“There aren’t ever answers, there are only ever more questions.”
This sentence, pronounced by Noel Gallagher after seeing the initial sketch of the album cover (refusing it), forced Brian Cannon to change his point of view on the artwork. What came out was a totally different cover compared to Definitely, Maybe (1994). Brian, following Gallagher’s instructions, decided to focus on a single constant, mystery, and what came out was a cover depicting two anonymous boys filmed in a fuzzy way, as they walked through Berwick Street.
Who are those boys?
The album was released on October 2nd, 1995 and it’s recognized worldwide as the symbol of Britpop. Ten weeks in a row at the top of UK album chart, 346,000 copies sold only in the first week, the third best-selling album in UK, elected in 2010 the best album of last thirty years. Don’t Look Back in Anger, Champagne Supernova, Some Might Say and of course Wonderwall are songs that have entered the history of music. Wonderwall was defined their second best song of all time, second only to Live Forever. At some point Noel Gallagher, very annoyed by the “Wonderwall” topic although it was the song that defined their global success, said:
“Outside of England, it’s the one song we’re famous for all over the world, and it annoys the fuck out of me. It’s not a fucking rock’n’roll tune. There’s quite a vulnerable statement to it. When people come up to me and say it’s one of the greatest tunes ever written, I think, ‘f***ing hell, have you heard ‘Live Forever’?”
After the release of the album, Noel’s ego spiked. In an interview of 1995 he said:
“Whilst Definitely Maybe is about dreaming of being a pop star in a band, What’s the Story is about actually being a pop star in a band.”
The album is completely different than the first one, with an interesting backstory and many anecdotes worthy of being remembered. As Noel said, the main theme behind Definitely Maybe was the escape and the dream of becoming a pop star, while in the second album the dream has become reality and you can no longer escape: now you are history of music. Almost all the best songs of the album were written by Noel before going to sleep: “This is the sign of a great song: I write a song before I go to bed. I won’t have any lyrics, just a melody. If I can remember it first thing in the morning, then I know it’s good.” (Alternative Press, 1995).
A good example is Don’t Lock Back in Anger, the song that triggered the umpteenth problem with his brother during the recordings of the album. Between the two there has always been rivalry, they quarreled for days about the voices for Wonderwall and Don’t Look Back in Anger and in the end they took one song each. For the recording of Don‘t Look Back in Anger Liam invited thirty drunken friends to assist, and Noel furiously threatened him with a cricket bat. And still about this track: once Noel said that some of their most famous songs – and that one in particular – make no sense, because he wrote the lyrics while he was sober, and when he’s sober he thinks too much. His brother answered that he doesn’t think it’s true: he doesn’t know what the words mean, but he’s sure that there is a meaning.
There are many things that I would like to say to you
But I don’t know how
Another important song of the album is undoubtedly Champagne Supernova. “For Christ’s sake, how big is that title? It’s like I’m saying, ‘I am Mr. Noel Gallagher. Do you know who I am? I am the greatest. I’m like Muhammad Ali”: these are Noel’s words about that song. The only song, according to Noel, he played every night since he wrote it. It doesn’t have a particular meaning, the question “Where were you while we were getting high?” was something that they often said each other. Most of the sentences seem meaningless just because they were written on acid. About it, Noel said:
“Slowly walking down the hall, faster than a cannonball” – what’s that mean? I don’t know. But are you telling me, when you’ve got 60,000 people singing it, they don’t know what it means? It means something different to every one of them.”
Some Might Say was the first single to promote the album, and according to Noel is “the archetypal Oasis song”, it defines what they are. Again, the song does not have a real meaning: “I used to write really pissed and out of it so I can’t remember what I was thinking about.” He also claimed that he wrote the song in a boring day, when he didn’t show up in the studio.
Some might say they don’t believe in heaven
Go and tell it to the man who lives in hell
Wonderwall was the album’s third single. The title was in a movie from the 60s and it’s also a tribute to George Harrison, the author of the soundtrack of that movie. You can sense the meaning of the song by analyzing the words: it’s Noel’s fragility towards somebody. We don’t know if it’s a man or a woman, but the latter is probably the right guess. For somebody, it’s about his girlfriend of that time, who will be his wife until 2001, but Noel never confirmed that.
And what’s a wonder wall anyway?
The rest is history.