Noel Gallagher is an artist that has always paid homage to the rock stars who paved the way before him. The singer and guitarist has continually littered his music, both solo and with brother Liam Gallagher in Britpop bastions Oasis, with references to acts such as The Beatles, The Who, Bob Dylan and so many more all becoming a rich part of the band’s lexicon.
With those endorsements, Gallagher has continued to assert himself as part of the same elite category, providing rock anthems that still ring out clearly 25 years after Oasis first broke on to the scene. With a back catalogue as jam-packed with his as any of their contemporaries, there’s a great chance that a generation will soon look to Gallagher the way he turned to the icons of British rock and roll that came before him.
There’s another longstanding institution in Britain – aside from the production of excellent songwriters – in the shape of a very special radio show by the name of Desert Island Discs. It’s a show that asks its guests to pick a selection of their favourite songs, a book and a luxury item to take on a journey to an inescapable desert island. It is a concept that has been running for nearly 80 years, welcoming everyone from rock stars and actors to world leaders and prime ministers.
In 2015, it was time for Noel Gallagher to answer the very difficult question: which songs could you not live without? Naturally, the Oasis founder didn’t disappoint. True to form, Gallagher would pick eight equally different yet uniformly impressive figureheads of music. From the Sex Pistols to U2 and Pink Floyd to The Ronettes, Gallagher tips his hat to the very best of pop music, rock legends, and anything else he can get his hands on. A first contender for that is from the “pop album” Nevermind The Bollocks, Gallagher’s first selection, Sex Pistols 1976 stunner ‘Pretty Vacant’. Gallagher described the band as “the rebirth of youth culture, which was dead”.
The next selection would be from a very special artist and a personal favourite of the ‘Wonderwall’ singer. While David Bowie is an idol of Gallagher’s, it would be his wife, Sarah, that would have the deciding vote on the chosen track. Gallagher tells the show: “The only reason that I’m not going to play the track ‘Heroes’ is because my wife—the lovely Sarah—said to me this morning, ‘You are going to play ‘Let’s Dance’ by David Bowie, aren’t you?’”. Detailing further, Gallagher continues: “Well, I was going to play ‘Heroes’. She said, ‘Play ‘Let’s Dance’, You make me listen to it three times a week. You’ve ruined the song for me. I now hate it because you play it so much. Don’t go on Desert Island Discs and not play it’”.
Next up is fellow Manchester act The Smiths, a band Gallagher declared the only band he would join now, and their anthem ‘Hand In Glove’. He says of the song: “I love this track because it was their first single and it’s got a colour to it. They’re so important to music in this country, particularly alternative music”.
The Manchester theme continues on his next choice, a deep cut from the Hacienda days during the birth of acid house. It was heady days for all involved and Gallagher, only a minute walk away from the venue, was definitively involved in the scene. “I remember going there one night and, of course, never having done ecstasy, thinking, ‘This is nonsense. What is this music? There’s no words,” he said. “It’s just a drum machine and I can’t hear anything else’. And then taking ecstasy and going back and thinking ‘This is the greatest thing I’ve ever heard in my life'”.
For anyone querying Noel’s next pick of U2’song ‘With or Without You’, he has a simple message: “I love U2. If you don’t get it, you don’t get it, and shame on you if not”. With that, we move on, as another pop song makes its way onto the list. This one, though, has a little more something to it. Picking up The Ronettes and their hit ‘Be My Baby’ for the purest of reasons, selecting it as a tribute to his wife and love of his life, Sarah. “I don’t ever envisage life without her, she’s everything to me,” he says. “This was the song for our first dance at our wedding”. It’s the kind of song that can make any day special, even the special day itself.
Now, we’re not going to say that Noel Gallagher loves The Beatles more than he loves his wife, but it’s got to be a close second, right? Gallagher has long paid tribute to one of the greatest bands to ever grace the earth with his music and has even shared the same song on occasion. Gallagher recognises the band’s contribution with his final selection, explaining: “I can’t really go through this without mentioning The Beatles. The first guitar that I ever bought when I actually had some money was an Epiphone, it’s what they used to play. They mean a great deal to me musically. They’re just the greatest thing in music that ever was.” Picking their song ‘Ticket To Ride’, Gallagher confirms himself as a genuine fan.
With it, Gallagher brings the curtain down on a brilliant collection of songs he simply could not live without. Below, we’ve pulled together a full playlist of the songs and we think it makes one hell of an album. You can listen to the full episode of ‘Desert Island Discs’ here and also find the episode on Spotify too, along with the plethora of other notable acts who have been interviewed for their eight favourite songs.
Noel Gallagher’s 8 favourite songs:
- ‘Pretty Vacant’ – Sex Pistols
- ‘Let’s Dance’ – David Bowie
- ‘Nobody Home’ – Pink Floyd
- ‘Hand In Glove’ – The Smiths
- ‘Voodoo Ray’ – A Guy Called Gerald
- ‘With Or Without You’ – U2
- ‘Be My Baby’ – The Ronettes
- ‘Ticket To Ride’ – The Beatles
Stream the playlist in full, below.