Today, Noel Gallagher turns 40.
Forty! By God, how time flies when you're having fun.
I'd never list Oasis as my all time favorite band, but they're solidly in the Top 5. Their impact on my teenage years can't be understated - before them, the only band I ever gave two craps about was the Beatles, and then in 1994 along came these Brits who were being compared to the Beatles (we'd all heard that one before), but actually were unashamedly fessing up to ripping off and living up to the standards that John, Paul, George and Ringo had set. Even at the tender age of 12, I could tell this was kind of brassy. And I liked it.
Now, it may seem like a lot of people stopped caring after 1997, when "Wonderwall," "Don't Look Back in Anger" and "Champagne Supernova" were finally removed from MTV rotation, Be Here Now
landed like a juggernaut only to find that it couldn't hold people's attention for more than two weeks, and Bonehead and Guigs left, (incredibly -- or increduously) seeming to take a lot of the band's popularity with them.
While Oasis haven't been has popular in the Gem and Andy era, I will say they're better musically, and that while Noel's penchant for writing a great song has slowed incredibly from his mid-'90s prolificacy, he can still turn out some great tunes. And he's still as sharp as ever and reliable for a great quote. And he's still a great interview. Noel Gallagher is just as awesome to me now as he was 13 years ago.
And to celebrate his 40th, here are 40 reasons why you gotta love the man they affectionately call (or, at least, once called) "The Chief."
40 REASONS YOU GOTTA LOVE NOEL
40. More than capable of taking the helm of Oasis himself if Liam decides he's not up for performing...:
39. ...even in non-acoustic instances:
38. ...and even when Liam can't remember the words to the song he's singing:
37. "If you're not in it to become bigger than the Beatles, then it's just a hobby."
36. On Bono: "Play 'One' and shut the f*ck up about Africa."
35. Fantastic taste in music:
34. Sent a plaque to Ocean Colour Scene inscribed to "The Second Best Band in Britain."
33. On Crowded House and "Don't Dream it's Over": "I love that song, that song is incredible. A great, great song and they're really nice guys those fellas."
32. "Rock'n'roll is about music. Music. Music. Music. It's not about you, it's not about me, it's not about Oasis. It's about the songs." (one of the more impassioned arguments from the fantastic Wibbling Rivalry
31. "We got so many harmonies on the records that we thought somebody better sing back up [live]. So seeing as Bonehead's got a voice like Arthur Mullard, Guigs never speaks, and drummers can't sing fullstop, it was down to me really."
30. "Someone was playing a joke when they made me, you know, 'Let's make this guy a writer and a guitar player, but let's make him write with his left hand but play with his right, and let's have him born in the middle of May and give him a Christmas name like Noel, and let's make him a dodgy, schizophrenic, two-faced Gemini.' Cheers!"
29. Has rid himself of the superfluous beard
28. On Thom Yorke: ""Thom Yorke sat at a piano singing, 'This is f*cked up,' for half an hour. We all know that, Mr. Yorke. Who wants to sing the news? No matter how much you sit their twiddling, going, 'We're all doomed,' at the end of the day people will always want to hear you play 'Creep.' Get over it."
27. Gave Ian Brown one of the best tunes on his last album, and joined in Brown's coolest video in ages:
26. ""I'll always be 16 and want to be in a band. You might get old but you don't grow old, if you know what I mean."
25. Face it, "Don't Look Back in Anger" conjures memories of an idyllic summer for you, too.
24. From a 1997 Entertainment Weekly
Noel orders a beer, the rest opt for lemonades and Cokes. Above us, the TV is on. CNN News. "Have you seen some of the stories they have on here?" Noel enquires. "Check this one I saw this morning. There's this guy who's 75 and he's got cancer. So his doctor tells him he's got about two years to live. So he thinks, 'F*ck it, I've always hated my wife, the stupid bag.' So he kills her. 'What the f*ck, I've got nothing to lose.' Then he's put in jail but, the problem is, he doesn't die. He's 99 now and guess what he's doing?" Noel surveys our expectant faces. "Suing the doctor," he cackles. "He's taking him to court," he continues, pissing himself. "And he's saying, 'If it wasn't for what you told me I would never have killed my wife and now you owe me ten million pounds.' I'm sitting there thinking, 'I know I live in a mad country but it's not half as crazy as it is here.'"
23. "It's a bit weird going to the supermarket -- sometimes you kind of freak people out when you've got four bags of shopping. But you've got to have a real life because if you don't, you end up like Elton John or George Michael. Can you imagine George Michael buying toothpaste and a toothbrush and a newspaper or some lemons?"
