Why I don’t like Frank Turner.
Hello avid readers. I figured that this post may gain somewhat of a negative reaction from some of you as Frank Turner is quite a popular guy. So I’d like to start by saying that this is my opinion, you are very much entitled to your own, even it may be completely misplaced… in my eyes at least.
I thought I was going to love Frank Turner. A lot of the music that I really, really love revolves mostly around the lyrics. And… through the grapevine, I heard this was Frank’s strongpoint. I’d heard his little song about Winchester and thought it was ok, if a bit annoying. And when I heard he had written a song called “I knew Prufrock before he was famous” I thought that was it… I would love him. It was a cracking title, but no more than that.
Frank Turner’s lyrics are dull and bland. They simply aren’t poetic. Many of you may say this isn’t the point, and that with songs like “Thatcher Fucked the Kids” he’s deliberately just being angry, and pointedly political. But, this is where it all sort of goes wrong for me.
Now, I wanted to stay clear of making comparisons to Dylan with Frank. I have a tendency to compare people to Dylan, but when I read in the NME that Billy Bragg said that Frank Turner followed in the line of politico-folk singer songwriters “I see a line that runs through Dylan, Joe Strummer me and Frank.” I could no longer avoid the comparison.
To begin with. Dylan never consciously tried to be a political songwriter, and he strayed away from this by about the time of “Bringing it All Back Home” and his political songs, were still beautifully crafted, angry, poetic songs. He wrote incredible lyrics. There’s no getting away from it. Take the opening lines of Chimes of Freedom,
“Far between sundown’s finish an’ midnight’s broken toll
We ducked inside the doorway, thunder crashing
As majestic bells of bolts struck shadows in the sounds
Seeming to be the chimes of freedom flashing”
You can’t say that’s not poetic. I’m not going to get too weighed down in what I mean by “poetic” because we all have our own definitions of words, but there’s no denying Dylan’s poeticism. Dylan speaks with anger, but still poetically, and makes a point that is clear, but at the same time, multi layered. I don’t want to get too deep into what I mean by that, this post isn’t about Dylan. But, the same cannot be said for Frank,
“Whatever happened to childhood?
We’re all scared of the kids in our neighboorhood;
They’re not small, charming and harmless,
They’re a violent bunch of bastard little shits.”
There is nothing clever about those lyrics. You might think I’m saying that because there’s swearing in it, and that it’s being blunt. But, it Is just poor writing. The swear word is just planted in there as if to say, yeahhhh look at me, I can swear, I’m a punk folk singer, yeahhh. . Swearing in songs can be used well, if you want examples of this, go to the Libertines…
His points are pretty clear, and there’s nothing clever about them. He sort of just says them. He also name drops ridiculously. He mentions Jack Kerouac, Baudelaire, TS Eliot in his writing, but it’s so unsubtle, that It really is just name dropping. Something in his lyrics just seems false. I’m not convinced by anything he writes. (He describes Jay Jay Pistolet from the Vaccines as being the last of the romantic poets as well, which is a bit bizarre.) Anyway, at the heart of Frank‘s writing is a big hypocrisy. He pretends to be a sort of Working Class Hero, and is portrayed as such in the media (in NME they describe how he was once a struggling song writer e.t.c) but… he went to Eton for christsake! Eton!
Now this would be fine, if his songs were good. But they’re not. And I think this is why his song writing is so stilted and unconvincing. How he has managed to convince so many is beyond me. He is an average singer, average guitar player, and his songs all sound the same. There must be clearly something I’m missing. Try to explain it to me if you like… but many have already tried.
I just don’t like Frank Turner.