Dear Mr Turner,
Last night, the 8th of August, you and your band The Sleeping Souls played a nice set as the opener for Flogging Molly at Red Rocks Amphitheatre in beautiful Morrison, Colorado.
Unfortunately I wasn't able to catch your full set, as I had to work late and didn't get into my seat until nearly 8:40pm.
However, I was able to catch a few tunes and they were indeed enjoyable. But you know what was really special?
The bit where you decided to share your opinion on one of the candidates running for the office of the President of these here United States.
During what we here in the U.S. refer to as the campaign season, there is just no escaping the barrage of messages & mudslinging from both of the major political parties - seriously, it is everywhere - television, radio, the internet - every and any form of media that can be bought is broadcasting the lies, misinformation, half-truths, and promises-soon-to-be-broken of the two major political party's candidates for the U.S. Presidency - and there is (again, seriously) just no shutting it out!
Which I'm sure a smart young man such as yourself, even though you are a British subject and not a U.S. citizen, are well aware of.
That did not hold you back for a second though. You knew the majority of us in the audience were in agreement with your views (Did you fully appreciate the cheer you got after your little quip? Had to be as close to attending one of those Nazi rallies of the '30's & '40's as most of us in the audience will ever get) and you knew it was pretty much your responsibility to add to the overabundance of political views currently being shared everywhere, by everyone, every minute of the day, here in the U.S.
You did not let the thought that maybe, just maybe, there might be one or two people in the audience who were attending the concert to be ENTERTAINED and not subjected to the same political opinions they probably have endured from family, friends, co-workers, strangers-in-bars, etc., and will probably have to further endure every single last day from now until after the first week of November.
Oh no, not you. You are made of tougher stuff than that and the pathetic CONSIDERATION for the need others may have to ESCAPE the near constant barrage of political demagoguery currently being spewed by both sides of the political spectrum was not going to hinder you from sharing your succinct, insightful political opinion.
There are some people who believe that political views, like religious beliefs, are a personal matter and should only be discussed in situations where there is a mutual agreement among all in attendance to do so, as otherwise divisions may arise which in turn could lead to acrimony or at least foul moods among those few in attendance who disagree with the views expressed.
But again, not you. You put on your big boy pants and let everyone at the concert, every single last person, from the poor saps who paid hard-earned cash to simply spend an evening ENJOYING a couple of bands playing rockin' tunes, have a few drinks costing more than entire 6-packs of beer or full bottles of liquor, and maybe dance - you know the type, those who just want to GET AWAY from the CARES & WORRIES of their day-to-day lives if only for a few hours; to those who paid hard-earned cash in the hopes that at least one member of the bands on the bill wouldn't just stick to being a boring old entertainer and would go off on an extremely polarizing (no matter how brief) political rant, thus enhancing their enjoyment of the show.
That was just about the coolest thing ever Mr. Turner.
Well, not actually ever, as I should confess you are not the first entertainer I have paid money to see who has shared his or her political views with the captive audience - I'd guesstimate that more than half of the acts/bands I've seen in the past decade have been kind enough to enhance the concert-attending experience by sharing their political views with the cheering fans. Hell, just a month or so ago Dave Wakeling of The English Beat was kind enough to let all of us at that show know just how much he still loathed Margaret Thatcher.
So, yeah, no points for originality, sorry.
But still, it is just totally awesome, to use the vernacular of my youth, that you gave all of us, each and everyone of the nearly 10,000 fans at Red Rocks Monday night, the benefits of your keen ability to see through all the smokescreens and flimflammery being foisted on us poor, dense, lacking-in-intellect-and-political-acumen citizens of the U.S. by one of the two major political party presidential candidates and their zealous supporters.
After all, we only have several 24-hour news channels and who knows how many talk radio shows, a bazillion or so internet forums, podcasts & blogs, etc. trying to direct our thinking or form our opinions for us sheeple (to use a currently popular colloquialism). Lord knows we need the clear insights of a talented musician and lyricist such as yourself.
BTW, and not to be a sycophant here, but you wrote one of my favorite lyrics ever a few years back, the last line in Live Fast, Die Old off Poetry of the Deed, "It won't last so be bold, live fast and die old, choose your path, show soul, live fast and die old" - great stuff that, a good pick-me-up and motivator for all who need to be reminded that time is short and life can be made sweet if you just take action and actually live.
