Thursday, 4 June 2015

Wonderwall

Band: Oasis
Album: (What’s The Story) Morning Glory?
Year: 1995
Label: Creation
Status: Disbanded 2009
Back to Oasis, and the press: though note that some stories were contrived, such as the stupid media-created “Britpop chart battle” between Blur and Oasis in the summer of 1995. Two bands released singles on the same day (Oasis’ single was another track from Morning Glory). Who cared which sold more apart from the bean counters? That was the year the Inspiral Carpets broke up, which got hardly any coverage.

So what about this song, recorded in Wales, which achieved platinum status in the UK, and Gold in the US, topping the charts in a number of countries? The video reinforces those band messages. Firstly, we see the band’s name rotating on scratchy vinyl. The video is black-and-white (the only colour is the guitars – you can’t suppress the music). So we’re talking about connections to the musical past. Then we see that the video is full of circles: dartboards, the sound hole in an acoustic guitar, a hand-mirror. You see, what goes around comes around and we reconnect with where we come from. We rotate around a central force. Could that be the wonderwall? Noel said the it was “an imaginary friend who’s gonna come and save you from yourself”. So we’re empowered. Go after your dream, best friend, love. It will save you.
The band’s usual attitude is on display. Liam lounging in a chair, reticent, eyes hidden behind round shades, capable of gripping the intro with just the backing of a few guitar chords, and resolutely doing things his own way (the chorus sung as the Mancunian “saves mi” instead of me). In fact, the whole band usually look surly or bored when they’re not clowning around. Oh, there’s a floppy-footed clown in the video too, for example during the mid-song four-beat introspective silence. Maybe it appears because we connect them with our pasts. Maybe for no purpose. Or maybe just because we all sympathise with them. Anyway, the video did something right, since it won Best British Video at the Brit Awards in 1996.


Oasis, the adopted sound of Manchester. The ultimate proof is when they were used as the soundtrack to the most accurate portrayal of Manchester lives. No, not Coronation Street, but The Royle Family. The Gallaghers and band are princes behind the castle wonderwalls. Before we finish we’ll be learning more about the monkeys, kings, and Godlike geniuses that also live there.




Extract from page 294 of 2000 Tunes: A History of Manchester Music by M. H. Rees; used with permission. Read the whole series (25 extracts) here; or my summary post. Readers might be interested in my forthcoming novel about a man obsessed with Manchester music - confusingly, it is also called 2000 Tunes!
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