Reasons Not To Be An Idiot – Frank Turner

This was the first Frank Turner song I heard. It found me at a time I needed it to. It’s got a great central conceit to it’s lyrics, about not getting wrapped up in your own ego. It tells you that you’re not the center of the universe. It also tells you everyone else is dealing with the same or similar niggles, insecurities and shortcomings as yourself.

“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”

It’s a great leveller (and would sound great by The Levellers). The lyrics do this with the warmth and wit of a friend and equal, rather that in some pious preachy way. Musically it is the perfect sampler before digging deeper into Frank Turner’s back catalog. Straddling the rock and folk divide through the same hole in the fence Billy Bragg cut two and half decades earlier, core Frank Turner tunes occupy a wordy earthy foot stomping space that can veer into Springsteen, heavy metal, honky tonk, bluegrass or finger in the ear one legged-ness from one track to the next.

“He’s not as clever as he likes to think he’s just ambitious with his arguing, He’s crap at dancing, yeah and he can’t hold his drink deep down he’s just like everybody else”

This is an equal opportunities dressing down so it can make space for a building up. The veneer of difference is sanded away from friends, strangers, men, women and for one verse Frank himself.

“I’m not as awesome as this song makes out, I’m angry, underweight and sketching out, I’m building bonfires on my vanities and doubts to get warm just like everybody else”

Each time the deconstruction is punctuated with an uplifting chorus about getting out and getting on with life. Frank Turner’s ‘pull you up by your boot straps’ form of musical therapy may feel over simplistic to some, but it was just the clarion call I needed when I first heard it. It’s been put to good use several times since.

In an opportunistic and tenuous piece of scheduling here at Steve For The Deaf we’re going to use the lyrics from the second verse as an opener for what is about to go down in history as Songs By, For & About The Smiths Week.

“She’s not as pretty as she thinks she is, just picture her after she’s had kids, I bet she sits at home and listens to The Smiths, deep down she’s just like everybody else”


3 thoughts on “Reasons Not To Be An Idiot – Frank Turner

  1. I had finished with my semester abroad in winter/spring 2010, and was travelling a bit in Ireland. I stayed with a friend in Ireland that I had met early on in the trip at a monastery in France. My flight home was delayed when the volcano eruption in Iceland shut down all air travel in Europe with a massive ash cloud. I found myself adopted into his friend group in Dublin for a week. While riding in another friend’s car, they turned on “Love, Ire & Song” by Frank Turner. Maybe it was being out of the loop for awhile during my travels, maybe it was having a unique introduction… but for whatever reason, Frank Turner has since been very influential for me. I connect with a lot of his message, and love his punk rock attitude. This was one of my first favorites of his.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I think the oversimplification is why it works; think about self-help speak, most of it is just plain and simple truth. Where I’m coming from, this is high philosophy, and I know a lot of people who could use a good dose of it. Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

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