It was 20 years ago today… that Oasis’ all-conquering single ‘Don’t Look Back In Anger’ was released. Their second Number 1 in the UK, it was also the wider public’s first taste of Noel Gallagher as a lead vocalist. Here’s some facts you might not know about the track.
1) The guitar solo is half-inched from Primal Scream’s ‘Damaged’, itself heavily indebted to late 60s Rolling Stones fare.
2) Although it’s one of Oasis’ biggest selling singles in the UK (900,000 copies and counting), it didn’t do amazingly abroad – Number 57 in Germany and 55 in the Billboard Hot 100. Weirdly, it did get to Number 8 in Zimbabwe though.
3) ‘Don’t Look Back In Anger’ track was debuted live at Oasis’ Sheffield Arena gig on April 22, 1995. It was a big show for them – the first properly massive gig they’d ever done, and the first hint that things were about to get super-size big in the UK. Noel had written the track just four days earlier, in a hotel room in France while Oasis were on tour with The Verve. Here’s a bootleg of the Sheffield performance – the “Mathers” Noel dedicates it to is former Melody Maker man and Oasis biographer Paul Mathers, if you were wondering.
4) Loads of the lyrics – including the “revolution in my bed” bit – were nicked from the Lost Lennon Tapes, a mammoth, four-year radio documentary series produced by John Lennon’s Dakota building buddy Elliot Mintz which aired on US radio in the late 80s and featured rare recordings and interviews by the Beatle.
5) “Stand up beside the fireplace / Take that look right off your face”? That’s what Liam and Noel’s mum Peggy would routinely say to them every Christmas when she tried to take the family photo.
6) Liam was supposed to sing it – kind of. Noel gave him the choice between doing this or ‘Wonderwall’.
7) Apparently, Noel wanted to capture the vibe of Paul Weller’s soulful ‘Wings Of Speed’ when recording it.
8) The Libertines nicked the melody wholesale for ‘Don’t Look Back Into The Sun’, which Pete Doherty later gleefully admitted gleefully was a mash-up of the Oasis classic and ‘Ride Into The Sun’ by the Velvet Underground.
9). Who’s Sally? Noel’s not giving much away: “I don’t actually know anybody called Sally. It’s just a word that fit, y’know, might as well throw a girl’s name in there. It’s gotta guarantee somebody a shag off a bird called Sally, hasn’t it?” Apparently Liam coined that line anyway, having misunderstood what Noel was actually singing at soundcheck for the Sheffield gig.
10) In Oasis’ later years, when performing the track live Noel changed the key – going lower from C to B major.
11) It’s use at the climax of seminal mid-90s TV drama Our Friends In The North is still one of THE great moments in British TV history, helping to cement the song’s now-legendary status. Speaking in 2005, Noel told NME’s sister magazine Uncut: “I still haven’t seen that episode, but loads of people have come up to me, saying “Man, it was so fucking powerful.” And it kinda took on a life of its own after that.”
12) “Slip inside the eye of your mind” is likely a nod towards The Small Faces’ ‘My Minds Eye’. The chord progression of the two tracks is remarkably similar too.