Earlier this year folk-punk troubadour Frank Turner released his sixth studio album, Positive Songs for Negative People. Recorded in Nashville with producer Butch Walker, the record is an attempt to capture the live sound of Frank and his band The Sleeping Souls while covering themes of longing, friendship, and resilience. The album is a logical step forward for the singer-songwriter, who recently announced an extensive Canadian tour to support of the LP, and early next year will perform as a part of Flogging Molly’s Salty Dog Cruise.
Frank has been a long time friend of the site. We’re fans of his music and have interviewed him on a handful of occasions at various points of his career. As such he seemed like the ideal candidate to kick off Scene Point Blank’s newest reoccurring feature. For the inaugural installment of The Greatest Story Ever Told, Frank Turner explains how a pre-show interaction with a transgendered fan is one of the most punk rock things he’s ever experienced.
“It’s important before we start that I be slightly sacrosanct about this, because I don’t have this person’s permission to explain the full details of their life. But it’s a story I’ve been telling on stage because I think what she did is badass and extremely brave.
We were loading into a venue in Perth, Australia. There were some fans that were waiting around to get some stuff signed. I’m always happy to chat and take pictures when I have time. I try and do it as much as I can, but when I went to autograph this person’s record I realized I had already signed it before. Which is kind of weird. Like why does anyone need an album signed twice?
When I asked what the deal was, she explained that she had been born and raised as a man. But she had since acknowledged that that wasn’t who she was. She knew that inside she was a woman. That’s how she self-identified and she had taken the leap forward to live that way publicly. The last time I had signed the record I had addressed it to her old name, and she was wondering if I could sign it to her new one.
With all due respect to the people in Perth, from the little I know about Perth as a city, that’s kind of a bold place to do that. I guess it’s a bold thing to do anywhere but…it was a really cool and really emotionally heavy situation. She explained how my music had meant a lot to her and I explained how what she was doing was brave as fuck.
I think one of the attractions about the story for me is that if I was to be so brash as to try and define what punk philosophically means is that it’s the ability to define yourself. For me punk is the idea that you don’t have to accept the identity and the life that’s presented to you. In a much less profound way that’s always been the thing for me. I was raised to be this middle class kid. I was supposed to be a lawyer or some shit like that. I decided that I couldn’t be fucked with that. I decided that I wanted to spend my life in vans, sleeping on floors, and playing gigs.
This person has obviously done something huge for herself and I think it’s something to learn from. Punk for me is the ability to put your foot down, draw a line in the sand, and say I’m going to be the person I’m going to be and I don’t give a fuck about what anyone else thinks of that choice. And what better example, right?”