When the final word on rock and roll is written and the book is closed on the annal of music, there will be a chapter reserved especially for Noel Gallagher and Oasis. The singer-songwriter has written some of the most iconic rock tunes of the last 30 years, so as a way to celebrate the Mancunian’s birthday we thought we’d share 10 of his best songs.
Expect to hear some of the finest moments of Britpop and the maturing sound of a songsmith Britain can still be proud of to this day. As well as listing his top 10 track we’ve also pulled together a playlist to celebrate The Chief’s birthday in style.
We’ve selected songs from across Gallagher’s sprawling career, one which started one night in Glasgow after a young Alan McGee caught wind of a new Manchester band. That group, fronted by the larger than life, if not much else, Liam Gallagher, would go on to dominate the British music scene for years.
Borrowing heavily from the bloodlines of The Beatles, The Who and other notable rock legacy acts the band became a mainstay of the music scene and haven’t really been challenged for their crown since. When the band came to their predicted combustible end Noel pursued his own career away from Oasis.
As well as performing with some of the music scene’s best the singer would go on to form Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds and continue his dominance in the studio and on the festival circuit.
Below we’ve pulled from all of these sources to bring you a perfect playlist.
Noel Gallagher’s 10 best songs
10. ‘Everybody’s On The Run’
The release of this single from Gallagher’s 2011 album with his new band Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds came the following year as the song quickly drew appreciation from fans upon the LP’s release. The track saw Gallagher diving headfirst into a new sound, a move away from the steely British roots and heading to the sunshine coast, the video reflected it.
Gallagher had this to say about that video: “I played the part of a slightly hungover grumpy northern taxi driver which is just as well as that’s exactly what I felt like. I feel it’s some of my best work and most definitely worthy of at least one Bafta. That actress Mischa Barton was in it too. Nice girl. [Manchester] City fan would you believe!?!?”
9. ‘The Death of You and Me’
Quite possibly one of Noel Gallagher’s best post-Oasis riffs, the lead line for ‘The Death of You and Me’, taken from the 2011 self-titled album, is a delicate and warming stroll down a country lane.
An energised chorus provides a little kick in the step before a brass-toned middle-eight enlightens the song beyond recognition. It’s a real gem.
8. ‘The Importance of Being Idle’
One of the final truly brilliant moments of Oasis’ career came on the band’s penultimate album Don’t Believe The Truth’ and it remains the band’s lasting impression. It quite neatly summed up what made Gallagher a formidable songwriter.
Lyrically the track lacked some depth but musically it was a welcomed earworm that could please windowashers and bankers alike. The melody is pure Gallagher and the video just cemented the song’s lasting power.
7. ‘Half The World Away’
The track features on Oasis’ compilation album The Masterplan but was first shared as the b-side for the 1994 track ‘Whatever’. The track, like ‘Rock ‘N’ Roll Star’, is about the stagnation of modern life and the longing to leave it all behind. Directly inspired by Burt Bacharach’s ‘This Guy’s In Love With You’ so much so Gallagher once said: “It sounds exactly the same. I’m surprised he hasn’t sued me yet!”
An acoustic number was rare for Oasis at the time and away from their stadium-sized sounds, Gallagher’s vocals are given more room to breathe life into the track. It marked out Noel as an important songwriter from the very off.
When you caught wind of this new rock band from Manchester chances are you heard ‘Supersonic’ first. The band’s debut would put them on radios across the land and their performance on The Word would confirm their soon-to-be legend status.
Arguably one of the band’s most iconic songs isn’t further up the list for its somewhat simple lyrics but the power of Gallagher’s guitar is there for all to behold. Yet, some people did love the pub rock charm of the words Noel penned, especially his brother Liam.
The angrier half of the Brothers Gallagher has been noted as saying his favourite lyrics are “I’m feeling Supersonic, give me Gin & Tonic”. It’s hard not to get swept up in the Mancunian swagger and soon enough, after listening to the song, you’ll be throwing pints in no time.
5. ‘Some Might Say’
From the first moments of Noel Gallagher’s buzzsaw riff, there’s a hint to the inspiration behind the track. When his brother Liam enters with his fabled tambourine the inspiration is plain as day, Oasis were going a bit glam. Largely thought to have been inspired by The Small Faces and T.Rex, the track is on the shinier side of classic rock tones. Yet with Noel’s splashy guitar and Liam’s undeniable magnetism, it felt new and engaging.
It was a song that Noel took extra care in creating. One of only three songs to be demoed for (What’s The Story) Morning Glory (alongside ‘She’s Electric’ and ‘Hey Now’) Noel took on all the instrumental duties during the initial recording. Naturally, perhaps because of this, Noel has always said he preferred the original demo, saying it was “sleazier and dirtier” and the album version was “more Britpop.”
