Now it’s fair to say that Noel Gallagher and his brother Liam while being one of the foremost British rock ‘n’ roll icons of all time, have a habit of polarising audiences. Much of that is down to the band’s connection to the machismo side of the Madchester movement which would eventually turn into Britpop. Oasis were the brash and bruising side of the music scene during the nineties and, when coupled with the explosion of lad culture, were quickly branded as masculine neanderthals.
Liam Gallagher has never shied away from the image, embracing his position as king of the blokes. Noel Gallagher, however, has often tried to show his softer side where possible. Largely, that is through his music with his solo project Noel Gallagher and the High Flying Birds providing a more tender project. But within interviews Gallagher has also shared his sensitive side, especially during one conversation with BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs.
A longstanding institution in Britain aside from the production of excellent songwriters, such as Gallagher, is a very special Radio show by the name of Desert Island Discs. It’s a show that asks its guests to pick some of their favourite songs, a book and a luxury item to take with them to an inescapable desert island. It’s been running for nearly eighty years and has welcomed 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, he didn’t disappoint. True to form, Gallagher would pick eight equally different yet equally impressive figureheads of music. From the Sex Pistols to U2 and Pink Floyd to The Ronettes, Gallagher tips his hat to the best of pop music, rock music and anything else he can get his hands on. But one question always ends the show, if you could only save one song from your selections, which one would it be, and by proxy, asking the question: which song could you not live without?
Picking up The Ronettes’ ‘Be My Baby’ for the purest of reasons, selecting it as a tribute to his wife and love of his life, Sarah. “I met Sarah in a nightclub in Ibiza. You’re not supposed to meet your future wife in a nightclub in Ibiza,” recalled Gallagher earlier in the programme. “If I could think of one person I’d rather go out clubbing with, it’d be Sarah. One person I’d want to go on a boozy lunch with, it would be her. I don’t ever envisage life without her, she’s everything to me. 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. But when Gallagher tells the story of the song’s importance he shares the story of their first dance where a nervous Gallagher asked for his wife to go easy on him and his two left feet. In his words, his wife then turned into “Olivia Newton-John doing ‘You’re The One That I Want'” and although his eldest daughter did eventually save him by leading a charge to the dancefloor to join the happy couple, he ends the anecdote by joking “Sarah, I still haven’t forgiven you”.
At the end of their time together, host Kirsty Young poses the aforementioned ultimate question, to which Gallagher cleverly responds: “I’m gonna save ‘Be My Baby’ by The Ronettes because it would make me smile and clench my fist at the same time and think ‘I still haven’t forgiven her for that, although I do love her.'” It shows that, underneath all the Mancunian bravado, Gallagher is a big softie really.