Thoughts On “The Way I Tend To Be”

Love is about all the changes you make and not just three small words
(“The Way I Tend To Be” ~ Frank Turner, 2013)

Day 3 of “Blog Every Day In November” (#BEDN) and I was already tempted to skip writing a post. I’ve been busy all day (and will be tomorrow as well) in a local Greens meeting about the council’s budget. I’ve also been caught out on having been inconsiderate about passing on necessary information. Which always makes me feel bad on so many levels. The fact that I have been inconsiderate. And even more so that I’ve been caught out. My mind’s a mess sometimes.

But back to post #3. When I was driving back home from the shops I had the idea to just pick the first Frank Turner song that would come on, if I put his artist playlist on my iPod on shuffle and write a bit about that song. If there’s one thing I can easily and extensively write (or talk) about it’s Frank and his songs. I’ve also written about all his albums on here already, so I would have an easy starting point by just pulling the various bits from the archive. The first song was “Don’t Worry”, so I cheated, because there is not too much I can say about that song. I like it okay, but that’s about it to be honest. Next up was “The Way I Tend To Be” in the original Tape Deck Heart (TDH) album version from 2013. I could get behind that as a topic. Especially as I have written about it twice on here, because there is a beautiful slow acoustic version on the Songbook compilation from 2017.

I’ve always liked the lyrics and the melody/sound, but at the same time always felt a slight disconnect between both. The music and especially the way we all swayed our raised arms from left to right at a gig felt happier than the lyrics. At least that’s how I put it in January, when I finally wrote my TDH review for the Thoughts on Songs category here. A few weeks prior to that I had been introduced to the slow acoustic version which has such a different, much more melancholic vibe to it, that the feel good (mandolin heavy) vibe of the album version felt a bit wrong. Here are both versions, so check them out yourself:

With a bit of distance now I think the song as such isn’t as sad and melancholic after all or it doesn’t have to be. It’s kind of weird how the perception of a song changes over time. Or from whatever point in my own life I look at it (hear it, sing it, whatever). Yes, he’s singing about heartbreak and muddling through and going through hell, but the memories on his mind are good and uplifting ones and they pull him through. So that’s a positive outlook after all. In possible contradiction of the four previous sentences in this paragraph, I think, I still prefer the slow, acoustic, a bit sadder Songbook version of the song. I can’t help it. I’m a sucker for the occasional sad, melancholic song. Frank is good in putting all of these emotions into his singing and to be honest I also love a nice piano part from Matt.

The slower version to me also highlights the beautiful songwriting. One of the many things I like about Frank’s songwriting from a linguistic point of view is his variety. There are songs which are sort of an epic like “Love, Ire & Song” and there are the ones like this one, which are more simple – structure, meter and rhyme wise – but therefore perfect in their even, rhythmical flow. Does that make sense? Anyway,the more I listen to his music and also hear him talk about his songwriting process, I think, the songs which feel kind of simple, might be the harder ones to write. Because you can’t just add a few more syllables to a line, if you don’t want to screw up the whole even meter you are going for. That by the way is the reason I was so in awe, when I heard that he rewrote the whole lyrics for “Brave Face” at the last minute. I consider those some of his best lyrics: meter, rhyme and imagery wise. But that’s stuff for another “Thoughts on Songs” post. Maybe.

Some more random thoughts on “The Way I Tend To Be”

  • According to my nerdy spreadsheet it’s been one of the two songs (“Recovery” being the other) I’ve heard the most in my 34 shows so far. 29 times! For any insider it’s obvious that I’ve come on board during the TDH touring cycle in 2013.
  • I’ve always loved hearing him tell the story behind a very specific line in the lyrics. Highlight of the Strasbourg gig last year was to hear him tell that in French. I don’t speak any French besides the few very easy words like “Bonjour”, “Merci”… But I recognized keywords like “l’eucalyptus” and of course “le koala”. And if you want to know what’s that all about you might need to come to a Frank Turner show and hope that he introduces that song with this story some day again :-)
  • I love that he has changed the lyrics he sings nowadays from “with each beautiful woman” to “with each beautiful person” whom he said “I love you” to. Because saying “I love you” doesn’t only happen in a romantic context. At least it shouldn’t

I’m still bummed, that I couldn’t use a Koala photo for this post. I was so sure I own one and I felt so witty with the idea to use that one instead of a picture of Frank.

Alright, you can hear him tell the Koala story here after all.

Here are more of my thoughts on Frank Turner songs

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