“I think it was twelve working days. We were doing a track a day, which is insane. When people ask me round the world about my album, I said it took twelve days, they just don’t believe you. They just say no, it couldn’t have, it takes twelve days to set the drum kit up.”
But it’s true. It took just twelve days to record the fifth biggest selling album in the UK. (What’s The Story) Morning Glory? was the follow-up to the assured Oasis debut Definitely Maybe, but Gallagher admits that half the songs weren’t even written when the band arrived at the studio. So how did Noel come up with such a masterpiece?
Radio X looks back (not in anger) at some of the inspirations behind this landmark album.
1 – Hello
How do you follow-up a generation-defining like Definitely Maybe? By being as boisterous and confident as possible.
Hello was the only way Oasis could open the album – although there’s a false start as the sound of Noel Gallagher playing the chords to Wonderwall actually kicks off the song… only to be blasted away by the swagger of Liam singing the line: “I don’t feel as if I know you / You take up all my time…”
“If Definitely Maybe was about dreaming about being in a band, this one is actually about being in a band,” Noel Gallagher told Select magazine.
2 – Roll With It
“I like the sentiments of that song,” Noel Gallagher told the NME in September 1995, just as (What’s The Story) Morning Glory was due to be released. “It’s just a simple rock ‘n’ roll tune.”
This was the track that became entangled in the “Battle Of Britpop” when it went head to head for the Number 1 spot with Blur’s Country House. The Southern band made it to the top.
Alex James later told The Guardian: “Blur won the battle, Oasis won the war, then Blur went on to win the whole campaign.”
3 – Wonderwall
Back in 1995, Noel Gallagher admitted that the lyric was inspired by his then-girlfriend (and later wife) Meg Matthews. “She had a company which folded and she was feeling a bit sorry for herself,” he told the NME. “The sentiment is that there was no point in her feeling down, she has to sort my life out for me because I’m in bits half the time.”
The title was inspired by a psychedelic 1968 movie that featured a George Harrison soundtrack and this classic was famously kept off the Number 1 spot in 1995 by TV heart-throbs Robson And Jerome.
Noel told Radio X about two people from the record company coming down to Rockfield Studios in Wales as they were working on the album: “We played them Roll With It, Hello and Morning Glory… then Wonderwall came on. I’ll never forget – they both kind of looked at each other, and if they didn’t have pound signs in their eyes… they were like, oh wow. It’s a good job I didn’t know what was going to happen. I thought it was a good album at the time, yeah it’ll do.”
4 – Don’t Look Back In Anger
”Please don’t put your life in the hands / of a rock and roll band / who’ll throw it all away”.
Don’t Look Back In Anger was one of the tracks that awarded Oasis the mantle of Britain’s favourite band. The song made Number 1 in the UK charts and became the third best selling Oasis single in their home country.
Noel Gallagher recalled writing the song while the band were in Paris, performing with The Verve, then playing the chords at a soundcheck later in Sheffield. “Our kid said, ‘What’s that you’re singing?’ I wasn’t singing anyway, I was just making it up. And our kid said, ‘Are you singing So Sally can wait?’ And I was like – that’s genius! So I started singing, ‘So Sally can wait’.”
The lyrics have become more poignant with time, and the song was taken up as an anthem following the Manchester Arena terror attack in 2017. “Honestly as the years have gone by, that song is more important than I’ll ever be,” Noel told Radio X. “It is incredible to think that a few generations have attached some kind of importance to that song. That song now has become a hymn to something or other.”
In 1995, Noel claimed that Don’t Look Back In Anger was “about not being upset about the things you might have said or done yesterday”.
6 – Hey Now!
Noel claims that this song is about “being in a group”, and that it’s taken a lot of hard work for Oasis to achieve success. He told Select magazine: “It’s not been as big a laugh as we thought it would be. This song is basically saying, ‘There’s no time for running away now’.”
And Oasis didn’t run away. (What’s The Story) Morning Glory? sold 345,000 copies in its first week in the shops and went on to spend 10 weeks at Number 1 in the UK album charts. It remains the fifth biggest selling album in the UK, having shifted 4.7 million copies in the quarter of a century since its release, being beaten only by Queen, Abba, The Beatles and Adele. It’s sold more copies in this country than Michael Jackson’s Thriller and Pink Floyd’s Dark Side Of The Moon.
6 – The Swamp Song #1
A snippet of an instrumental that later turned out to be called The Swamp Song, which appeared as a B-side to Wonderwall and had opened the band’s set at Glastonbury in 1995.
7 – Bonehead’s Bank Holiday
A piece of whimsy about Mr Paul Arthurs, which was a treat for those people who bought (What’s The Story) Morning Glory? on vinyl, but was missed off the CD version. It was meant to be Bonehead’s “Ringo moment” – as the drummer used to always get one vocal on every Beatles album – but the Oasis guitarist was too nervous and got hammered before his big moment.
8 – Some Might Say
“‘Cause I’ve been standing at the station / In need of education in the rain”
The sixth Oasis single was also their first Number 1. Kicking off with a T. Rex-style guitar intro, the song was the first preview of the band’s hugely-anticipated second album. Noel Gallagher later said that the track “defines what Oasis is”.
Released in April 1995, it signalled the beginning of the imperial phase of Britpop, but also marked the end of an era – original Oasis drummer Tony McCarroll bowed out on this recording, with new boy Alan White waiting in the wings.
9 – Cast No Shadow
“As they took his soul they stole his pride / And as he faced the sun he cast no shadow.”
A quieter moment on the barnstorming second album from the Burnage lads, this song was famously dedicated to the mercurial singer of The Verve, Richard Ashcroft.
Never released as a single, the song was released just as The Verve were about to go stellar with their own music.
Noel Gallagher told Select in 1997: “I played him the song, and he nearly started crying. I was like, ‘Come on, hold yourself together, son!
“In a way, it’s about all my friends who were in groups. We are bound with the weight of all the words we have to say. We’re always looking for more.”
10 – She’s Electric
One of the lighter tracks on Morning Glory?, She’s Electric is half With A Little Help From My Friends by The Beatles and half the theme tune to the 1970s kids TV show You And Me.
Noel later told Select mag that the song is “about a boy who’s got a girlfriend, and he used to go out with her sister, that he fancies her mother, doesn’t get on with her brother, and, as somebody gets her cousin, pregnant, and everybody thinks it was him, because he’s a bit of a f**king rum c**t… but it wasn’t.”
11- Morning Glory
With its helicopter sound effect opening and blatant drug references, this one song sums up the confidence and the swagger of Britpop in 1995. And why not? It was claimed that within a year of its released, one in five UK households owned a copy of (What’s The Story) Morning Glory?
Noel Gallagher admitted that Morning Glory was a “cynical song about drugs”, which is evident in the line: “All your dreams are made / When you’re chained to the mirror and the razor blade.”
12 – The Swamp Song #2
Another untitled clip of the Swamp Song, or as pub jukeboxes in 1995 called it “DON’T PLAY – ONLY 30 SECS LONG”
13 – Champagne Supernova
“Some day you will find me / Caught beneath the landslide / In a champagne supernova in the sky.”
A reflective way to end such a monumental record, Noel Gallagher later said that the lyrics were “As psychedelic as I’ll ever get.”
He went on, telling the NME in 1995: “It means different things when I’m in different moods. When I’m in a bad mood being caught beneath a landslide is like being suffocated. The song is a bit of an epic. It’s about when you’re young and you see people in groups and you think about what they did for you and they did nothing.”