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Blog: Years And Years

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Today we're going to finish up the examination of SETLISTS by seeing which songs have lasted longest, and which have come and gone. I'm not going to complicate things (or at least not complicate them any further) by splitting it up into types of gig or anything like that, so the figures in the table below are for gigs overall, showing the first and last year calendar year that each song was played in, and then in how many individual calendar years it appeared.

Songs played by Calendar Years
SongFirst YearLast YearYears Played
Easily Impressed2005202319
Hey Hey 16K2005202319
Billy Jones Is Dead2005202318
It Only Works Because You're here2006202318
My Boss Was In An Indie Band Once2006202317
The Lesson Of The Smiths2005202317
The Peterborough All-Saints Wide Game Team (group B)2005202317
Boom Shake The Room2005202215
Being Happy Doesn't Make You Stupid2007202314
Clubbing In The Week2005202213
We Did It Anyway2011202313
Do The Indie Kid2007201912
I Come From The Fens2005201912
Payday Is The Best Day2005201912
The Perfect Love Song2005202312
Leave My Brother Alone2005201811
Mental Judo2005202011
I Did A Gig In New York2007202010
The Advent Calendar Of FACT2006201610
The Gay Train2005201410
To explain what's going on here, this shows that Easily Impressed, Hey Hey 16K and Billy Jones Is Dead were all first played in 2005 and last played in 2023, with the first two being played at least once in every single year between, while Billy Jones Is Dead missed out by NOT being played in one year (2020, when I was mostly doing very short internet gigs). OBVS that isn't quite the whole story, as I started playing all of those songs live long before that, but the setlists only go back to 2005 so that's where we're starting.

The chart is ranked by number of calendar years played in, which means that nothing first performed after 2014 has any chance of getting in, even if it was played EVERY year since then. Even with this knowledge we can still see a heavy bias towards songs first performed in 2007 or earlier - the only song first performed AFTER that is We Did It Anyway, which got into solo, Validators AND Steve sets and stuck there!

Most of these songs make it through to 2023, largely because GIG ONE THOUSAND was deliberately worked out to feature the songs I or we have played the most often. It's only towards the bottom of the list that we can see songs that started to fall out of favour over the years, notably The Gay Train. We used to do this one ALL the time, but about a decade ago I began to see that some of its POLITICS might not be sufficiently up to date - these days saying "straight OR gay" is a bit of a simplistic way of looking at things and rather than a) risk upsetting people who might think I was ERASING whole chunks of THE SEXUAL SPECTRUM or b) risk being seen as "endearingly politically incorrect" (or "a tosspot" as it is also known) or c) putting up SONG SCAFFOLDING and doing some sort of re-write, I thought I would d) give the setlist space to some of my other MEGA HITS instead. Few enough people come to my gigs as it is without annoying those who do!

Having said that, when I get around to embarking on my career performing 8-bit interpretations of classive love songs, THE SEXUAL SPECTRUM is the name I'll be using.

Meanwhile, right at the far end of the unexpurgated list there were a whopping ONE HUNDRED AND ONE songs that only ever got performed in a single calendar year, most of which were one-off covers or songs that I gave a couple of goes to before consigning them to the "Even More Obscure Than The Rest Of The Songs" cupboard.

The biggest gap between years was for Rock & Roll Mayhem, which I wrote on tour with Pete Green in 2004 and then did a few times in 2005 before retiring it completely until 2019, when I revived it for a new version whilst on tour with Matt Tiller.

There were 59 songs altogether that were played in at least five calendar years, and 58 that had ten or more years between their first and last play, which I think shows a determination to stick with songs once I or we have learnt them! To be honest I'm surprised that there's that many of them - I always feel as if I'm playing the same setlist and keep having DRIVES to Shake It Up A Bit and bring back some old songs. Maybe I AM doing that, but it turns out I keep on going back to the same SONG POOL to do so!

Whatever we look at, however, things are a bit skewed because I have been ROCKING for so long, which gives the older songs much more of a chance to get played at least once a year, especially for one such as I who is dedicated to the playing THE HITS whenever he can. THUS let's finish for today with a look at the same list but ONLY for songs that started being played in the last ten years.

Songs From The Last 10 Years
SongFirstLastYears Played
20 Things To Do Before You're 30201320229
(You Make Me Feel) Soft Rock201320238
Can We Be Friends?201420227
In The North Stand201420216
People Are All Right (if they are given half a chance)201720236
I Want To Find Out How It Ends201320175
Hibbett's Golden Rules Of Beer201420205
That Guy201420195
The 1980s How It Was201420174
Cheer Up Love201620194
Have A Drink With Us (Drink Doch Eine Met)201820224
Bad Back201920234
I Think I Did OK202020234
I'm So Much Cleverer Than You201320233
Burn It Down And Start Again201420173
Thank Goodness For Christmas201420213
It's Hard To Be Hopeful201920223


Altogether there were 67 songs that I'd started playing since 2013, with 29 only played within a single year. I'm not surprised to see 20 Things To Do Before You're 30 at the top of the list, as that's one I've played in ALL configurations as it is a BANGER, but I AM surprised to see (You Make Me Feel) Soft Rock just behind it - I love it very much as a song, but for some reason I always think "Oh I haven't done this one for AGES, I must bring it back into the set!"

It's interesting (NB usual terms and conditions affixed to the word "interesting" apply here) to see the songs that USED to be mainstays but then fell away. We used to play I Want To Find Out How It Ends in band gigs all the time, for instance, but I stopped wanting to play it because the twit who WROTE it forgot to leave any gaps between the verses and choruses for BREATHING! The 1980s How It Was was one of the songs from the SHOWS that ended up on Still Valid and so got played in Steve shows AND Vlads gigs, but then I stopped doing it in solo gigs because I kept getting confused about which order the verses went in. This happens to me A LOT - songs with a story tend to be MUCH easier to remember than LIST songs like this - 20 Things To Do Before You're 30 only overcame this problem because I had THE WORDS sellotaped to the top of my guitar for most of the past decade!

I'm also quite pleased to find that THREE (3) songs from The Unearthly Beauty Of MJ Hibbett have ALSO made it into this list. I've been thinking a bit about that album just recently, especially since I released the VIDEO for I Think I Did OK. Since releasing it I've seen the album as a JOB to do, with sorting out the USB sticks, doing the press, making the videos, booking gigs etc etc etc, and have pretty much FORGOTTEN that it's actually an ARTISTIC STATEMENT containing ACTUAL SONGS. I was thus taken by surprise recently when a few people said how much they identified with I Think I Did OK, reminding me that it was a SONG not just an item on a ticklist of Jobs To Do. I'm rather looking forward to getting out and doing some GIGS again later this year so I can be reminded of that some more!

Before that glorious day, however, we still have some more STATS to get through. Tomorrow I'm going to dig into the murky world of HIGH FINANCE and UNIT SHIFTING as we start looking at SALES FIGURES - see you then!

posted 15/2/2023 by MJ Hibbett

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