22. Gets Paul Weller to ressurrect great Jam B-sides:
21. ...and sounds amazing when harmonizing with Mr. Weller:
20. "[American kids] shouldn't be able to buy records until they're 16. You'll buy any old nonsense — f*cking Britney and Eminem..."
19. "Correct me if I'm wrong, but are they hoping that one of these guys from the G8 is on a quick 15-minute break at Gleneagles and sees Annie Lennox singing "Sweet Dreams" and thinks, 'F*ck me, she might have a point there, you know?' And Keane doing "Somewhere Only We Know" and some Japanese businessman going, 'Aw, look at him… we should really f*cking drop that debt, you know.' It's not going to happen, is it?"
18. Oasis - Shout it Out Loud
Pensive and moody-but-optimistic B-side from the "Stop Crying Your Heart Out" single. Bears absolutely no resemblance to the Kiss song of the same name. And thank God for that.
17. "I'll tell you what - if you go around telling everyone you're the best band in the world, 50 percent of them are going to believe you."
16. Happy to just sit and strum along as Ocean Colour Scene and Paul Weller play Ronnie Lane's "The Poacher":
15. "Phil Collins knows he can't say anything about me because I'm the f*cking bollocks and that's the thing that does his head in. And the fact that he's bald."
14. In February 1995, Noel travels to Manor Studios in Oxford where Paul Weller is recording his Stanley Road
album. When Weller asks if he knows the Dr. John song, "I Walk On Gilded Splinters," Noel says he knows it well, and after determining the key, sets about providing acoustic guitar accompaniment. After the session Weller calls his bluff. "You've never heard that f*cking song in your life, have you?" "Nope, never" replies a sheepish Gallagher.
13. But he is quite adept at handling a Neil Young tune:
12. "Funny thing is, we did this interview in America a few weeks ago and this American fella thought that [the backwards bit at the beginning of "D'You Know What I Mean?"] goes, 'The walrus was Bonehead'! I said, 'You are definitely smoking too much pot if you even think that I might think that Bonehead is even a walrus, never mind the f*cking walrus!'
11. Oasis - Idler's Dream
Anyone who says Noel hasn't got it anymore hasn't been listening to the B-sides for the later albums. Even the lesser singles are still worth picking up for at least one blinding B-side, and this gorgeous piano ballad, from "The Hindu Times" single is almost the Oasis equivalent of the Smiths' "Asleep."
10. "I would hope we mean more to people than putting money in a church basket and saying ten Hail Marys on a Sunday. Has God played Knebworth recently?"
09. Matt Pinfield: "The Stone Roses' debut, of course, is just amazing..."
Noel: (interrupting) "The La's is better."
08. Writes one of his finest songs, "Sad Song," and only includes it on the vinyl edition of Definitely Maybe --
doesn't even have it turn up as a B-side until three years later, and on a Japanese-only single. Yet, still performs it to promote the album and encourage people to buy the vinyl version:
07. "I'd much rather be the Keith Richards character. Who wants to be Mick Jagger? I wouldn't wish it upon my worst enemy."
06. Absolutely impossible not to laugh at this:
05. "Six years ago I thought Eminem was an idiot who could only write songs about his wife and kids. He's still an idiot now if you ask me."
04. Digs the Small Faces (whom I could list as my all time favorite band):
03. "You could say I'm getting along with Liam, but that doesn't mean we'll sit down to have tea. No, we aren't kicking each other in the face, that's all."
02. "And no...I'm not as interested in other people's music as you might think."
01. The number one reason you gotta love Noel Gallagher? Say what you will about "Wonderwall" or "Champagne Supernova." Disagree with his thoughts on contemporaries. Call him an egomaniacal rip-off artist with just second rate talent on guitar and limited scope and songwriting capacity. Slag him off all you like. But at the end of the day, Noel Gallagher wrote "Slide Away."
And when I saw Oasis for the first time on January 17, 1998 at the Rosemont Horizon in Chicago on the Be Here Now
tour, Noel played it during his acoustic spot. I was but 15 years of age, and of all the fabulous concerts I've experienced in my life (Paul McCartney, Lyle Lovett, Ray Davies, Allen Toussaint and Brian Wilson included), it was one of the most defining moments in my life. Thankfully someone captured it on film, and if you listen closely, I'm sure you can hear me gasping in the background:
"I don't know. I don't care. All I know is you can take me there..."