There are a dozen songs that could be picked out as particularly significant milestones in the rise of Oasis, and ‘Some Might Say’ is one of them. It was the last song Tony McCarroll would ever drum on for the band before being replaced by Alan White (McCarroll left the band on April 20 after, it’s been rumoured, a confrontation with Liam after a show at The Bataclan in Paris, though the drummer later denied this). It was the first song Noel Gallagher wrote when he moved from Manchester to London, in June 1994. It was the band’s first Number One single, and set a 10-year precedent for the lead single from each Oasis album topping the charts. It was first demoed at the ‘Whatever’ sessions at Maison Rouge Studios in Chelsea in the summer of 1994 (at which point it was “slow and heavy and dark”, Owen Morris told Q Magazine in 2010, “really quite cool in a Rolling Stones way”) so is in every way the sound of the band transitioning from ‘Definitely Maybe’ to ‘(What’s The Story) Morning Glory?’.
It was also, as Alan McGee explained to Uncut in 1998, the song that proved the catalyst for the all-consuming ‘Roll With It’ and ‘Country House’ chart battle, which was the climax of a rivalry between Oasis and Blur that had been bubbling along nicely since the spring of 1994, when ‘Supersonic’ came out at a similar time to Blur’s ‘Parklife’ album. “I’d been friends with Damon Albarn for some time, so I invited him to the ‘Some Might Say’ party after the record went to Number One. Liam, being Liam, spent the evening relentlessly taunting Damon. “Nah, nah, nah, nah, nah, nah. We’re Number One, you’re not.” It was deliberately, offensively infantile and it really riled Damon. Liam was only 20. When you are just 20, you say silly things. It’s almost your job to talk total bollocks. Anyway, Damon left the party thinking ‘Fuck you, Liam, I’m going to teach you a lesson’. That’s why Blur upped the ante and moved the release date of ‘Country House’. To go up against us. The best thing that happened to Oasis was that Blur took them on and carried on taking them on.”
The song’s effect on the size of Oasis had an instant impact on how fans who’d followed the band from the beginning felt about them. In the May 20, 1995 issue of Melody Maker, following news that ‘Some Might Say’ had gone to Number One, an irked man called Phil Thornton wrote into the letters page to announce “I think it’s time we began the inevitable backlash” based on “plain old jealousy, petty vindictiveness and juvenile contempt for any band achieving mainstream success” and the fact that “Oasis are as contrived a pop package as Take That”. The response from writer David Stubbs was to the point: “Now that Oasis are Number One, you’re down on them because they’re no longer your hip Mancunian secret. Bollocks, of course. Oasis have done what they set out to do and done it brilliantly.”
Noel Gallagher, of course, couldn’t agree more. “As soon as I’d written ‘Some Might Say’ I was absolutely certain it would be a Number One and I was right. I never had even the slightest doubt. That was the gin and tonic getting the better of me.”
The story behind the sleeve
Michael Spencer Jones, photographer: “This shot was basically a visual interpretation of the lyrics. Noel had wanted to have the photograph set at a working train station, but I thought it would make for a more interesting and surreal shot if the station was disused, with a set of characters waiting for a train that would never arrive. The platform could act as the stage. I must have spent two weeks reccying the shot all around England. In the end a neighbour suggested Cromford station near Matlock in Derbyshire. I checked it out and it was ideal. I shot it on black-and-white film and spent a week or so hand-painting the photograph with watercolours and a brush to create more of a surrealist effect.”
Brian Cannon, art director: “It’s the Oasis artwork I’m most proud of. It’s a great interpretation of the lyrics, and my mum [with the mop] and dad [with the wheelbarrow] are on it too!”
Noel Gallagher: “It’s got loads of references to things in the song, although I haven’t any idea what any of it means. Is it deliberate that if you hold the sleeve upside down the fish in the wheelbarrow looks like a line of coke? I think you’ve read too many conspiracy theories.”
What we said then
“OK, so it’s no ‘Whatever’, but what is? Anybody would ve difficulty following a record like that. But ‘Some Might Say’ is still one of the finest examples of pop music you’ll hear this year. Noel Gallagher is on the barmy-lyric bus again (“The sink is full of fishes/’Cos she’s got dirty dishes on the brain”), and it’s nice to hear big bro joining little Liam on the neat call-and-response coda.” Terry Staunton, single review, NME, April 15, 1995.