From David Bowie to The Smiths: Noel Gallagher picks eight songs he couldn’t live without
Noel Gallagher is an artist who 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 like The Beatles, The Who, Bob Dylan and so many more.
With those references, Gallagher has continued to assert himself as part of the same elite category. With a back-catalogue as thick as any, there’s a great chance that a generation will soon look to Gallagher the way he looked to those icons of British rock and roll. If they do, here would be a great place to start.
There’s another longstanding institution in Britain aside from the production of excellent songwriters, a very special Radio show called 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 seventy years and has welcomed everyone from rock stars and actors to world leaders.
In 2015, it was time for Noel Gallagher to answer the very difficult question, which songs could you not live without?
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. 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. David Bowie is an idol of Gallagher’s and of course, he would, of course, pick a song from The Starman for his imaginary jukebox. But with a number of favourite songsand having already covered ‘Heroes’ with Oasis which one would make the cut?
Turns out his wife Sarah would have the deciding vote. He 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?’” 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’.” That, ladies and gentlemen, is the sound of a happy marriage.
“I know every single word. I can sing it in sequence at the drop of a hat,” says Gallagher when describing Pink Floyd’s ‘Nobody Home’. Next up is fellow Manchester act The Smiths, a band Gallagher declaredthe only band he would join now, and their anthem ‘Hand In Glove’. He says of the song, “I love this track because it was there 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, on a minute walk away from the venue, was clearly ‘involved’. “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. 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’s ‘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.” Shamefully, we move on, as another pop song makes its way on to the list. This one though, has a little more something to it.
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 don’t ever envisage life without her, she’s everything to me. This was the song for our first dance at our wedding.”
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? The singer and guitarist, 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, “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.”
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.