Barry Egan recalls a lively chat about cocaine with Noel Gallagher almost 20 years ago.
August, 1996, backstage at Pairc Ui Chaoimh in Cork: Noel Gallagher is batting the breeze with me, two hours before he is due to go with his brother Liam and their band in front of 70,000 people.
I asked him what was his view on Oasis as shameless Beatles plagiarists. "I agree with it," he laughed, "most of the time. Because it pisses people off. Everything is derivative of something. Everyone goes on about Oasis not being as innovative as the Beatles but what they fail to realise is up until the album Rubber Soul, the Beatles were derivative of black American music and not being very good at it."
Would he sue over the recent £4,000-a-week-on-cocaine article in the News of the World? "You can't sue over an amount. It's hardly defamation of character, is it?"
Does taking cocaine give your lyrics a new clarity? "I find that when I get really out of my head on drugs," he answered almost academically, " I tend to write songs like Supersonic."
Was Live Forever written on cocaine? "No. Morning Glory is about the mundanity of cocaine conversations, because it's all bullshit at the end of the day. Then you wake up with a bad head and you've solved f**k all. I suppose that directly inspired the line 'chained to the mirror and the razor blade'."
Presumably he'd agree with the saying: 'Cocaine is God's way of telling you you're earning too much money'? "Yeah, I would!" Noel hooted. "But I was doing coke when I was on the dole anyway." How much was he getting on the dole? "About £60 every two weeks." And you're getting about two million for these Cork shows? "Oh, yeah," he smiled.
Almost two decades later, Noel Gallagher is possibly not getting two million for his solo show at the 3Arena in Dublin this Wednesday. The 47-year-old hasn't lost his million-dollar wit. Not least when Noel recollected the "disgusted text" he received from his pal Paul Weller when U2's Songs Of Innocence album came out free on iTunes: "Why do I have their fucking album on my computer? You're a mate of Bono's - you must have known!"
Noel also recalled that when his wife Sara picks up something unpleasant in the kitchen sink, she will admonish him thus, "There is a dishwasher here. Can you not do anything?" To which he will reply: "Can you play the guitar? No, you can't, thank you very much, jog on."
Noel's second solo album Chasing Yesterday is jogging along very nicely, too. My one quibble with the new record is that Noel hides himself in his songs. Intriguingly, in an interview with Sabotage Times in 2013, Noel was asked did having an allegedly violent father contribute to his apparent reluctance to reveal himself in song.
His answer was revealing in a way his lyrics rarely are: "All the songs that I like, they're not written by songwriters pulling the scabs off themselves. All John Lennon's shit about his mother; I'm not interested in it, doesn't mean anything to me. All these songs about personal torment, how can it? How can Mother mean anything to anybody apart from John Lennon? It can't, because he's singing it about his mother, not mine."
"That's just my perception of it. It's never come out in my music because (a) it's nobody's f**king business; and (b) it doesn't make for great music.
"For instance," he continued, "Waterloo Sunset [by The Kinks]. The sun setting at Waterloo Station belongs to everybody. The ... father I had belongs to me. I really wouldn't want to share that or put it into a song."
What Noel has put into song is his apparent nostalgia for Manchester: 'Taking you back to the town where I was born. . .' he sings on While The Song Remains The Same, hinting at a possible move home.
"We did think about it before our second son [Sonny] came along," Noel said recently. "I wouldn't mind. My mum's still there, still in the same house. But I feel sorry for her; some guy shot a woman in the face yesterday in the middle of the street as she begged for her life."
Source: Sunday Independent
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