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Oasis: Looking Back on (What’s The Story) Morning Glory? at 25…

Even in the midst of a world-wide lockdown due to a global pandemic, the mere hint of an Oasis reunion still makes headlines.

This month marks 25 years since Oasis released (What’s the Story) Morning Glory? – a record that became one of the biggest selling albums of all time, resonated around the world, and whose hearty songs (like “Wonderwall,” which recently passed 1 billion streams on Spotify) continue to find the Manchester, England band – more than a decade after their split – new fans.

To understand why, just drop the needle on the first of WTSMG’s four vinyl sides, hit play on the CD, queue up the cassette or just stream it on Spotify – and there it is, those timeless opening notes. No, not of the bombastic, let’s-bust-through-the-door-and-have-a-fookin’-party opening bluesy-rock feel of “Hello,” but those haunting, heart-tugging, quietly tender guitar strums from one rock’s greatest ballads – “Wonderwall” – teased briefly at the top.

Oasis at Slane Castle in 1995

CREDIT: Independent News and Media/Getty Images

“Because maybe, you’re gonna be the one that saves me . . .”

“Some songs hit big and stay with people because they are so specific, because they’re so personal and because everybody can relate to them. I think ‘Wonderwall’ is the opposite because who the hell knows what it’s about?” Gene “Bean” Baxter, one-half of legendary former KROQ morning program The Kevin and Bean Show tells SPIN down the phone line from the U.K., one evening. “I almost wonder if it’s a Rorschach test where you can just believe it’s about anything, you can just read anything you want into it. Like you have . . . I’ve heard that [song] 20,000 times in my life. Do you have any idea what it’s about?”

There are suggestions about that topic scattered across global internet servers still housing early Oasis interviews. Some believe it’s about Noel’s girlfriend at the time (Meg Matthews), others that it has something to do with a George Harrison film, and still others who think it has to do with an inspiring talk between Noel and an imaginary champion.

“Fuck—I actually don’t know,” Alan McGee, the Creation Records boss who discovered them at a tiny gig in Glasgow, Scotland, believed in them, and brought them to his UK label, tells SPIN. “No idea.”

What McGee did know when he heard that song – one of three that Noel sent the Scotsman on a tape after running into him in Central London sometime in early 1995, was that it was special.

“I knew with that song and the momentum the band had actually built up, that we were going to sell a lot of records. But I even got that wrong. I actually thought when I heard ‘Wonderwall,’ ‘God, we’re gonna sell 10 million!’ and we sold 23 million. I got it wrong,” he laughs.

Fans of Oasis

CREDIT: Independent News and Media/Getty Images

According to people who keep track of these things, (What’s the Story) Morning Glory? is one of the biggest selling albums of all time, globally. And even newly-imposed social-distance guidelines issued by the British government couldn’t stop folks from commemorating the album’s silver anniversary – albeit from an appropriate distance – on Oct. 2nd.

“It means something to people. It does,” BBC 6 Music’s Matt Everitt, a graduate of mid-’90s indie-pop band [email protected], tells SPIN. “It’s being covered in the news and people are doing interviews about it and stuff like that.

“People still care. People still care,” he says earnestly. “Even if they haven’t heard the album for years, they know what that album made them feel like. It reminds them of certain moments in their life. It was the first time for many, many people that they’d seen a band on stage that were about their lives, singing to them … for them. It’s that football analogy again, Oasis were everyone’s team for a while – everybody’s favorite team and even if you go off football or whatever and you get busy in your life doing other things, that loyalty stays, I think.”

In Britain, WTSMG became massive – like blaring out of every shop/bedroom/pub/car window massive, spending 10 weeks at No. 1 in the UK charts, and eventually shifting 4.8 million LPs, making it, according to the Official Charts, Britain’s third best-selling album of all time.

Photo of Noel GALLAGHER and OASIS

CREDIT: Mick Hutson/Redferns

“Please don’t put your life in the hands, of a rock ‘n’ roll band/We’ll throw it all away . . .  “

Wisdom is supposed to be a benefit of age, no doubt due to a well-worn risk-assessment gauge. Youth, though – with or without the reckless past times afforded to it – produces an advantage usually broken down by time: fearlessness. Oasis embraced that. For Noel, that creative bravery (or, as some like to call it, that Oasis arrogance) came out in his songwriting. He had an ear for melody – his own, or borrowing unapologetically from his heroes in the pantheon of rock – and it came together quickly in an album that captured something a little familiar, a lot anthemic and so good it was otherworldly.

“The songs from that album … those are like Beatles songs,” Bean notes. “Those are songs that I feel like people are going to be listening to and singing in soccer stadiums in 100 years. I don’t think songs like that ever go away – especially, ‘Don’t Look Back [in Anger]’ and ‘Wonderwall.’ That’s in the great America songbook tradition, songs like that. And you don’t always know that at the time, but they certainly were exceptional records. They weren’t just pop hits. You could tell that was real artistry. Whatever Noel was drinking or smoking, you know [Laughs], it worked. He hit into an unbelievably creative vein in that time.”

It took just 12 of the possible 42 days Oasis – Noel, Liam, guitarist Paul “Bonehead” Arthurs, bassist Paul “Guigsy” McGuigan and new drummer Alan White – had been booked in the studio for to record that album (and mixed in what McGee remembers as about 10 days).

Noel brought those amazing songs and his brother, frontman Liam tapped into a heavenly vocal maturity well-beyond his 22-or-so years, something Noel still gives him credit for. “Liam’s voice is fucking on another level on that record,” Noel says in the “Return to Rockfield” video, released on Oasis’ YouTube page as part of the WTSMG 25 celebrations that continue this month.

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