Noel Gallagher is assuredly one of his generation’s most talented lyricists. He’ll be the first to admit that while he’s not the greatest guitarist in the world, or singer for that matter, it was his dynamic way with words that has made so many tribalistic when it comes to his work.
They connected with Gallagher’s lyrics because he walked and talked like them, making Oasis seem like they could be their friends. At lightning speed, the Mancunians went from playing the club circuit to selling 250,000 tickets at Knebworth at lightning speed. Gallagher was the jewel in the band’s crown, and without him, Liam wouldn’t have had anything to bellow out to the adoring masses.
Their debut, Definitely Maybe, single-handedly changed the musical landscape. Soon enough, you couldn’t walk down the high street without seeing Gallagher lookalikes, who imitated every aspect of the band, even to the way they walked.
They then delivered a stellar follow-up with (What’s The Story) Morning Glory. However, things slowly started to go downhill, with Oasis showing fewer and fewer magic moments before calling it a day in 2009, after an altercation in Paris — the straw that broke the camel’s back.
With unfathomable success behind him, the last decade has seen Gallagher make whatever music he wants to and revel in experimenting. His move away from the traditional Oasis sound has seen fans turn to his little brother, Liam, but this has only encouraged Noel to go further left-field with each record.
Here are the six definitive songs that chronicle the career of the mercurial Noel Gallagher to date!
Noel Gallagher’s six definitive songs:
‘Don’t Look Back In Anger’
‘Don’t Look Back In Anger’ was Noel Gallagher’s coming out party and saw him step out of his little brother’s shadow. Before this track, Noel had only ever sung lead vocals on B-sides, and following this single, there was a power shift in Oasis. Noel was no longer content to write songs and his brother to lap up all the glory.
Few choruses could unite people from all walks of life in how the track has succeeded in doing, and it’s one of Noel’s finest songwriting moments, which has slowly become an unofficial national anthem of Britain over the last quarter of a century.
‘The Masterplan’ didn’t even make it on a studio album and was a B-side, but it’s up there with anything else that Noel has ever penned. It showed a more tender side to Oasis, which Noel performed with his heart firmly placed on his sleeve.
Noel Gallagher recalled in 2020: “I remember writing ‘The Masterplan’ at home in Camden and then going to Maison Rouge [Studios] in Fulham the next day and playing it on an acoustic guitar to silence.
“I’d write ‘The Masterplan’, ‘Talk Tonight’ or ‘Half The World Away’ and nobody would say, ‘Do you want to hold that back?’ It’s only as the years have gone along that I’ve realised that was mental. But we were all mad in the ’90s – Alan McGee was off his tits and he was running the label.”
‘Little By Little’
When Oasis released Heathen Chemistry, Noel was no longer resigned to just bit-part backing vocals, and duties were shared more evenly, leaving Liam feeling like a spare tool. The album is far from Oasis’ best work, but ‘Little By Little’ provides a rare glistening moment.
Noel later claimed that his brother’s attempt wasn’t up to scratch, so he was left to lay down the vocals. “It’s a shame ‘cos that would have made it extra, extra special,” he recalled.
“When it came to him (recording the vocals) you could see he was going, ‘I’m not going to fucking get it.’ And we were all willing him to get it. I went in and did a version and you could see he was sat at the desk going, ‘Fucking bastard. He’s got it.’ But he doesn’t want to do anything that’s shit.”
‘The Importance Of Being Idle’
After a few years of treading water more often than not, many people questioned whether Oasis still had it in them to produce a hit single and then came ‘The Importance Of Being Idle’.
The track was the band’s last number-one single before they split in 2009, and even though, Don’t Believe The Truth fell short from the mark on the whole — ‘The Importance Of Being Idle’ was a reminder of Oasis’ majesty.
Commenting on the track, Noel said: “A cross between The Kinks and The La’s. About being a lazy so and so. I spent a lot of last summer just sitting around the house doing nothing, really impressed by my lack of drive.”
‘The Death of You and Me’
Following the split of Oasis, all eyes were on Noel Gallagher and what his next move would be. Liam had decided to stay with his Oasis bandmates and re-emerged as Beady Eye, while Noel stepped out on his own two feet with his emphatic debut single.
‘The Death of You and Me’ was met with jubilation and deemed superior to anything that Oasis churned out during their dying days.
Gallagher told MOJO: “People think it was a conscious decision to say; Right, I’m going to do something different. But this is what just came out. It’s my favourite song on the album because when the brass kicks in you’re in New Orleans.”
For 2017’s Who Built The Moon, Noel threw fans off-guard with the almost-entirely instrumental lead single, ‘Fort Knox’. The track is his most defiant way of sticking two fingers up at people clambering for an Oasis reunion yet and showed that he’s got no interest in looking backwards.
Speaking to Radio X, Gallagher said: “I’m not sure why but it felt right; it felt like a wake-up call to people who have been listening to my music for the past 25 years.”
Even though Gallagher is now in his fifties, he seems to be enjoying making music more than ever and is more than comfortable with it dividing opinion. ‘Fort Knox’ sounds like a completely different artist to the one who crafted Definitely Maybe, and Gallagher’s now refusing to sit still.