Monday, July 25, 2016

How I Would Introduce Frank Turner

One of the fringe benefits of working in a bookstore is sometimes one of your non-book heroes writes a book, goes on tour, and you get to meet them. (I met Bobby Orr!) So when I saw Frank Turner wrote a book, I did what any rational person would do and immediately started begging the store's events coordinator to beg for him to read at the store. The appropriate number of emails were sent and we were assured that someone would let him know he had an invite to read at Porter Square Books whenever he was in Boston next. Unfortunately, his tour schedule wasn't going anywhere near Boston for the foreseeable future and even when it eventually does, given his relentless touring schedule, I can't blame him if decides to spend his precious little free time doing something besides performing.

But, of course, it isn't just about meeting your heroes. If you're comfortable speaking in public (I am) and have a level of cultural capital at the store (I do) you can also introduce them at said events. We almost never get the chance to thank the strangers who are important in our lives, those big distant figures who occupy swathes and monuments in our emotional and intellectual lives and when I can introduce someone special to me, I think of it as both an introduction for an audience and a thank you for that person. I want them to know that all the effort that goes into making music and writing books means something, at least to me.

So given that I don't expect Frank Turner will read at the store any time in the near future, here is how I would introduce him.

It was about 1:40 in the morning on a Tuesday or so, and, as is part of my routine, I was up reading. My roommate at the time burst out of his room and said, “Dude, you've got to listen to this.” He queued up the song on his iPad again and hit play. “A teacher of mine once told me, that life was just a list of disappointments and defeats and you can only do your best.” For the first time in my life, I heard someone articulate my politics, express all the anger with both the authority that seeks to restrict and the strategies and techniques of those who seek to free, and describe the frustration of trying to figure out how to make a difference and the strange elation that comes from knowing you are fighting even when you're pretty sure you're going to lose.

As I listened to more of his music, it felt like he crawled into my head and wrote songs about what he found there, turning my hopes for what a new humanism in art and society might look like and the lower stakes quirks of loving books that will never be bestsellers into catchy choruses and sing along anthems. The goal of any writer, any musician, any artist really, is to give the rest of us something on which to hang our thoughts and emotions. To create words that capture the otherwise unapproachable thoughts in our heads. To tell us all that we are not alone. Whether I won't sit stand down and won't shut up or I've been having dreams or those bastards that kicked away the ladder and told the rest of us that life's a bitch or no one gets remembered for the things they didn't do, Frank Turner has been giving me my thoughts and telling me I'm not alone since that early Tuesday morning. Who knew my Bruce Springsteen would be a half-assed English country singer?

I don't know if this is a good introduction for Frank Turner, especially since I haven't even mentioned his book yet, The Road Beneath My Feet, a tour diary that lets you into the life of a musician trying to make something that resembles a living doing what he loves. I also haven't told you any of the information about Frank Turner that's usually included in these introductions and I haven't quoted from any reviews or recited any blurbs. And I'm sure I haven't captured the reason why you're here and why Frank Turner is special to you. But on the day I die they'll say at least I fucking tried.

Thank you all again for joining us and please welcome Frank Turner.

No comments:

Post a Comment