Above all else, the song reeks of Oasis’ heyday, when they were the new kids on the block, except they were on the corner of the block tripping kids up as the walked past. In a 2003 interview, Noel would later say the track was the “archetypical Oasis song” and that it “defines what Oasis is.” More importantly, perhaps, it defines what Oasis would become. They were no longer on the path towards becoming a big band they were now on the journey to becoming icons.
4. ‘Cast No Shadow’
One of Gallagher’s most underrated songs, the much overlooked ‘Cast No Shadow’ was named as such by Noel Gallagher during a recent Reddit AMA. The song was dedicated ‘To the genius of Richard Ashcroft’ and once led the Verve frontman to joke with him: “‘Am I a vampire? What are you trying to say man?'”
Following the band’s first number one single in ‘Some Might Say’ was always a tough act to follow but the philosophical spin Gallagher gave the tune has made it stand out as one of his finest.
3. ‘Live Forever’
The song was released as the third single from their debut album Definitely Maybe back in ’94 just prior to that album’s release and remains a fan favourite until this day. Though it was released in 1994, the song’s beginning actually started with Noel Gallagher back in 1991, before he joined the band.
He wrote the song after injuring himself while working on a building site. Injured, he was sent to take a less strenuous job in the storeroom and thus found more time to write. Allegedly inspired by the Rolling Stones’ ‘Shine a Light’, ‘Live Forever’ features a fairly basic song structure. Noel said: “It was the bit from ‘Shine a Light’ that goes [sings], “May the good Lord shine a light on you”,
Where the band stood out was the lyrics, which against the grain of grunge, were actually designed to be uplifting and positive. the time. It was the first Oasis single to enter the top ten in the United Kingdom and garnered critical acclaim. While ‘Supersonic’ and ‘Shaker Maker’ were the first singles from the Manchester band it was ‘Live Forever’ that set them on their way to stardom.
Noel Gallagher commented on the praise given to the song: “People said to me after ‘Live Forever’, ‘Where are you gonna go after that?’ And I was like, I don’t think it’s that good. I think it’s a fucking good song, but I think I can do better.”
2. ‘Champagne Supernova’
In 1995, Oasis were at the height of their career, their second album (What’s The Story) Morning Glory was to be released and make them the biggest band in the UK. One track would typify their stratospheric ascent, ‘Champagne Supernova.’
In the 1990s wherever Oasis went carnage ensued and whenever they performed they created a supercharged atmosphere that bounced off the walls. They were, for all intents and purposes; untouchable. They always looked like they were ready to take over the world.
The release of their second album What’s The Story (Morning Glory) on October 2nd, 1995, was one of the most highly anticipated releases of the year. The band showed critics and fans alike that they weren’t just one-hit wonders but truly was the real deal. The album consists of now well-established classics like ‘Wonderwall,’ ‘Don’t Look Back in Anger’ and ‘Roll With It’.
The album’s closer is a gigantic seven-minute anthem. The finisher to end this massive record? ‘Champagne Supernova’. From the minimalist start that gets heavier and heavier as the tune progresses to the sumptuous lyrics. It truly is the ultimate finisher for an album of that calibre.
1. ‘Don’t Look Back in Anger’
Oasis’ ‘Don’t Look Back In Anger’ has transcended the band’s back catalogue and become that holiest of things, a National Anthem. Chances are, if you’re to visit any local pub in Britain, you would get more people reciting Noel Gallagher’s magnus opus than the Queen’s tribute.
Sung across parks, at festivals, in the football terraces and basically anywhere beer is sold, there is no song more ubiquitous with Gallagher and his contribution to music than this track. The song was written by Noel and released in early 1996 as a single from their second album What’s The Story (Morning Glory). It was also the band’s second UK number one and the first Oasis single to feature Noel on vocals, having previously only taken over singing duties on B-sides.
Noel once said of the song: “It reminds me of a cross between ‘All the Young Dudes’ and ‘Something’ might have done.” Speaking of the character ‘Sally’ referred to in the song he insisted: “I don’t actually know anybody called Sally. It’s just a word that fit, y’know, might as well throw a girl’s name in there.”
Noel continues: “At the soundcheck, I was strumming away on the acoustic guitar, and our kid (Liam) said, ‘What’s that you’re singin’?’ I wasn’t singing anyway, I was just making it up. And our kid said, ‘Are you singing ‘So Sally can wait’?’ And I was like—that’s genius! So I started singing, ‘So Sally can wait.’ I remember going back to the dressing room and writing it out. It all came really quickly after that.”
It’s a song that was a mainstay of the band’s live outings from its release until they parted ways in 2009. But while some songs could’ve died after that, this track has found its way on to both Noel and Liam’s setlists as solo artists, highlighting the songs true power. Following the terrorist attacks on Manchester in 2017, the song became an anthem for those affected.
The track hinges on the powerful chorus, a run of lines which despite not being the most logical, provide both the musos and football fans of the world with something to belt out with all their hearts. Best heard as below, sung by thousands of fans.