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“Don’t Look Back In Anger” was the first single in which Noel handled lead vocals. In actuality, he was to sign both “Don’t Look Back In Anger” and “Wonderwall”, but Liam demanded singing one of the two projected singles. He picked “Wonderwall” maybe as a way of irking Noel. It would have made better sense if the elder Gallagher had sung that one. After all, it was written about Meg. And the song is seldom sung by Liam live – he only is behind the mic when the song is not done acoustically, as on the “Familiar To Millions” live album.
The introduction to “Imagine” heralds a true carpe diem anthem, and Noel “borrowed” more than that piano part from John Lennon. The phrase “So I’ll start a revolution from my bed/Cos’ you said the brains I had went to my head” comes from an interview with the late Beatle. The song is overwhelmingly beautiful, and Noel employs a device he otherwise abuses in the best way here: changing the grammatical person during bridges and choruses in order to make the song go from individual to plural, from “my” song to “our” song.
The rest of the album includes the insanely popular “Champagne Supernova”, with one of the better-known drug references of their whole career (“When were you while we were getting high?”). The other is found on “Morning Glory” (“All your dreams are made/When you are chained to the mirror and the razor blade”), a number that treads Led Zeppelin’s territory in terms of heaviness. Coming back to “Champagne Supernova”, the song was so popular that a video had to be shot for it notwithstanding the fact it was never pressed as a single. Noel said the impact of the song even before the album was out was such that there were about a dozen fan clubs named after it. I think that just highlighted how popular the band was back then.
For its part, “She’s Electric” is the humorous interlude of the disc, and it has always been one of my favorite songs of theirs – it sounds like a cowboy tune in more places than one, and it ends exactly like the Beatles’ “With A Little Help From My Friends”. Noel also stole the “Cos’ I’ll be you and you’ll be me/There’s lots and lots for us to do/There’s lots and lots for us to see” segment from a TV show he loved watching as a child.
More borrowed bits surface on “Hello”, a loud number that lifts the riff from Gary Glitter’s song “Hello I’m Back Again”. But that is acknowledged on the album credits.
You already know I am very keen on the song “Cast No Shadow”. Noel wrote it as a way of paying tribute to Richard Ashcroft, the frontman of The Verve. He also exerted himself and set a new personal standard, mainly after having listened to the contemporary albums by Paul Weller. Songs like “The Changingman” and “Porcelain Gods” struck him heavily, and he resolved to do better.
And he did. When Noel went forwards, the band advanced as well. And if you look at the list of songs that were written during this period and that were issued as b-sides, it dawns on you that his evolution as a songwriter is almost unparalleled. A case can be made that Oasis sapped his stamina away. They would take a long break after the next album, 1997’s “Be Here Now”. But until that day, they were the biggest inspiration for listeners both young and old all across the world. And while the seeds for such a triumph were planted on “Definitely Maybe”, the blossoming moment of the Mancunian band came in the “(What’s The Story) Morning Glory?” days. Their eventual decline is even made somehow redundant by that. After all, how man can reach that high and invite everybody else for the ride? “When were you while we were getting high?”. Right beside you, guys. You were our band. It was a terrific time. But everybody (and everything) eventually comes down.