David Fleming
It's All Academic   www.davidflemingsite.com   
Day 350: Oasis (Whatever)

May 17, 2024

I retired this week. Never in a million years did I think that date would come before completion of this song series (I can hear a few nay-sayers in my ear). By deciding upon retirement now, after 349 artists and songs, I have few artists to associate with that feeling. I already did Johnny Paycheck; there are lines from any number of Bob Dylan songs that I could have built this blog around. Heck, if there is any moment that deserves a Morrissey or Aimee Mann reference, it would have to be retirement.

Alas, they are all spent, poker chips I have already tossed on the table. As I go for the big final bet, I am left with Oasis, rather shocking in many ways, as I have never been a big Oasis fan.

However, my favorite of their songs, released in 1994 right as I was starting my post-graduate career at Davenport University 30 years ago, has emerged as apt today. For the first time in a long time, I do feel free to be whatever, do whatever, say whatever I want.

I'm free to be whatever I whatever I choose/

And I'll sing the blues if I want/

I'm free to say whatever I whatever I like/

If it's wrong or right, it's alright.

That's a pretty inspiring opening stanza, especially since we know it is a rather trite statement for most of us. I suppose only brat rock and roll musicians are the only working-class stiffs who can write or sing that. (David Byrne once noted about his Talking Heads' song "Heaven," that only a rock star would envision heaven as a place where nothing happens. I wish more rock and pop stars did such self-reflection.) There's also incredible irony that Noel Gallagher was not able to write "whatever" he chose, as he got sued by Neil Innis (from The Rutles) for nicking a musical portion of an Innes song. Oasis settled and now Innes' name is listed as a co-writer. Given The Rutles were a conscious effort to nick from The Beatles, and Gallagher openly worshipped The Beatles, the beauty in all this is fantastic. Maybe we never are free, whatever we think. Maybe we are one big Beatles tune, as implied by James on their latest, Yummy.

But, I digress (I wonder how many times I have written that over these 350 blogs): for this moment in time, I believe I have such freedom, especially when in the second stanza, Gallagher writes "you're free to be wherever you wherever you please/you can shoot the breeze if you want."  (O.k., in retrospect, I have always hated that line about "shooting the breeze." It comes across as lazy and pretty banal, since last I heard, conspiracy theorists aside, people can always "shoot the breeze").

In addition, let's face it, the heavy, heavy reliance on strings also fits someone heading off into retirement. Is there any more of an old person instrument that a violin, viola, or cello? (My apologies to the fine young artists in the SMC bands that play those instruments flawlessly. My reference here is a metaphorical one. Go complain about me to your Director of Bands.) I am not criticizing them, but when the genre is rock and roll, the use of strings that aren't on a guitar can be seen as pretty mature in what is often an immature medium (don't make me go into the Gallagher brothers' rivalry). It doesn't hurt that Gallagher's electric guitar and Paul Arthurs' acoustic guitar firmly entrench the song in rock and roll. One of the reasons I loved this song is the way the acoustic guitar gets the song going, and then Gallagher's electric guitar weaves throughout the strings and orchestral arrangements, acting as a undercurrent to the symphonic pop of the rest of the song. There was something majestic in those early Britpop releases.

The beauty of retirement is that I do have time to do whatever I want. Maybe I will finally dig deeper into Britpop to see if Oasis stole from the Boo Radleys or the other way around, especially with these epic swirling songs where the guitar relentlessly lurks underneath the main melody. Both bands were signed by Creation, with the Radleys getting their first album out about 2 years before Oasis, who certainly benefited from more popularity (see Day 13 for some observations as to why The Boo Radleys may have stuck too closely to their name).

Still, I could use a good cause for retirement. Maybe I get the Radleys a settled plagiarism lawsuit with Neil Gallagher.

Oasis. "Whatever." Stand-alone single. Creation, 1994. Link here.

Day 349: St. Vincent "The Power's Out"

Day 351: Alan Parsons Project "I Wouldn't Want To Be Like You"

See complete list here.