You Really Got Me gave Ray Davies the flu and Jarvis Cocker would leave himself voicemails when he had ideas. Britain's finest musicians reveal how they penned the world's best hits.
Biggest hit Don’t Look Back In Anger (Oasis), March 1996 – No 1; 24 weeks in chart
Biggest Album Definitely Maybe, September 1994 – No 1; 177 weeks in chart
I once said that I wrote songs ‘for the man who buys the Daily Mail and 20 Bensons every day’. And I meant that at the time. I’d consider myself to be just an average man in the street who’s been blessed with a talent to write songs. I don’t write songs for the Observer or The Guardian, or for the NME or Mojo. I’m not bothered about pushing the envelope. I wanted everyone to like Oasis, not just some people in Oxford, a few people in Hull and a couple of people in Glasgow.
I learned long ago not to go looking for songs. If it comes, it comes; if it doesn’t, it doesn’t. I’m not standing on the runway waiting for the aliens to appear going, ‘Come on.’ It just never happens, does it?
I only listen to music from, or derived from, the 1960s. I’m not interested in jazz or hip-hop or whatever’s going round at the minute; indie rubbish. I don’t listen to avant-garde landscapes and think, ‘I could do that.’ I’m not a fan of Brian Eno. It’s Ray Davies, John Lennon and Pete Townshend for me.
All that Definitely Maybe, Morning Glory, Be Here Now stuff was written while I was still on the dole. I had the chords, the arrangements, the melodies; just bits of lyrics to fill in. You start off writing songs, you’re not sure who’s going to hear them. Then when I tried to write the next batch, I was like, ‘We’ve 20 million fans.’ Then your records become eagerly anticipated and you start going, ‘Umm, I might go to the pub today.’
If you wrote Digsy’s Dinner (from Definitely Maybe) now, The Guardian or the music papers would destroy you. It’s a song about going to someone’s house for lasagne – you only write songs like that when you’re free of inhibitions.
It’s not natural for me to say to my missus, ‘I’m going to the country to write an album.’ That was Be Here Now. I had all the music but not the words. We were starting in two weeks, so I went to some Caribbean island and I thought I’d do it all in two weeks. I listen to those words now and I just cringe. I was heavily into drugs at that point and I just didn’t give a damn.
All the songs I like, they’re not written by songwriters pulling scabs off themselves. I’m not interested in all of John Lennon’s stuff about his mother, because it doesn’t mean anything to me. How can Mother mean anything to anybody apart from John Lennon? It can’t, because he’s singing it about his mother, not mine. The abusive father I had belongs to me. And I wouldn’t want to share any of that or to put it into a song.
‘Slowly walking down the hall’ (from Champagne Supernova) is from either Chigley or Trumpton. Which is the one with the train?