In this regular feature we ask the Everything Indie Over 40 social media community to help us compile a top ten list of a chosen topic. Our resident curator John Hartley (@JohnyNocash) then ponders, disects and finally presents.
In this edition:-
The Indie Top Ten Songs For The Festive Season
The lot of a music journalist is not an easy one (as most will all too willingly tell you in their memoirs), so imagine how bad it is for me pretending to be one. Everything that should be so easy becomes all so complicated. Our esteemed Editor issues a simple instruction from EIO40HQ: ‘furnish us with your top festive songs’, or words to that effect. And yet not a single one of the readership is able to come up with a song suitable for the annual celebration of the Winter Solstice that is the twelve day festival of Yule. Not a single one. So, I’m afraid ‘yule’ just have to make do with a whole load of Christmas songs instead.
1. The Fall -“Xmas With Simon”
In the real world, Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without millions of folk across the United Kingdom digging deep into their pockets and helping the poor and needy. By purchasing the X Factor’s winning song in their droves, poor Simon Cowell is able to feast on the milk of human kindness. It might be the only decent meal he gets, you know. Mark E Smith has quite possibly spent more than one festive season at the Cowell household; why else would The Fall be driven to write ‘Xmas With Simon’, as nominated by @daznixon1989 and @knoxy15?
I can almost picture the scene: Smith and Cowell sat at the table, Louis Walsh – his nose pressed firmly against the artificially frosted window – gazing longingly at the turkey rump and trimmings. Mistletoe dangles from the candelabra, tinsel decorates that signed photo of Sinitta from 1988 and… wait: what is that tucked away on the mantelpiece? Oh, it’s ‘A Christmas Card From A Hooker In Minneapolis’ sent via Tom Waits. Well spotted @caroline_binnie.
Is Tom Waits indie? Does it matter? It is Christmas after all; the season of cheer and goodwill to all men and women. That means no arguments. Not even when Simon Cowell turns down the chance to sign up The Fall to his money-making empire. Just when it looks like old Smithy (or should that be Smith E? I don’t know the exact protocol here) is about to slay his host with a plethora of flat vowels, a sudden realisation hits. His mood changes: ‘Merry Christmas (I Don’t Want To Fight Tonight)’, he says. Cowell raises his eyebrow. ‘Sounds like a Ramones song to me’, he says. ‘I’ll stick that in the next series’ Punk Week and thereby guarantee viewing from at least @todclaret and @Miss_D_xx.’
But hang on a minute… punk? Is that indie too? Of course it is; as anyone who watched the excellent BBC4 documentary (and that’s why we pay the licence fee folks, remember!) on the story of indie, we wouldn’t have what we commonly term ‘indie’ without the staunch independence of the punk movement. It’s just horses for courses, genres for whatever-rhymes-with-genres. We want a Christmas without any of the usual round-the-table family bickering this year. Let’s get on with unwrapping the presents. Here’s a gift from @GLPNE73: it’s ‘The Christmas Song’ by The Polyphonic Spree.
Just as Mark and Simon look as though they are about to start squabbling over who gets the first listen to the song, fate intervenes and Cowell notices a small, thin square-shaped gift leaning humbly against the base of the Christmas Tree. Being from @BullAntics and @thirtysixholes it is clearly musical, and so the host offers an olive branch to his guest. ‘Go on,’ he says, ‘open it.’ Of course, Smith’s face is a picture when he realises its ‘No Christmas’ with a gruff voice singing songs of heartbreak. And we don’t mean Chris Rea…
‘This is great’, says old Mark E-boy. ‘It reminds me of when music used to be good, instead of all that commercial Christmas guff-uh’. Simon Cowell looks sheepishly at his paunch, now fairly bursting through his white satin roll neck top. Smith is getting well into this song. ‘I’m getting well into this-uh’ he tells Cowell. ‘If I had my way, this would be a Christmas number one’. Cowell responds; ‘Unfortunately for you, it would appear that only I get my way at Christmas. Unless some fiend organises a Rage Against The Machine campaign. And anyway,’ he says pointing at the YouTube video he has now found on his smartphone, ‘This is ‘A Christmas No. 1’. It’s by Bitter Springs, and was nominated by @Clive_Stringer.’
The festivities pause for a few minutes whilst Simon Cowell watches the Queen’s Speech and Mark E Smith fires another member of his band. However all is not lost; in the nick of time Smith spots the perfect replacement almost straight away. Standing tall at six feet, barely moving and certainly not answering back, Mark offers the post of bass guitarist without hesitation. Unfortunately, the candidate doesn’t leap at the opportunity. In fact the candidate doesn’t do anything. ‘Mark,’ offers Simon after an uncomfortably long silence, ‘That’s the ‘Christmas Tree’ I was given by The Cannanes’. Oh dear. I don’t know what Ma Smith would make of this scenario, let alone @MaScrievin.
‘Bloody hell you’re right!’ exclaims E Smith without pausing for punctuation. ‘It must be great being so popular. Have you been given anything else?’ Cowell scans the vast living room for gifts he has decided not to save for a rainy day. Should he mention the Girls Aloud reunion tour programme Cheryl has given him? Would Mark be jealous? It is signed, after all. ‘No, not really’ says our Simon humbly. ‘Just a platinum disc from the BPI for Ben Haenow’s single last year’. ‘Oh FFS (that’s text speak, Simon)’ says The Fall frontman. ‘According to The Research, ‘For Christmas I Got Pityriasis Rosea’ from @tfdefence, and that’s it.’
9. Fountains Of Wayne – “I Want An Alien For Christmas”
Surprisingly, Mr. Cowell has sympathy for his guest. It would appear that even the rich and famous don’t always get what they want for Christmas. ‘It’s true,’ says Simon, wiping a tear from his eye. ‘In fact, 2014 was the first time in eight years that one of my acts won the X Factor. And that was Leona Lewis’. Whisky in hand, Mark drapes a consoling arm over the multimillionaire’s shoulder. ‘It’s ok. I don’t think Father Christmas even reads my letters. ‘I Want An Alien For Christmas’, but the closest I ever get is a song by Fountains of Wayne thanks to @KevSkibbers.’
Our two stalwarts of the music industry slump onto the sofa (by the way, that’s the plush red leather one opposite the real wood-burning fireplace, not the Winchester at right angles to it. Or the velvet-covered four-seater in front of the aquarium.) ‘Just look at us,’ sighs Mr. Cowell. ‘I’d rather not’, slurs Mr. Smith. ‘Can we just watch some telly? Are Little and Large on?’ ‘No,’ says our Simon, ‘but Top Of The Pops is.’ Our Mark exhales contentedly. ‘Oh good,’ he says. ‘Do you know, Simon; life isn’t too bad after all. If only @durutti74 and @Chops_Top_Fives were here, then it’d be ‘Just Like Christmas’.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
After spending the best part of twenty five years trying to write the perfect pop song John Hartley has turned his attention to writing about those who have done a much better job at it. He tweets as @JohnyNocash and gives away his music, generally for free. He is currently raising money to support men’s mental health charity CALM (@theCALMzone) at http://brokendownrecords.bandcamp.com/album/the-broken-heed
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