When he wasn't busy ripping off the Beatles, Noel Gallagher gave his brother Liam some great words to sing in Oasis. And while he could often be a cynical grump with a harsh view of the outside world, he also penned a lot of songs with anthem-sized messages of hope. He also wrote a bunch that didn't make a whole lotta sense but sure sounded good within the melodic context. You'll find a sample platter of the Gallaghers' greatness in our list of the 10 Best Oasis Lyrics.
"We the people fight for our existence / We don't claim to be perfect but we're free / We dream our dreams alone with no resistance / Fading like the stars we wish to be / You know I didn't mean what I just said / But my god woke up on the wrong side of his bed / And it just don't matter now."
Oasis' fifth album, 'Heathen Chemistry,' is usually dismissed by fans. And for good reason: The band was falling apart and most of the songwriting on this 2002 outing is lazy. But the single 'Little by Little' offers a little hope among the ruins.
"Take the time to make some sense of what you want to say and cast your words away upon the waves / Sail them home with acquiesce on a ship of hope today, and as they land upon the shore, tell them not to fear no more / Say it loud and sing it proud today."
Noel Gallagher has said that this song -- originally the B side of 'Wonderwall' -- is one of the best he's ever written. That probably explains why he sings it instead of Liam. Either way, it's a grand anthem filled with Beatlesque words and music. The opening lines -- advice to throw caution to the wind, basically -- are perfect setup.
'D'You Know What I Mean?'
"Look into the wall of my mind's eye / I think I know, but I don't know why / The questions are the answers you might need / Coming in a mess, going out in style / I ain't good looking, but I'm someone's child / No one can give me the air that's mine to breathe."
Oasis borrow song titles from the Beatles and Bob Dylan on this massive single from 1997. But the core lines are all Noel's. And they all lead to a chorus that's either shrugged-off brilliant or just plain lazy: "All my people right here, right now / D'you know what I mean?" You decide.
"I live my life for the stars that shine / People say it's just a waste of time / When they said I should feed my head / That to me was just a day in bed / ... In my mind, my dreams are real ... / Tonight I'm a rock 'n roll star."
Oasis weren't yet rock 'n' roll stars when they cut the opening song on their debut album. But they were getting there. And Noel Gallagher already had super-sized dreams of success. He later said this was one of the few songs on 'Definitely Maybe' that meant something to him.
"You can have it all, but how much do you want it? / You make me laugh / Give me your autograph / Can I ride with you in your BMW? / You can sail with me in my yellow submarine."
The band's debut single pretty much sets up Oasis' worldview in four and a half minutes. There's dreams of luxury and rock-star extravagance (complete with autographs and BMWs), as well as as little bit of the sharp perception on fame Noel occasionally brought to his songs. Plus, there's that Beatles reference.
"Some might say they don't believe in heaven / Go and tell it to the man who lives in hell / Some might say you get what you've been given / If you don't get yours, I won't get mine as well."
Like so many Oasis songs, 'Some Might Say' -- from their second album, '(What's the Story) Morning Glory?' -- is built on a turbocharged riff that helps push any of the lyric's banalities into awesome territory. And like so many Oasis songs, it's more hopeful than it may let on. Look no further than the above line, or the great one that leads to it: "Some might say we will find a brighter day."
'Don't Look Back in Anger'
"I start a revolution from my bed / Because you said the brains I had went to my head / Step outside the summertime's in bloom / Stand up beside the fireplace, take that look from off your face / You ain't ever gonna burn my heart out."
The first Oasis single to feature Noel on lead vocals is also one of the band's very best. And in a way, it's a summation of their very Britishness -- from the title (a nod to a whole genre of plays in the '50s and '60s) to, once again, a Beatles reference.
"Maybe I just want to fly / I want to live, I don't want to die / Maybe I just want to breath / Maybe I just don't believe / Maybe you're the same as me / We see things they'll never see / You and I are gonna live forever."
Deceptively simple, this early single -- which Noel Gallagher's admitted lifting its starting point from a Rolling Stones song -- embodies much of the band's pre-fame mix of nerve and optimism. It's reassuring, in that anthem-like way Gallagher occasionally structures his songs -- but there's also that sense of immortality, which, of course, carried straight on over to their rock-star days.
"Maybe you're gonna be the one that saves me / And after all, you're my wonderwall."
We're not even gonna act like we know what's going on here. We have no idea what a wonderwall is or even what Liam is singing about. But we do know that 'Wonderwall' got its name from a George Harrison album (the first solo album by a Beatle, in fact) and that it's Oasis' best song. And it fits in so well with Noel's gorgeous melody. In the end, we know exactly what he's talking about.
"Is it worth the aggravation to find yourself a job when there's nothing worth working for?"
Noel Gallagher nails 1990s disillusionment with this single from their debut album. With a riff borrowed from T. Rex's 'Bang a Gong (Get It On),' 'Cigarettes & Alcohol' is a chronicle of working-class life washed away by a diet of booze, nicotine and narcotics. And it's a totally brilliant worldview summed up by the band in such an early stage of its career.