Thursday, July 15, 2010

Artist of the Day -- by request -- Oasis

Ah, the brothers Gallagher. They formed in 1991 and burst onto the international scene with their first, very successful, CD in 1994.  How much sturm und drang have the two boys from Manchester wrought on an unsuspecting pop music world since then?  One is a tormented lyricist who crafts lush melodies, the other a troubled soul who seems to be the only one to bring his brother's songs fully to life.  Separately, neither might have risen to prominence, united they exemplify the hoary old saying -- they make beautiful music together.

Unlike some of the artists I may write about, this artist of the day is a request  -- from CJFan_Audrey.  And they are hardly an unknown quantity.  But I do love Oasis and am thrilled to have an excuse to write about them.  So instead of discussing the band, I want to highlight two of my favorite songs of theirs.

The first is Live Forever from the album Definitely, Maybe.  If ever there were an Oasis song that emphasized how Liam's vocals are that extra something that elevates his brother Noel's lyrics to new heights, this is the song.  How Liam drags out every vowel.  Maaaaaybeeeee, I don't really want to knooooooow, how your garden groooooows, cuz I just want to flyyyyyyyy. He is selling every word like Sinatra used to.  He is telling a story.

And what a story.  As written by someone just in their twenties, it has an awareness and maturity that belies both the era and genre of music.  Who else was writing uplifting, hopeful songs in the early 90s?  It's such an optimistic, if a tad unrealistic, song.  Liam sings "Maybe I will never be, all the things that I want to be, now is not the time to cry, now's the time to find out why."  His brother's words -- the chorus of the song -- sung ethereally, "You and I are gonna live forever."  Is that youthful naivete or a brash promise?

The story goes that after Noel wrote this song, he presented it to his brother who liked it enough to invite him to join his band.  This song was later used to secure them a record deal.  According to the record executive who signed them hearing that song "was probably the single greatest moment I've ever experienced with them."

That's not hard to imagine.  Even though after this they went on to record (What's the Story) Morning Glory with classics such as Wonderwall and Champagne Supernova Live Forever is in a class by itself.

The official video is cluttered with quick shots of dearly departed rock legends -- Lennon, Hendrix, Morrison, Cobain and others.  Are Oasis a bunch of punks putting themselves in that category after just one album?   Or is this a nod to the timeless, eternal nature of music and art?

Almost as an afterthought you notice not just the lyrics and the vocals, but the musicianship in the song.  It starts with a jolt, the drums grabbing your attention with a tribal beat.   I love the guitar in the middle; it's so uplifting, almost giddy.  By the end the instruments almost take over and bury the vocals.  Liam barely tries, he's probably never worked up a sweat on stage.  He brings the concept of phoning it in to new lows...and yet, can you imagine anyone else singing this?

The other song I wanted to spotlight is Cast No Shadow from their hugely successful sophomore effort. I love the live video -- watching Liam on stage tickles me for some reason.  Why he insists on the microphone being always just a little too high.  Why the incongruous posture, arms pulled back as if about to take a leisurely stroll, not perform on stage before thousands of screaming fans.  Meanwhile, his neck is strained to the breaking point, so he can reach the mike.  Odd.

It is the marriage between heart-wrenching lyrics and sweet melody that make the song so powerful.
Bound with all the weight of all the words he tried to say
Chained to all the places that he never wished to stay
Bound with all the weight of all the words he tried to say
As he faced the sun he cast no shadow
Well, he sounds like a happy bloke!  

The song, so rueful and melancholy, doesn't leave you with hope or resolution.  He disappears...fades away, unnoticed.  How could someone seemingly so capable of expressing himself in song, still feel so mute that he had to write this?  Why did Noel not believe in himself?  Or is it the curse of great artists to be plagued by self doubt?

On that cheerful note, enjoy the song:

1 comment:

  1. @CJFan_Audrey (Twitter)July 15, 2010 at 5:06 PM

    Shari, thank you for this extra credit posting. I hope we can introduce @CaseyEJames and our fellow twitter friends to Oasis, one of the finest bands of all time in my opinion! I am loving your artist-coverage on the site - always so well written!

    PS - I love Liam's singing stance, definitely his trademark!