This week in 1996 Oasis was No.1 with (What’s the Story) an album that lives on today.
The songs on (What’s the Story) were a direct counterpoint to those on the band’s 1994 debut album, Definitely Maybe.
“The whole of the first album is about escape,” Noel, the band’s principal songwriter, said in May, 1996, of ’94’s Definitely Maybe. “It’s about getting away from the shitty, boring life of Manchester. The first album is about dreaming of being a pop star in a band. The second album is about actually being a pop star in a band.”
“Wonderwall” takes its name from a George Harrison album, and was written for Noel’s then-girlfriend, Meg Matthews.
While it borrows its title from George Harrison’s debut solo release, Wonderwall Music, the soundtrack to the 1968 film Wonderwall, the Morning Glory track “Wonderwall” — the album’s oft-quoted breakout hit — was actually written for Noel’s girlfriend at the time, and later his wife, Meg Matthews. She was out of work, and he wanted her to know how important she was to him. For Matthews, having a famous song written about her was a bit odd. “You can’t go up to someone and say, ‘Hi, I’m Wonderwall,'” Matthews, who later would marry and then divorce Gallagher, told The Sunday Times in February, 1996. “It’s a joke between me and all my friends, but the average Joe Bloggs doesn’t know. George Harrison wrote the music to the film Wonderwall, so that’s the reference, but to me, it’s about being his wall of strength. His solidity.”
That didn’t stop Liam from downplaying the song’s significance. “A wonderwall can be anything,” Liam told Rolling Stone months after the song’s release. “It’s just a beautiful word. It’s like looking for that bus ticket, and you’re trying to fucking find it, that bastard, and you finally find it and you pull it out, ‘Fucking mega, that is me wonderwall.'”
Some of the album’s most popular songs — like “Roll With It” and “Don’t Look Back in Anger”— had little to no lyrical significance.
“‘Don’t Look Back in Anger’ doesn’t mean anything, even though it’s a great song,” Noel told Rolling Stone. “When I’m sober, I think too much about the lyrics. I’m at my best when I’m pissed out of me head and I just write.” Liam, for his part, disputes this. Not that he could ever put it into words. “I don’t know what they mean, but there’s still meaning there. They mean things, but I just don’t exactly know what.”
Longtime Oasis drummer Alan White agreed to join the band only one week before recording began on (What’s the Story).
“We went out for a beer, came back and had a jam, and that was it,” White, who had previously walked out of an Oasis concert because he was unhappy with the drumming, told Rolling Stone in 1996. “I thought they’d be a bunch of nutses, but they weren’t
Noel admitted “Champagne Supernova” was his most egotistical endeavor on the album.
“‘Champagne Supernova’ — for Christ’s sake, how big is that title?” he told The Sunday Times. “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.’ When I’m straight, you get ‘Roll With It’ — little pop ditties. When I’m out of it on drugs, I get a seriously cocky bastard. Understand?”