Try This At Home: Adventures in Songwriting: Frank Turner

In his new book Frank Turner takes 36 songs and explains how they were written. He also explains a lot about how they work. Each song has a separate chapter where Frank talks about the inspiration for the song, the words, the music and how the recording came together. 

I listened to the audio book version which is a great way to get close to the songs. One of my strongest impressions is the difference between the thoughtful intelligent analytical discussion of the songs and the wild passionate way he performs them. The contrast is dramatic and that is one of the main lessons from this book.

For a long time I used to say that Frank Turner was the most successful singer songwriter that most people have never heard of. In the last few years he has become more visible to a general audience but he has achieved this success by writing great songs and playing thousands of shows. Word of mouth seems to be his secret weapon.If you haven heard of him then check out this play list.

The first part of each chapter talks about the background of the song and the lyrics. Many of Frank’s songs are based on his experiences so there is an element of autobiography. He believes that he has the right to share what he likes about himself but says it is difficult when he is writing about relationships because they involve other people. How much should he share? Some of his songs are a combination of people pulled together under a common name, Amy is one of these.

He then goes on to discuss the music of the song, often this is in terms of chord patterns (I, IV, V or C,F G) but he also goes into more detail about how he moves away from these to make for interesting music. The song ‘Broken Piano’ was based on the sound of a faulty microwave oven that produced a sixth interval, singing other notes over the top of this drone made other harmonies.

The final part of each chapter covers the recording and performance of the song. How the band built up the arrangement and how the song changes as it was rehearsed. It’s interesting toi hear how much of the songs come alive in performance.

Best Bits: When you get stuck on a song just play what you have with confidence and see what happens when you get to the part that is missing, perhaps it will just come to you.  Don’t be afraid to redraft. Play a song as much as possible before you record it to rub off the rough edges. A great song is not just the words and the music; it is the way you present the finished piece. The arrangement is a major part of the song.

This is definitely worth five stars. Some great song writing ideas and an entertaining read.

Instagram Videos

I’ve recently started making short videos for songs fragments. Come and say “Hello” if you are on Instagram. @nickhaynesmusic

The First Five Years

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I’ve been writing songs for a long time but only started recording them properly around five years ago. I have now put together seventeen of my favourite demos in an album. This is a very strange selection so I don’t expect anyone to like all of them. I’ll be surprised if you don’t find something you like.

The most popular track on Spotify at the moment is Schauinsland.

This has also been played a lot.

The album is on all online platforms.

Bricks – A reverse video

I made this video to encourage people to use local venues before they disappear. Worth watching for the reverse camera stuff alone.

Music released by DK Records.

Available on Spotify  and  iTunes

I wrote and performed the music and it was mastered by Paul Kenward at Stewie B’s.

A big thank you to all the people who appeared in the video including Henry, Eric, AdamLeonC , Steve, Wes Lawson Bowie, Jack Tinmouth, and Andre.

Dig Beneath the Dust

Dig Beneath the Dust    5.45

Climbing on a train for a trip to the seaside

New trunks, no bucket and spade

Promised myself to learn to swim this summer

Confidence starting to fade

It’s hard to learn to swim, a mouthful of sea, making me choke

But when you throw away the armbands you feel stronger

Growing up with every stroke

Dig beneath the dust, beneath the dust, beneath the dust

The past is never dead. It’s only sleeping

Dig beneath the dust, then tuck it into bed


Walking up to Sunninghill on Saturday morning

For library books and lardy cake

Mother traded green shield stamps for roller skates

I learned the hard way how to brake

You learn to ride a bike by falling off so many times

But it’s worth it in the end when you can do it

Without a friend holding on

Dig beneath the dust, beneath the dust, beneath the dust

The past is never dead. It’s only sleeping

Dig beneath the dust, then tuck it into bed


Every time you wake a memory, it changes

Picking over the details rearranges everything


Walking up to school each day, a different adventure

Scuffing my new shoes on the way

Creeping past the wolf hound snarling at the gate

They said he only, wants to play

A rocket to the moon, on the TV, in black and while

I thought they must be cold up there

I watched the moon, every night.

Dig beneath the dust, beneath the dust, beneath the dust

The past is never dead It’s only sleeping

Dig beneath the dust, then tuck it into bed


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Primrose Hill

Couple eating cupcakes in the morning light
They only met last night but still he knows
This man is different
It’s springtime, on Primrose Hill
Looking over London, you can see the BT tower
Looking over London, the misty sky climbs away,
Climbs away, climbs away

Couple lying on the grass in the afternoon sun
Watching the city having fun, sharing wine
Sharing time
It’s Summer, on Primrose Hill

Couple watching fireworks on a cold dark night
He says Guy Fawkes was right, the city glows
Sulphur in the air
It’s autumn, on Primrose Hill
Couple walk their dog in the morning snow
London sparkles below, it seems like a year
Since they first met here
It’s winter, on Primrose Hill

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The smallest crowd sourced project in the world.

Buy Nick a Mug of Tea by 2033

At the end of September last year I got up in the middle of the night along with thousands of other people to see the red super moon. It was rather magical and I decided to make a date for the next one, it turns out that it is not due until 2033.
I then wrote a song about how the world might be in 2033 called “Jetpacks, Monorails and Rayguns”. In December I recorded it with James NTTB on Piano and it’s now on Spotify for your listening pleasure. Every time the track gets played I will get a tiny, tiny, tiny bit of money from Spotify. 250 plays will get me 1 US cent.
If the song gets 10 plays a day for the next 18 years ,about 65,000 plays, then I get to buy a mug of tea, which I shall of course share with James.
If you want to help with this project then just listen to the song and share it with a friend. If you want to be extra helpful then after listening to the song, click my name on Spotify and click “Follow”, I think that pushes the song up a list.
Thanks for your help and I will let you know if I ever get the Mug of tea.

Sometime ago I wrote about my EP and that if it gets 65,000 plays on Spotify I will be able to buy a cup of tea. I set a target of 2033, which is when the next red super moon is due.
Exciting news, I just got my statement from Spotify and all your plays so far have earned me 23 cents. That’s almost a quarter of a Dollar. !!!!
This is amazing news; I am well on the way to my target. Thank you so much.If you haven’t listened to it yet, or if you want to listen again then head over to spotify
If you want your own personal copy to hug and to hold forever then you can get one on itunes.
I promise not to spend the money until I have enough for a cup of tea, and I will share it with James.