Oasis were always a band to brandish their musical influences. Of course, the most obvious example is Liam Gallagher’s attempts to mimic his icon John Lennon by wearing circular tinted shades. Indeed, the Gallagher brothers regularly cited The Beatles as their main inspiration and would be quoted on numerous occasions claiming to be the biggest band in the world and the biggest since The Beatles in their trademark conceited demeanour.
It wasn’t just the Beatles whom Oasis admired, though. They also identified strong influences from Manchester neighbours The Stone Roses. Noel Gallagher once said of The Stone Roses: “Without that band, there would not have been an Oasis”. Hence, it would seem very appropriate that the Britpop legends named one of their albums Standing on the Shoulder of Giants.
Noel Gallagher has also regularly spoken of his adoration for the music of David Bowie in recent years. In a recent interview, he was quizzed about his favourite Bowie material. He responded, aiming his attention towards the Starman’s 1980’s period; he named ‘Let’s Dance’, ‘Modern Love’ and ‘Blue Jean’ as particular favourites and noted that “the one that [he] always go[es] back to” is ‘Let’s Dance’ because “there’s not enough dancing in the world”.
When Oasis released their masterpiece (What’s the Story) Morning Glory? in 1995, one of the most memorable and anthemic tracks on the album was ‘Don’t Look Back In Anger’, which was released as a single the following year. The track appears to have taken its title from Bowie’s ‘Look Back In Anger’ from his 1979 album Lodger. The Bowie comparison doesn’t stop here; the sing-along anthemic composition reminiscent of the glam-rock era was also inspired by Bowie’s ‘All the Young Dudes’, which he originally wrote for the struggling group Mott the Hoople. As Noel once said of the song: “[It] reminds me of a cross between ‘All the Young Dudes’ and something the Beatles might’ve done.”
The song also appears to have taken considerable inspiration from John Lennon. Noel once openly admitted that one of the ideas for the song came directly from the late Beatle: “I got this tape in the United States that had apparently been burgled from the Dakota Hotel and someone had found these cassettes. Lennon was starting to record his memoirs on tape. He’s going on about ‘trying to start a revolution from me bed, because they said the brains I had went to my head.’ I thought, ‘Thank you, I’ll take that’!”. The catchy line Noel stole from Lennon here most likely refers to the famous ‘bed-in’ protests for peace that he and Yoko Ono held in the late 1960s.
The opening piano in ‘Don’t look Back In Anger’ also appears to have taken inspiration from Lennon. The progression strikes a close resemblance to the piano sequence heard in ‘Imagine’. However, the progression is particularly common in popular music and can be traced back to Johann Pachelbel’s classical piece ‘Canon in D’.
While the song took strands of its DNA from David Bowie and John Lennon by Noel’s admission, it certainly doesn’t detract from Noel’s creativity in putting the finished product together. If anything, the elements that Noel took from his idols add to the value of ‘Don’t look Back In Anger’ as it pays homage to the giants on whose shoulders he stands. Next time you hear a crowd chanting this classic Oasis anthem, you might just be reminded of two of our biggest musical legends.