Saturday, November 3, 2018

Certain Songs #1359: Oasis – “Rock ‘n’ Roll Star” | Medialoper

Album: Definitely Maybe
Year: 1994

For a while there in the mid-1990s, before they decided to throw their lot in with reality TV, VH1 had show called Four on the Floor, which was basically a Capital Gang or McLaughlin Group type of show, but dealing with the subjects that music writers cared about.

I know, it probably sounds horrible — especially these days — but it was exactly the type of thing I loved back then. Hosted by Anthony DeCurtis, who was kinda ubiquitous for awhile also featured JD Considine (who was most famous for his single-word review of the GTR album in Musician: “SHT”), Vibe’s Scott Poulson-Bryant and freelancer Amy Linden. It was also where I first heard of Oasis.

Look gang, I love Oasis. I’ve always loved Oasis, and I’ll always love Oasis. Call it a character defect, if you want, and add it to the list. And honestly, I was probably onboard with them just from Amy Linden’s description of them as a drunken football hooligan mashup of the Sex Pistols, Beatles and Kinks. Or something like that. So I went out and bought Definitely Maybe in early 1995 and fell in love.

In 1994, starting your album out by declaring that you wanted to be a Rock ‘n’ Roll Star was purely verboten. For most of the 1990s, the single unifying factor of most of our biggest rock stars — your Kurt Cobains, your Eddie Vedders, your Billy Corgans — was that they bitched and moaned about being rock stars. Well FUCK THAT was Noel Gallagher’s take, and through his mouthpiece younger brother and a lyric and melody cribbed from CCR’s “Proud Mary,” they explained why:

I live my life in the city
There’s no easy way out
The day’s moving just too fast for me
I need some time in the sunshine
I’ve gotta slow it right down
The day’s moving just too fast for me

This is all set over multi-tracked guitars with the sustain turned up to forever, creating a droning roar with which Liam Gallagher sneers his vocals — check out “sun-sheeee-iiiiine” — and picking up momentum on the chorus.

I live my life for the stars that shine
People say it’s just a waste of time
Then they said I should feed my head
That to me was just a day in bed
I’ll take my car and drive real far
They’re not concerned about the way we are
In my mind my dreams are real
Now we’re concerned about the way I feel

Tonight I’m a rock ‘n’ roll star
Tonight I’m a rock ‘n’ roll star

And except for a quick bridge near the end where his dreams come true, that’s pretty much all of the lyrics. To me, that was one of the great things about Noel Gallagher’s best songs: like Kurt Cobain, he understood the value of repetition, especially when it came to writing verses. So “Rock ‘n’ Roll Star” has just one verse, repeated unironically, but then hammered into your head because that repetition.

So when the Gallagher brothers harmonize on “Toniiiiiiiiiiight, I’m a rock ‘n’ roll star,” its practically a wish fulfillment: they were so good at how they declared themselves rock ‘n’ roll stars they became rock ‘n’ roll stars.

For the coda, “Rock ‘n’ Roll Star” freaks out with a feedback-laden psychedelic drum-filled noisefest, over which they take the piss from their own dreams — Noel Gallagher was smart enough to know how dumb his ambition was — and nod to the Stones by singing “It’s just rock ‘n’ roll” over and over again until the song just collapses in on itself.

“Rock ‘n’ Roll Star”

“Rock ‘n’ Roll Star” performed live on Jools Holland

“Rock ‘n’ Roll Star performed live in Manchester

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