be the substitute and that he could really find someone he can truly fall in love with. Of course, here we are nearly 11 years later and Frank is engaged. I guess it goes to show that even if you are struggling now, in the future life can be a whole lot better.
31. Father’s Day – Sleep Is for The Week
‘What’s the point in making vows you were never going to keep? A lifetime lying awake means you’ll never get to sleep’
‘Father’s Day’ is a deeply personal song on the subject of Frank’s fraught relationship with his Father, examined in 2 different lights. The first being when Frank was a teenager and his Father was disappointed in him for cutting himself a mohawk. The second being later in life when Frank’s Father was in the throes of middle age and the way he was choosing to live was disappointing Frank, and with that, parallels are drawn.
Lyrics aside, my personal highlight of the song is the violin line. Without it, I think the song would really struggle to live up to the potential brought on by the emotion and sometimes rawness of the lyrics and vocal.
And that concludes part 2 and the second 10 entries of my personal Top 50 favourite Frank Turner songs. How do my songs in these slots compare to the songs you’d put in these slots? Come back tomorrow as the countdown passes the halfway mark with numbers 30 through 21!
(EDIT: Part 3 of my list can be found here)