4 | “Start with the chorus. Work backwards from that”
Someone asked me what “Champagne Supernova” is about. I was like, “Who gives a fuck what it’s about?” And he’s going, “But surely when you write it you must know?” On stage, two hours later, in Scotland, with an acoustic guitar, I’m playing it and there’s a 15-year old kid, he’s got his top off and he’s singing it, crying his eyes out, and I’m thinking, “That’s what it’s about.”
The chorus. Never mind the fucking words. Start with the chorus. Work backwards from that. Awopbopaloobopawopbamboom. What the does that mean? Nothing. Exactly.
“Don’t Look Back in Anger.” I remember writing it in Paris on a rainy night. We had just played a strip club: our set finished, the strippers came on. We were nothing, an insignificant little band. And I remember going back to my hotel room and writing it, and thinking, “That’ll be pretty good when we record it.” If I’d have known that night what I know now about people playing it at fucking funerals and weddings, I’d never have finished the song. Too much pressure. Technically, there’s better songwriters than I am. Guardian writers will tell you that. Have other people’s songs ever really touched a generation, though? Radiohead? When do people listen to them? Is it when they go out, or is it when they come in? Because I’m struggling to think.
Look, as soon as Thom Yorke writes a song as good as fucking “Mony Mony”, give us a fucking shout. Me and my missus, we were at the Coachella festival a couple of years ago and Radiohead were headlining. We were like, “Right, let’s give them one more chance. Let’s go and see them.” Beautiful, sunny night. We walked out through the crowd as they came on, and they were playing this post-techno: “de-de de de”. We were a bit pissed. Fucking great. And then he started singing. No. Not for us. We’re party people.
I’m never going to write a song that connects with people as much as “Don’t Look Back in Anger” has, but that doesn’t stop me from going to the well every morning. I still think there’s great songs out there that haven’t been written yet. And I still think when I’m sitting down to finish off that song I’ll come up with that line that turns it from a good song to a great song. I guess it’s like any writer – not that I consider myself “a writer” because they are the fucking most boring cunts in the world – but, as a writer you surely always think that your best work is in front of you, even though I’m self-aware enough to realise it’s probably fucking behind me.
There’s a certain joy in my songs where they go well with boozing.