Nearly a decade after they broke up, the conventional wisdom on Oasis (if one wants to use the word “wisdom” when discussing Oasis) was that their first two albums — and the b-sides comp The Masterplan — were masterpieces (true!); their 2000s albums were all duds (false!) and Be Here Now … well, what about Be Here Now, anyways?
Originally hailed as a third consecutive masterpiece, then over time turning into a punchline for exactly the same reasons it was hailed, it seems like a couple of decades down the line that maybe it’s getting rehabilitated again. I do know that, when people realized I was going deep on Oasis, more than one person mentioned Be Here Now as something they wanted me to write about, meaning that there is still a lot of interest in what will remain a talked-about, most controversial album.
Of course, my favorite track from Be Here Now actually points up two of the major problems with it: the songs were too long and the sequencing was whack. As one of Oasis loudest, speediest, most-fuzzed-out songs, “It’s Getting Better (Man!!)” should have been 4:30 max, and stuck somewhere in the middle of the album.
Instead, it clocks in at a nerve-rattling 7:03, and is the final full song on the album, after “All Around The World,” a nine-minute song that was so obviously an album closer that they did a reprise after “It’s Getting Better (Man!!) just so it technically could be the album closer. Coke logic.
That said, I actually saw “It’s Getting Better (Man!!)” as a reward: get through Be Here Now and here’s a noisy near-punk song with a catchy chorus and a galaxy of guitars that you’re just going to eventually put on a mix tape anyways.
Maybe the songs that we sing are wrong
Maybe the dreams that we dream are gone
Bring it on home and it won’t be long
It’s gettin’ better man!
Of course, naturally, there’s a whole long part in the middle where the song comes crashing in on itself, and then Noel takes off with his wah-wah pedal, soloing and soloing and soloing and soloing, because why the hell not? And if that wasn’t enough, they then proceed to repeat the title approximately 457,664 times, with Liam letting the occasional “whooo!” and Noel tossing in some “heys” in for good measure. And of course, there are more guitars than the eye can possibly see, some of which are soloing and others of which are contributing the nerve-rattling white noise that underpins the entire song.
It’s too excessive by half or maybe two thirds, but that was the thing about Be Here Now: once you recognized that excess was what they were going for, it was possible to find beauty in that excess. And so, like the chorus on “D’You Know What I Mean” or the mid-section of “Magic Pie” where Noel is throwing out one of his most melodic solos while the entire U.K. is singing “ahhhhhh” background vocals, the ending of “It’s Getting Better (Man!!)” is exactly the right amount of excess, like the instrumental breaks on “Achilles Last Stand” or the coda of “I Believe,” though it’s not nearly as good as either of those two songs.
In any event, given that it came out the month before Rox & I got married, Be Here Now probably didn’t get as much attention as it should’ve, though there was no doubt that I would put it on during one or more planning trips from Oakland to Fresno, always hoping that maybe it would make sense in the same ways that Definitely Maybe and (What’s The Story) Morning Glory? did. But it never really did, so I stuck my favorite songs on mix tapes and compilations and waited to see what they would do next.
“It’s Getting Better (Man!!)”
“It’s Getting Better (Man!!)” performed live in 1997
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