The Oasis documentary Supersonic is coming out later this month, and if you’re remotely a fan, or even someone who just appreciates the Gallagher brothers as the premier comedy duo of our times, you’ll want to check it out.
As you might expect, as a fan, watching the trailer sent me off on an Oasis binge, and got me thinking about reassessing my list of the best Oasis songs ever, which I compiled a while back. Whatever I said earlier was wrong, because here’s the actual list. This is binding and non-negotiable. Do not @ me.
1) Slide Away
Here’s the rare song where I think it might actually be better done by Liam, but it’s so beautiful and sad it’s well suited to Noel’s more reflective voice.
Was going to make this a list of Noel versions only, but then I realized, come on, this one belongs to Liam. Needs the attitude and the snarl.The chord turn leaning into “My friend said she’d take you home…” that’s as good as it gets.
Of course the best are when they both take lead. Wait wait, this might be the #1 — song ever that is. This is hard. This one is so special because it’s the closest thing to a love song between two brothers they ever did. They do need each other. Or is it about the band and their relationship with the fans? Maybe it’s a coded message they wrote just for me!
4) Morning Glory
If this song doesn’t still give you shivers then you have no soul. “When you’re chained to the mirror and the razor blade.” Never understood what that meant as a kid. Figured it out soon enough. They were right about that part.
5) Rockin Chair
Oasis were always paranoid about getting old from the start, as heard on songs like this one, Stay Young or Live Forever. That always resonated with me, even when I was a little snot-nosed shit watching them play at the Strand in Providence in like 1994. Someone threw a shoe at Liam that night and he walked off the stage. I thought that was pretty awesome.
6) Stay Young
Anyway, now I’m actually old, which means those dudes are double old as fuck, so songs like this one take on an added layer of melancholy now.
7) If I Had a Gun
Doesn’t matter that this is roughly the 47th time Noel has reused these same Wonderwall chords, this is one of the most unabashedly romantic and heart-tugging songs he’s ever done. “Excuse me if I spoke to soon, my eyes have always followed you around the room, cause you’re the only god that I will ever need. I’m holding on and waiting for the moment to find me.” <3! :(!
8) Listen Up
Another sad one that splits the difference between sprawling guitar excess and introspection. That’s when they were at their best, constructing big walls of feedback and towering sound, but breaking through it with humanity. The fact that Liam, probably the furthest thing from a regular dude in the world at this point, was able to embody it so perfectly is the genius here. “It wouldn’t be so bad if I had more time,” he sings. “Sailing down the river alone, I been trying to find my way back home. But I don’t believe in magic, life is automatic, but I don’t mind, being on my own.” Doesn’t matter if it actually makes sense or not, because it just does.
9) D’You Know What I Mean?
Was on the fence about whether or not to include a Noel acoustic version of this one or the original. Both are brilliant, but this video was, at the time, literally the coolest thing I had ever seen in my dumb young life. It doesn’t get any sharper than Liam in this one. And you still get the gorgeous back up harmonies from Noel here, some of his best.
10) Don’t Look Back In Anger
I will never understand how a band could’ve been this massive in literally every other country in the world except for this one. The crowd singing along here? Floors me. When I saw Noel play this one earlier this year in Boston I thought, meh, I’ve heard this one a million times, I’m not going to get that excited, but as soon as it got to the lead up to the first chorus my heart was in my throat and I was singing along like a drunk Argentinian chick waving a flag and her tits in the air.
11) Angel Child
A supremely underated b-side from the D’you Know What I Mean single, (which also had the Heroes cover, which actually improved on Bowie, not easy to do), and Stay Young. An amazing single all around. Pound for pound the best 4 song release of the late nineties. Noel brings the pain on this one. “No eyes that’ve seen such beauty could lose their sight. And there’ll be no lies, no lies that you could tell me to make things right.”
12 Talk Tonight
Written after Noel left the band after their first US tour, and hid out in San Francisco with a girl he had a crush on. Whatever she did, thanks for getting him to go back.
13) The Importance of Being Idle
The standard line is that the band lost it in the later years, and while there’s some truth to that in that every single song on any given album stopped being the best song on any other album released that year, there have still be gems sneaking into the canon on every release, like this one from The Importance of Being Idyl, their last #1 before their break up.
14) Little By Little
Guess I’m really showing a Noel bias on this list as it turns out. This one isn’t regularly recognized as one of their best, and it’s certainly simplistic, but if you’re not here for big, dumb, sweeping choruses then I don’t know what you’re after.
15) Cast No Shadow
I’m an idiot for not putting this one higher. Actually everything off Definitely Maybe and Morning Glory is tied for #1, sorry for wasting everyone’s time. One of their best harmonies. Just melancholy and beautiful and perfect, and the fact that it’s about Richard Ashcroft makes it all the more poignant.
16) My Sister Lover
A b-side off the “Stand By Me” single, this one is choppy and chaotic and noisy, but still manages to pack three hooks in, with the calamitous pre-chorus being the best of the bunch.
A fan favorite b-side, it’s lost a bit for me over the years, but will always hold a special place remembering times I saw Noel end it with bits of either “All the Young Dudes” or “Octopus’s Garden” when he did it live.