Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Oasis 'Live Forever'

Chart Peak: 10


'Live Forever' was Oasis' first UK Top 209 single back in late Summer 1994... It has sold consistently ever since and actually re-entered the Top 75 on 25th February 1996 - indeed, every one of their nine singles was in the chart for this week at Numbers 1, 30, 64, 70, 71, 74, 75, 77 and 79 respectively... big or what!!
To be a bit more precise, 'Don't Look Back In Anger' was, as previously noted, at the top of the chart that week and the other Top 75 positions were as follows:
30. Wonderwall
64. Whatever
70. Cigarettes and Alcohol
71. Supersonic
74. Shakermaker
75. Live Forever
This logically puts 'Roll With It' and 'Some Might Say' in the lowest positions, presumably because those were relatively recent hits which latecomers to the band would have bought at the time. It's probably not insignificant that this was the week after the Brit Awards, where Oasis had picked up three statuettes, but even in more normal times Oasis were notable for their unusually strong catalogue singles sales by 1990s standards, not least because they were unusual in not deleting the singles once they'd dropped out of the chart, instead actively assisting them by keeping the CD versions on the shelves in "3 for £10" offers. It was through such a deal, possibly even at roughly this time, that I acquired my own copy of 'Live Forever', alongside 'Whatever' and 'Cigarettes & Alcohol'. Yes, kids, there was once a time when paying £3:33 each for CD singles was considered a bargain. I did at least have the excuse that I didn't own a copy of the Definitely Maybe album until about ten years later, although I had of course heard it (and been a little underwhelmed, to be honest, although it would be hard not to be such was the euphoria around the album then). There were undoubtedly stand-out tracks though, and 'Live Forever' was one of them, intentionally scheduled as the single immediately before the album when it would make maximum impact.

It is, perhaps the definitive Oasis song, the starting point for their mid-paced, musically simple anthems - debut single 'Supersonic' is not dissimilar but this one was written first. For good or ill it's a style that they returned to time and again over the years, but here it's found in its purest form with the unresolved chord sequence suiting the eternity implied by the lyric and perhaps a neat fit with the slightly hypothetical sentiment. Obviously nobody can live forever, but this is a song partly about ambition (a common theme to their first album, unsurprisingly) and partly about friendship, the lyric "we see things they'll never see" a reference to the shared reference points and in-jokes that people who've known each other for a long time will always develop. The seamless verse-chorus transition and the repeated lyrics almost seem like one of those in-jokes themselves, though of course the song comes over as a different sort of joke in hindsight, after all the infighting among the band over the next fifteen years before they finally split. It's especially ironic that the video shows them burying original drummer Tony McCarroll, who was of course fired in 1995; this gives Oasis the rare distinction of appearing twice on the same Now! album with different lineups, an honour they share with Kajagoogoo. The US video takes a different interpretation of the title, with images of deceased heroes like Marc Bolan, John Lennon (whose childhood home is also pictured on the single sleeve), Jimi Hendrix, Kurt Cobain and Bobby Moore, who may not have been recognised by all the intended audience.

Worth noting, as well, that this is one of the best-produced of all Oasis tracks, particularly in comparison with the rather hesitant original demo version. One thing I always liked about this track was the use of piano - it's not very prominent in the mix but it's an important part of the arrangement and live versions without it never entirely seem to work. It's not often I get to praise Oasis for being subtle, so I'm going to take the chance when I can.

Also appearing on: Now 29, 30, 31, 32, 34, 38, 52, 53, 54, 61, 62
Available on: Anthems Indie

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