Song 154: Oasis, “Don’t Look Back In Anger” (1996)


For a while there, Oasis’s hubris was justified. They were damn good at just about everything: songwriting, singing, playing. Their style has never been showy, but it never needed to be, and they never pretended otherwise.

I’ve never been a massive Oasis fan, but (What’s the Story) Morning Glory is one of my favorite records. There’s some real flashes of brilliance on this thing, especially the perfect “Don’t Look Back In Anger.” I liked “Wonderwall” just like everybody else, but when this song was released as the second single,  I was convinced that they really were the heirs apparent to Lennon and McCartney (an opinion that only lasted for this song, but still, that’s one more song than most people).

I ramble a lot on this blog about melodies and arrangements, but, well, I’m about to do it again. The melody here is very simple, but I think it’s really pretty (a word that I’m sure the Gallagher brothers would rather I didn’t use). The chords to the verses and chorus (that is, everything but the pre-chorus) use the old progression from Pachelbel’s “Canon in D,” which has been used in everything from Blues Traveler’s “Hook” to Aerosmith’s “Cryin'” and “The Luckiest” by Ben Folds (who said he purposely used that progression to make the listener think of “Canon” and its use in weddings). The progression is used over and over again because, like the chords in a 12-bar blues, it works. Why not dig it up once again, especially if you’re trying to emulate artists from years past?

Though nobody suspected it at the time, Morning Glory was Oasis’s last piece of global domination. Be Here Now did well commercially, but it was too cocaine-addled and ego-driven to hold water. The Gallaghers are still famous, of course, and they always will be. But this song, and the others on its damn fine record, marked the last time that status was warranted.


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