Usually, it takes about ten or so years until an album is considered a memorable classic. That wasn’t the case for Oasis’s third studio project, Be Here Now. Initially, after a few successful hits in both Britain and the U.S. (the monster track “Wonderwall” being one of them), the iconic duo of brothers Noel and Liam Gallagher had their most hyped-up record in 1997. But after the hype died down, critics were pretty harsh on the album’s aesthetic, saying that it was overproduced, and a little too extensive.
While a number of these tracks do run over five minutes long, I’m always a believer in letting the artist have free will when it comes to creative expression. As long as the song is well thought-out, calling it too long is an unfair criticism.
Even with the seemingly expanded length, the Gallagher brothers created a sense of urgency on Be Here Now in which I believe jumpstarted the millennial mindset before the 2000s even started. Known for his outlandish comments and continuing inability to speak before thinking, Noel specifically brought this punk rock vibe to a majority of the tracks here. That same vibe is what would lead to the memorable lyrics, guitar riffs, and fascinating topics of discussion from the famous Brits.
I think what made this specific record so intriguing was, learning about how each single was comprised and created. It’s almost as if you can’t listen to any of these songs without watching an interview with Noel about his thought process. You start to realize how subtle some of the inspirations really were.
For example, on the love ballad “The Girl in the Dirty Shirt,” Noel said that he wrote the lyrics based on witnessing his then girlfriend ironing a dirty shirt before one of their concerts. As odd as that sounds, the single itself is actually one of the more genuine and catchy tunes on the entire album. Noel had this sweet side to him which is something that rarely comes out in public.
Probably the oddest thing to come out of the recording of this album was, the Johnny Depp appearance on the song, “Fade In-Out.” For a Hollywood movie star, he didn’t do that bad of a job playing the Slide Guitar ( he’s still better at acting though). He surprisingly meshed well with the rest of the mixing.
The criticism of the so-called “overproduction” on this record never really bothered me. It was said that the Gallagher brothers were at each other’s throats throughout many recording sessions, and you can see that within the first few tracks at least. I loved the sense of urgency on display; it’s almost as if Noel was fighting Liam’s vocals with the instrumentals. While many Oasis fans may have found this annoying, I thought it was interesting to see both of their mindsets illustrated in their musical style, especially on the songs “D’You Know What I Mean” and “Magic Pie.”
I appreciate Noel’s awareness of how much of a loudmouth he could be on the forceful and straightforward track, “My Big Mouth.” As someone who has said questionable comments in interviews and has bashed the legendary Radiohead before (he once claimed that Thom Yorke could “shit in a light bulb and still get a 9/10”), at least Noel understands his unlikable approach to certain situations and the consequences that come with his actions.
I just think that Noel and Liam are pretty self-conscious and self-aware in general on this project. And although many may find this duo immature at times, the second half of the record really shows their vulnerability and imperfections. “Don’t Go Away” has been rumored to be about a cancer scare that the brothers’ mother had while they were recording the album. It’s a beautiful ode to an important person in their lives.
On the other hand, it’s quite amusing to see the hilarity that went into the creation of these songs. “Magic Pie” was created because Noel misread “magpie” in the dictionary, and as a result, the title came out to be the one mentioned above. On the title track, some of the music was recorded on a plastic piano that they acquired from one of Mick Jagger’s kids while on vacation.
Not too many times in the industry do we see this type of quirkiness and uniqueness involved within an entire project. Noel and Liam Gallagher for sure brought this perfect storm of interesting personalities mixed with genius songwriting. It’s definitely safe to say that there aren’t too many albums where the music is just as entertaining as the backstories behind them.
Yeah, Be Here Now has lost some of its steam twenty years later, but at the time, it was an impeccable record for the turn of the millennium.