“I’m a Wessex boy/And when I’m here I’m home … There’s something about coming back to your hometown again/The place where you grew up and where you found your firmest friends.”
These words have been sung internationally by Frank Turner, the Hampshire-raised punk/folk singer with a down-to-earth, passionate, people-power style. Frank’s (can I call you Frank?) video for ‘Wessex Boy’ reveals through the lyrics and locations how proud he is of being a Winchestarian, using a team of local musicians to stroll through the streets of the former capital city singing about his birthplace. According to his website this was because he was touring America at the time, and so would not be able to return to Hampshire to visit his favourite haunts, strum and sing; therefore he sent out a plea to fans to fill in for him, using Winchester’s liberal busking laws to parade through the city on a sunny Sunday.
Frank Turner has written and sung about subjects big and small, from growing up in Winchester (‘Wessex Boy’) to music trends, kids and growing up (‘Photosynthesis’). This ability to communicate his heart’s desires with such fervour and strength lends him to the young, the students and the rebels of the United Kingdom.
Turner’s lyrics describing Winchester talk of his experiences, ranging from “drinking on the cathedral grounds”, “dodging drunks as we dance along Jewry Street” and “huddling on the Buttercross” to “the triumphs and tragedies” of living in Wessex. This heartfelt approach also features in ‘Eulogy’, the first song on his album England Keep My Bones — “Not everyone grows up to be an astronaut/Not everyone was born to be a king/Not everyone can be Freddie Mercury/But everyone can raise a glass and sing”. This reveals an honesty that is rare in modern music, music that is commonly ghost-written and speaks of ‘shawties’ and unobtainable lifestyles.
If we had been at the Winchester School of Art a few years ago, we may well have seen Frank Turner play at the Railway, singing on open mic nights, singing of his hometown — the wonderful Winchester.
By Graham Read