Wait, You’ve Never Heard: Oasis – Definitely Maybe

It feels like I always read negative press surrounding Oasis. This has been going on for the past three or four years now. I seem to remember constant headlines on this site (among others) that state things like, “Gallaghers Hate Each Other, Oasis Calls Quits,” or “Mediocre Hits Collection Causes Break-Up.” In the past four years, I have read about Oasis breaking up quite a few times, and none of those times were at one given point. I would not expect any positive Oasis headlines will pop up next month, but there certainly was a point when good press floated above the band constantly. That point was in 1994.

Over fifteen years ago, Oasis released a little debut called Definitely Maybe, a title that has helped spawn small-town New England emo bands and half-assed romantic comedies. The title itself is a rather interesting linguistic paradox. Definitely is a word showing something is official, like “That party is definitely happening tonight.” And maybe is a word basically meaning that the future is uncertain, such as, “Maybe that party is happening tonight.” Clearly these British rockers were thinking outside the box, and that is, quite frankly, an understatement.

Ten years after this album was released, scored high on the charts, and turned Oasis into some cultural orgasm, they made a documentary expressing how each song off Definitely Maybe came to be, what they were going through upon writing them, etc. The band told a multitude of stories about how they ate lots of acid, lived on an island, and recorded their debut. It was a true story of rock and roll, searching for success and getting lucky as millions of kids from the 90s put that cassette in their stereos. However, in 1994, I was not one of these kids.

My memories of Oasis go back to very early in my childhood. I can recall afternoons listening to “Wonderwall” on the radio as I built Legos. And I definitely bumped (What’s the Story) Morning Glory all the time throughout high school. But in the fall of 2005, I still had never heard the birth of Oasis. That was until my friend Tyler, who has a tendency to call me out on my insufficient music knowledge (so he says), was shocked at the fact I had never heard their song, “Married with Children”, while we sat around being lazy one day after school. “Married with Children” is the album’s closer, a clean, dual-guitar track with tongue-and-cheek lyrics about an obnoxious girlfriend. It was the sonic equivalent of my first time being drunk in the sense that it provoked feelings I could never explain aloud: the melody, the simplicity, Liam’s half-Pistols/half-Beatles sneer and Noel’s guitar. And this was the end of the album? I had to hear the rest…

The rest of the album is equally as fantastic. If Morning Glory is a concept album about dealing with being a famous rock star, then Definitely Maybe is a concept album about trying to get famous (if the title wasn’t a big enough hint already). A kickoff track like “Rock and Roll Star,” proves that. Noel Gallagher would go on to explain that this song was his call to get out of the environment he felt so trapped within (“I live my life in the city/There ain’t no easy way out”). “In my mind/my dreams are real/No one can understand the way I feel,” Liam Gallagher calls out before the first chorus. There was a common debate amongst my friends whether or not Liam is dreaming of becoming a rock star, or he’s on some amazing acid. Oasis was either a group of poetic geniuses, or just describing something everybody in the world thinks. Either way, we ate it up.

The album only gets better and better and better, which upon my first few listens, I did not think was possible, and the prevalent theme of an artist starving for success is shown within the lyrics. Tracks like “Shakermaker”, “Columbia”, and “Up in the Sky” keep the story going. On “Shakermaker”, possibly one of my favorite Oasis tracks ever, Liam sneers one of the most simplistic but universal lines on the album. “I want to be somebody else/And not know where I’ve been.” This showed the world Oasis was as ordinary and down about their situation as the next guy in line. Aside from that, the lyrics reference Mr. Clean, a British record store where the Gallaghers bought records, and singing to oneself in the car to remain happy. “Columbia” is a psychedelic gem and possibly the trippiest song the band ever wrote. “I can’t tell you the way I feel/Because the way I feel is oh so real to me,” Liam sings, over drawling guitars. We still couldn’t tell if he was talking about his dreams or his acid.

The album contains a few of Oasis’s best known tracks as well. “Live Forever”, as I would soon find out, is one of the most popular love songs in the United Kingdom. Noel even says in the documentary that he reads it on countless lists of the best love songs (evidence?), and the melody does indeed conjure up romantic imagery. However, Liam is singing about leaving the girl, while the feelings they shared will live forever. “Maybe I just want to fly/I want to live/Don’t want to die,” he says, showing he wants to spread his wings and (most likely) get famous by rocking. “Cigarettes and Alcohol” is also on the record, by far one of the best and most honest Oasis singles to date. Filled with sarcasm, a fantastic blues riff that grinds your eardrums and a chorus calling to fame (“You gotta make it happen”), it was a sheer sign that these young British musicians were more talented than one would think.

Two songs that do not really follow the formula of the story are “Supersonic,” my absolute favorite track by the band, and “Digsy’s Diner,” a track about their kooky friend who apparently had an obsession with lasagna. “Supersonic”, however, was the point where I became hooked on Oasis. After listening to its surreal lyrics, amazingly catchy solos, and melodically perfect tune once, I quickly put it on repeat and listened to it about a hundred more times. By the end of the day, I knew the whole damn song (lyrically and on guitar). Noel Gallagher would even go on to call this “his favorite Oasis song,” and the fact that he quickly scribbled it down one afternoon in the studio makes it that much more of a success. If you can honestly listen to that song and not get juiced when the chorus comes on, your musical sensory is clearly fucked. As for “Digsy’s Diner,” well, the chorus of that song sums up all my memories of this album. “These could be the best days of our lives/But I don’t think we’d be living very wise.”

And that’s how it was, looking back on it. I was a senior in high school, ready for college, the parties, graduation, and some kick-ass tunes. Oasis’s Definitely Maybe was the perfect album to discover at that point in time. Liam and Noel Gallagher’s songwriting (back then) was truly brilliant, and the songs were unbelievably catchy. When you listen to this album in retrospect, you can totally understand how Oasis blew up in everybody’s face faster than Dre can say “Hell yeah.” It was the call to go out in the world, grow and prosper. It was a call to arms to go off and do some good with our lives. Hell, if it worked for Oasis, it can work for anybody….as long as they don’t loath one another by the end of it all.


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