If Ever I Stray
Taken from the ’England Keep My Bones’ album, ‘If Ever I stray’ is a straight up, outspoken reminder about the little and most important things we have in our lives. It was made to shake you up from any problem you might have. These are the things: Love, which is free, and if the one you have does not work out - look for the other one. Shelter, clothes and food - luckily it’s cheap. Embrace what you have and move forward.
Turner sings: “If ever I stray from the path I follow, Take me down to the English Channel, Throw me in where the water is shallow, And then drag me on back to shore!’'Cos love is free and life is cheap, As long as I've got me a place to sleep, Clothes on my back and some food to eat, I can't ask for anything more”.
Four Simple Words
This one for all the musicians and hard working people out there. Even when you play ‘Four Simple Words’ for the first time, you quickly understand the song is a proper Punk Rock anthem. It’s about doing what you love, but more importunely - working very hard for it. And if what you love is not working out for you - Try to change your way, make it your way.
Turner sings: “I want to dance, I want to dance, I want lust and love and a smattering of romance., But I'm no good at dancing, yet I have to do something. Tonight I'm going to play it straight, I'm going to take my chance”. And throws a reminder about what hard work is all about: “I want bands who had to work for their keep, Drove a thousand miles and played a show on no sleep, Sleeping on the floor in a stranger's place, Hungry just to do it all again the next day”.
Some will say that ‘Get Better’ includes the best motivation lyrics written by Frank Turner. Taken from ‘Positive Song for Negative People’, Turner perfectly speaks the moments of being really down, with no energy to get up. But then, with the help of someone, you can rise. It’s gonna be a long and a painful road, but you can do it, and never give up. Do it For love, - for you.
And the chorus goes: “I’m trying to get better because I haven't been my best, She took a plain black marker, started writing on my chest, She drew a line across the middle of my broken heart, And said: ‘Come on now, let's fix this mess’, We could get better, Because we're not dead yet”. After putting this message deep within you, it’s only up to you to get up, and so he switches it: “So try and get better and don't ever accept less, Take a plain black marker and write this on your chest, Draw a line underneath all of this unhappiness, Come on now, let's fix this mess, We could get better, Because we're not dead yet”.
Love Ire & Song
One of the most intelligent lyrics written by Turner, and no wonder he decides to name the album after this title. Using a lot of metaphors and digging deep into the meaning of it all, Turner recaps life and the disappointments we encounter as grown ups. It’s true, being an adult sucks. But with all the trouble, we can get stronger, dream big, and leave the drama behind us.
“Let's be heroes, let's be martyrs, let's be radical thinkers”, He sings, “Who never have to test drive the least of their dreams. Let's divide up the world into the damned and the saved And then ride to the valley like the old light brigade, And straighten our backs and we won't be afraid, And they'll celebrate our deaths with a national parade, So come on, let's be young, let's be crass enough to care, Let's refuse to live and learn, let's make all our mistakes again, yes, And then darling, just for one day, yeah, we can fight and we can win, And if only for a little while, we could insist on the impossible”.
People that experienced heartache in their lives - know this feeling very well, unfortunately. It’s about not knowing if the person you are in love with is still there for you. More so, knowing that person is drifting away because you are not stronger as he or she is. Heartache makes you feel lots of self shame, but it’s in that exact time that you have to reach out for that person and let him or her know. Believe they can help you, and you can help yourself by doing so, because keeping it all inside will drain your heart and soul.
And so, from the ‘Tape Deck Heart’ album, Turner writes: “If you could just give me a sign, just a subtle little glimmer. Some suggestion that you'd have me if I could only make me better. Then I would stand a little stronger as I walk a little taller, all the time. Because I know you are a cynic but I think I can convince you. Yeah, cause 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! So darling, sweet lover, won't you help me to recover, Darling, sweet lover, one day this will all be over”.
One Foot Before the Other
If lots of Turner’s songs deal with the motivation to pull yourself through the day while living, this is about what’s gonna happen when we’re gone. And we are all going to die, no other way around it. In this one, taken from ‘England Keep My Bones’, and in upbeat anthem, Turner describes his wishes right after he will leaves this world. Reminding us that not only him, but all of us are a part of others that once walked this earth. Just read these words: “On the very day I die, The very last of my desires, Is that you take my broken body, And commit it to the fire, And then when the fire is finished, Scrape the ashes in a tin, Take them down to London’s drinking reservoirs, And throw them in, And then specks infinitesimal of my mortal remains, Will slide down 7 million throats and into 7 million veins, And I will creep through their capillaries to the marrow of their bones, And they will wake to bright new mornings and then wordlessly they’ll know That I remain. I am remembered”.
I Knew Prufrock Before He Got Famous
In this one, taken from ‘Love Ire & Song’, Turner recalls his friends from back in the day, a thing he often does with his lyrics, always having lots of love for the people that walked by his side. It’s about looking back at the days when you we’re hoping to be something that you are not, famous or materially successful. But then, putting it all aside, and in sort of a Buddhist way, finding out what life is really all about, it’s about life.
If this does not make any sense, Turner explains it better: “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 Still Believe
Many of Turner’s fans tattooed this song’s title on their bodies, and justifiably so. Straight up and to the point, Turner talks about musicians and artists - but it can be about anyone of us, depressed and forgetting why we choose the thing we do everyday. Bringing the power back to us.
“And I still believe (I still believe) in the saints. Yeah, in Jerry Lee and in Johnny and all the greats”, he sings, “And I still believe (I still believe) in the sound, That has the power to raise a temple and tear it down. And I still believe (I still believe) in the need, For guitars and drums and desperate poetry. And I still believe (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 not just saving lives, we're saving souls, And we're having fun”.
Love Forty Down
Heartache could be the hardest pain of them all. Love will drag you down into the deepest holes of your soul and mop the floor with your remaining. But it also can lift you up as the most powerful drug in the world. Making you feel in heaven, empowered, wealthy, feeling absolute joyful. In this one (from ‘Positive Song for Negative People), Turner once again rises up, using his last strength. “I’m love forty down, As the match slips away from me, I need the crowd to pray for me, To turn this one around, I’ve worked far too hard to be this far from victory. I’m battered and I'm bruised, And I can't afford to lose. I'm love forty down, As the day slips away from me, I have to say that honestly, I still haven't found, The person who can take the strain of deuce and fine it's back again, So, I'll do this on my own, There's no one waiting when I'm done”.
Just like a pro boxer, Turner with his lyrics goes deep into your emotions, and then, a second before the fight is finished - He knocks you down. In ‘Substitute’ (from ‘Love Ire & Song’), he talks about how he is grateful for music, how it saved him, keeping him happy and not lonely, making him trust as it’s his only one safe place in the world.
He sings how the music is his substitute for love, and in that way, he can go on living his happy life. But then, he knocks you to the floor with only one line. Leaving you overwhelmed: ‘But oh, what I would give, not to stumble but to really fall in love, And I could substitute my singing for the sound of someone sleeping next to me’.
And one song from us to motivate Frank Turner, and all of you.
As an opposite in this column, there is nothing optimistic about ‘Better Half’. Turner is hurting, knowing the one that he loves is far away, living her life with another man. He breaks our hearts when he sings: ‘There must be a better half, somewhere out there, She lives a better life, a life that shares, Shares with a better man, The man who is there when she calls in the night, Who says ‘Hey, it's alright. Hey, it’s alright’”.
Well Frank, and everyone else who is in a similar situation, Remember this: Fu*k him. You are much of a better man than he is.