You write quite a bit about how life can be great if one just makes the effort, and also about the good that people tend to blind themselves to - I mean, Reasons Not To Be An Idiot is brilliant - "Get up and get down and get outside" indeed. You have a great world view which I truly appreciate.
Damn, I'm digressing, sorry about that. To get back to the point of this missive, years ago, when I first heard your music and became a fan I had hopes that some day I would get to see you in concert in order to ENJOY your MUSIC live.
I also hoped you wouldn't be one of those lame entertainers who save their views and opinions, whether political, social, etc., for interviews that would appear in Rolling Stone or Spin, or appearances on Graham Norton's show. I mean, c'mon, who in the states reads anyway, much less has the taste to watch Graham Norton on BBC America?
Which proved to be the case! How lucky can one man get?!
Monday night, after I violated posted speed limits and several common-sense road safety rules to get to Red Rocks from south Denver in time to catch even the slightest bit of your set I found myself standing in-between two sets of seat crashers enjoying the sounds of you and The Sleeping Souls (all the while suppressing the urge to knock the crap out of the seat crashing asshat on my right who kept leaning around me to talk to his seat crashing asshat friend on my left), despite not being able to find the friends I was supposed to meet up with there (one of my friends did call me in response to my "Where you at?" text - yes, you read that right, called me as I stood among almost 10,000 singin' and hollerin' fans of a rather well-amplified band - which made having a cell phone conversation nigh impossible - but reading a text, if one had been sent in response to my text...well, that would have not been so difficult), and sipping on a $9.25 12 oz beer.
After winding up the first song of yours I was able to catch, that's when the magic happened - you pulled out (in an almost apologetic fashion) your opinion on one of the two major politic party candidates running for the office of U.S. President and shared it loud and proud - and not only that, but you even told us we were too good, as Americans, to let that particular politician's candidacy happen.
And the crowd cheered, reassuring you, Frank Turner, that what you stated was a clear and eloquent truth, and that not one person in attendance was put off by that brief, minor display of constitutionally protected Freedom of Speech (and you didn't even have to bother with standing on a box in a corner of Hyde Park to do it).
Let me reiterate - that part, the whole crowd cheering on your pronouncement, that was the real special part, very warm & cozy & Nazi-youth-rally like. Gives me goose pimples just recalling the moment.
For that, I salute you Mr. Turner. Heaven forbid the day comes when musicians/entertainers ever get the notion that people pay hard-earned cash and make ridiculous efforts to attend concerts solely to be ENTERTAINED or to simply ENJOY an evening with friends without having to endure yet another political diatribe.
Especially in this day and age when we have all learned that the only people we should be getting our political opinions from are the musicians or entertainers we enjoy listening to or admire - after all, most if not all of them have extensively studied political science and are well versed (no pun intended...) in all the right philosophy's...right?
Oh, one more thing - If you get a chance could you let the members of Flogging Molly know I enjoyed their performance? Hadn't seen them since they played the Fillmore in May of 2010 and I'll tell you what, for a bunch of old dudes (not Rolling Stones or Macca old, but still, older than me) they can get people up out of their seats and bring down the house.
And least I forget, I finally did find my friends, BTW, after I had taken a brief timeout to refresh my spirits during the first few songs of FM's set, as I had inexplicably fallen into a very foul mood. Probably due to the hassle of a day I had at work (you would not believe all the political opinions I have to endure from both customers and co-workers - never have understood why people feel it is so important to share their political views with me), or maybe it was the seat crashers not being fully aware that the big bald muscular dude with a regrettable past that was between them was having to make a huge effort to not bust heads (For as we all know violence solves nothing - and neither does Red Rocks security, BTW) - in the end I just simply left the seat I paid for and made my way up to G.A., where, while much, much further from the stage, I was better able to enjoy the FM show before joining my friends in section 40.
I've received a few emails today asking if this sarcastic little rant of mine is the result of my being put off by Frank Turner's political comment because it maligned a candidate I supported. Uhm, no. That particular candidate is a person I have despised for decades and I'm pretty much in agreement with what Mr. Turner stated. It was the actual stating of the statement during a concert I and thousands of others paid good money to attend that I disagreed with.