The traditionally hard album for every band was to be even harder for Oasis, who had to live up to the dazzling standards they previously set on “Definitely Maybe” and “(What’s The Story) Morning Glory?”. This time around, though, the band was too far gone into drugs and fast living, and they were to try everybody’s patience. The lack of temperance was what broke the album’s back, as a vast majority of compositions clock at over 7 or 8 minutes.
That running time is merited only once, on the opening “D’You Know What I mean?”. It was the album’s first single and Oasis’ third chart topper. Noel seriously let rip in the solo, and the accompanying video was phenomenal.
The other number one yielded by “Be Here Now” was “All Around The World”. That was a song which had been around for a long, long time. The date of composition can be set after the “Definitely Maybe” album, probably around the days of “Whatever” (one of their finest non-albums singles, savagely left off “The Masterplan”). Noel refused to record it until they could afford to do it as elegantly as he had envisioned. Too bad he had to stretch it over 11 minutes. Not even the three key changes can make it more appealing in the end, and the “Hey Jude” comparison is too obvious, too gratuitous and too true to be avoided.
Another song that references The Beatles is “It’s Getting Better (Man!!)” both in its title and in the line “bring it all home and it won’t be long”. It is another nice melody and genuine sentiment defiled by the long running time. I counted thirty three “It’s getting better, man!” during the fade. It is a shame, because I feel it is one of the most sincere songs Noel wrote about bonding through life experiences after having first bonded through music.
“Magic Pie” is yet another lengthy number that could have worked much better if Noel (who took the lead) had been more constrained. He pinched some lines of a speech from Tony Blair and used that as part of the lyrics (“There is but a thousand days/preparing for a thousand years”), and that is about the best bit from the whole song.
Elsewhere, “The Girl In The Dirty Shirt” was about girlfriend Meg, and “Fade In Out” had a slide part that was supplied by Johnny Depp and the immortal line “you gotta be bad enough to wanna be”, clearly aimed at their main chart rivals of the day.
All the song that have somehow shorter running times, now, do bring the excitement to a quasi Morning Glory or Definitely Maybe level. “My Big Mouth” and “I Hope, I Think, I Know” certainly qualify, with Noel making fun of his inability to control his verbal tirades (something which resulted in the far too-publicized altercation with Blur among other incidents), and then reminding us that he pinches everything from everybody and proudly so.
And when the band does keep things focused and really to-the-point they come with “Stand By Me” and “Don’t Go Away” respectively. Both songs have proven to be the longest standing compositions from the disc. “Stand By Me” is even played on the “Familiar To Millions” set, and Noel is bound to “Don’t Go Away” for evermore oh his solo sets. The song was penned when he thought mother Peggy had cancer, and the lines “Me and you what’s going on/all we seem to know is how to show the feelings that are wrong” were written straight after a row. These two songs just make it all too clear the kind of album that the band could have had the third time around had they only been more measured.
But that is all in hindsight. In 1997 they still had the Midas touch, and Noel said as much. “Everything we touch still turns into gold, but one day it will all turn into dog shite”. Later on, he was to admit “Be Here Now” was the druggiest record of their career.
And I frankly don’t think anybody would dispute that.