England Keep My Bones

This week I have done something I haven’t done in a long time.

I bought a CD.

An honest-to-goodness Compact Disc of music.

In this digital age, with the advent of online downloads and Spotify, I honest cannot remember the last CD I bought. It has been several years at the very least. But this week that changed. And why? Frank Turner is why.

I’ve been a fan of Frank Turner since he first began his solo career a few years back, with the heart-wrenching/warming ballad of ‘Long Live The Queen’ or the vitriol of ‘Love, Ire and Song’ both becoming firm favourites (as mentioned on last weeks post). He has always had a talent for mixing the heart-felt with the anger of the post-punk world and the street stories of the bands such as The Streets.

But I never bought his first album. I didn’t buy his second. I didn’t buy his third, any of his EPs or compilations. They were all bookmarked withing various music systems but I never went any further.

But, this week, I paid several of my hard earned monies for his fourth album, England Keep My Bones. And the reasons why run deeper than just music taste, into something a world deeper and murkier.

I’m English. I was born in an unremarkable town in the south of England. And whilst I have never been ashamed of my town or country, I have always swayed away from the idea of pride. National Pride. We English tend to be a mass of contradictions, we revel in the knowledge and confidence that we once owned must of the world, and yet are mildly ashamed of it. We like to think we can command international weight but tend to that sucky-in-air noise that plumbers do when we think we might be being self-righteous on a global scale. Whilst we are staunch torch-bearers for the importance of history and tradition, we fight against the label of out-dated. Mix in with this the bastardisation of most of our national symbols by the far-right idiots, you have a confused mix. We don’t have the core of national pride over here that the US does, or even the sense of a national identity that some of our mainland Europe cousins do.

This being said, this new album has made me oddly proud of being English. Nostalgic of a world I probably never knew.

It works to portray the feel of being English, the essence of it. It covers ideas of death, love, the connection between the English people and our landscape. It mixes the very traditional (English Curse) with the much more modern (Peggy Sang The Blues). But the stand out track for me is Wessex Boy. When I first heard this, goosebumps all over. It is all about going home again, to the town your grew up in.

There’s something about coming back to your hometown again,
The place where you grew up and where you found your firmest friends,
And though none of them still live here, I’ve got nowhere to go,
I’m a Wessex Boy, a Wessex boy and when I’m here I’m home

As said earlier, I’m from quite a non-descript town in Berkshire, but this chorus encapsulates perfectly what I feel when I go back to Reading. It is a town that gets a lot of strife for its lack of remarkable nature, but to me it’s home. And, for the first time in a long time, I’m proud of where I’m from, Town and Country.

There’s something about hometowns you never can escape
The triumphs and the tragedies and those of little faith
The welling of nostalgia and feeling kind of strange,
Cause despite the little changes yeah this place still feels the same

I can only urge you to go give it a listen and hope you dig it as much as I do…

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