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The Indie Top Ten Songs For The Festive Season

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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?


 2. Tom Waits – A Christmas Card From A Hooker In Minneapolis

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.


 3. The Ramones – “Merry Christmas (I Don’t Want To Fight Tonight)

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.’


 4. The Polyphonic Spree – “The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire)

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.


 5. The Wedding Present – “No Christmas”

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…


 6. The Bitter Springs – “A Christmas No 1”

‘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.’


 7. The Cannanes – “Christmas Tree”

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.


 8. The Research – “For Christmas I Got Pityriasis Rosea”

‘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.’


 10. Low – “Just Like Christmas”

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’.


And it was.

John Hartley

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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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Listen out on Twitter for further Indie Top Ten themes. We need your help.

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Meet The Community – Sandy Wishart

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Here we divert our attention away from the artists and bands and shine a light on some of those individuals whose contributions in our social media world have been an invaluable source of musical joy. By asking a series of 10 questions we want to get inside the mind of a selected community member and understand their indie DNA.

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In this edition – Sandy Wishart (@_sandywishart)

Sandy Wishart

We’d always considered Sandy somewhat aloof which is why he was in our Meet The Community cross hairs. We’ve been staring at the back of that T Shirt for over a year now and in the early days that Twitter profile pic was pretty much all we had to go on. The man didn’t even have a banner photo let alone any sort of bio (still doesn’t).

We suspected he was Scottish on the basis we’ve never come across anyone called Sandy who isn’t Scottish (apart from Olivia Newton-John). In addition, the reference to avalanche on the tee could refer to the infamous Edinburgh record shop. Careful scrutinisation of the pic also reveals what looks like a Biff Bang Pow! poster on the wall, so there was no doubting his indie pedigree.

However, we have been delighted to witness Sandy gradually coming out of his shell and becoming a valued member of the community. His Twitter feed still doesn’t reveal much about the man, but we have learnt that he is the proud father of at least two daughters and sadly no longer the owner he once was of an extensive music collection. We just hope that being a part of this community hasn’t aggravated the obvious sense of loss.

So without further ado, let’s meet Sandy Wishart

1) Where did you grow up?

Broxburn. Small town 12 miles west of Edinburgh.

2) What first got you into “indie” music?

Mostly down to my friend Mo. A group of us travelled together to college and Mo would supply the tape for the car. I did like some decent music prior to this but here was some proper indie.

3) What was the first “indie” record you bought?

Probably Bouncing Babies by Teardrop Explodes on Zoo. Early 88 I think, before I went full blown indie in 89. After I bought Doolittle there was no looking back.

4) What was your favourite record shop?

Avalanche Records in Edinburgh. They’re still going although they’ve moved a few times. I remember the first time I went, with Mo, who bought the new release by The Fall; I Am Kurious Oranj. Can’t remember what I bought but pretty soon I was going regularly as it was the best place to go for indie music. Still is.

5) What music magazines did you read?

NME, Melody Maker, Sounds, Select, Vox, Q. Didn’t buy them all every week or month. Depended on which bands were featured or who had the best free mixtape.

6) What was your first “indie” gig?

Mega City Four at the Calton Studios, Edinburgh in 89 with my best friend Colin @sauzee7273. Saw them 4 times; a fantastic live band and one of the first bands I got into after Pixies opened the indie floodgates

7) What was your most memorable “indie” gig? And why?

Went to a lot of great gigs. Trying to think of one that stands out. There was Reading 92 or the Swervedriver £1 gig with lots of Red Stripe & falling over but I’m going to go with Biffy Clyro at the SECC on their Opposites tour. This was my eldest daughter Emily’s first gig. Near the end she turned to me and said “thanks Dad, this is the best night of my life”. It doesn’t get much better than that.

8) What 3 “indie” albums would you take to a desert island?

Only 3; that’s harsh. Pixies – Doolittle, American Music Club – California, Husker Du – New Day Rising. Would probably pick Doolittle plus a different other 2 tomorrow.

9) What “indie” band/artist would you most like to meet?

Kim Deal would be cool.

10) What one song defines your indie-ness?

Sebadoh – Gimme Indie Rock. Just gimme indie rock and I’m a happy man.


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A huge thank you to Sandy Wishart for taking part. Hope you enjoyed this insight into his indie-ness.

You could be next.

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