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The true meaning of “Wonderwall,” the song that Oasis can’t stand

Por: Gabriela Castillo3 de agosto de 2022

The world thinks it’s a love song written to Noel Gallagher’s ex-wife, but he denied that after their divorce. So, who was it written for?

In 1995 Oasis released one of the most important albums of their discography: What’s the Story (Morning Glory). Among three other songs that became instant classics, “Some Might Say”, “Roll With It” and “Don’t Look Back in Anger”, came the fourth single: “Wonderwall.” Today, almost 30 years later, the song has become some sort of a joke as the one hit your friend with the acoustic guitar plays at parties at the slightest provocation. “Anyway, here’s ‘Wonderwall’” (or “Well then, here’s ‘Wonderwall’”) is the phrase that accompanies the intro of the nineties song.

But before that, “Wonderwall” was an anthem. It is one of the most important songs of the 90s (and of the 20th century). Thousands of people around the world have dedicated it to their significant others, and hundreds of bands have covered it: from high school guitar players to Ryan Adams. However, few know its true meaning: although most believe it is a romantic love song, Noel Gallagher says it’s not the case.

What is the meaning of “Wonderwall?”

The original name of the song was “Wishing Stone.” Noel Gallagher, the band’s guitarist, has said that he composed it after spending a night with a girl he met after a concert in Glasgow. She was carrying a stone in her pocket, a kind of amulet, and gave it to him, who immediately thought of lyrics for a song about a magic stone, an object that brings you luck or a “something” you hold on to in life.

Gallagher decided to change the name to “Wonderwall” influenced by George Harrison and Wonderwall Music, his debut solo album. “Wonderwall” represents someone who will save you from yourself, and for its composer, it was a way to connect his work with that of The Beatles.

Some say that Noel Gallagher wrote it for his then-girlfriend, Meg Mathews, a publicist who worked closely with Oasis. And he said so in an interview with NME in 1996. However, years later, he retracted it and, in 2002, said that it had all been a misinterpretation by the media: “The meaning of that song was stolen from me by the media who pounced on it. And how do you tell your wife it’s not about her once she read about it?” When they divorced, Gallagher no longer cared about keeping the true origin to himself and spilled the beans.

Why does Noel Gallagher hate “Wonderwall?”

The version we all know has Liam Gallagher on vocals. His brother gave him a choice between “Wonderwall” and “Don’t Look Back in Anger:” one would be sung by Noel and the other by Liam. The latter got “Wonderwall”, although he didn’t love the song: he sang it without desire and feeling, at least without the feeling Noel imagined when he wrote the lyrics.

In 2001, Ryan Adams did a cover of the song that would be part of the album Love is Hell from 2004. Noel Gallagher has listened to that song very carefully and has declared, without fear of what his brother thinks, that Adams is the only one who has sung “Wonderwall” as it should be. He never liked Liam’s interpretation and has even said that Ryan Adams can keep it, that it is his.

From Ryan Adams’ version, Oasis changed their version and started playing it this way in their 2008 tour concerts. At the closing ceremony of the 2012 Olympics, Liam Gallagher performed the song with his band Beady Eye. His brother Noel, of course, made fun of that: at a later concert, he dedicated the same song to “Stratford’s best Oasis tribute band,” a clear dig at Beady Eye.

Lyrics: “Wonderwall” by Oasis

Today is gonna be the day that they’re gonna throw it back to you

And by now, you should’ve somehow realized what you gotta do

I don’t believe that anybody feels the way I do about you now

And backbeat, the word is on the street that the fire in your heart is out

I’m sure you’ve heard it all before, but you never really had a doubt

I don’t believe that anybody feels the way I do about you now

And all the roads we have to walk are winding

And all the lights that lead us there are blinding

There are many things that I would like to say to you, but I don’t know how

Because maybe

You’re gonna be the one that saves me

And after all

You’re my Wonderwall

Today was gonna be the day, but they’ll never throw it back to you

And by now, you should’ve somehow realized what you’re not to do

I don’t believe that anybody feels the way I do about you now

And all the roads that lead you there were winding

And all the lights that light the way are blinding

There are many things that I would like to say to you, but I don’t know how

I said maybe

You’re gonna be the one that saves me

And after all

You’re my Wonderwall

I said maybe (I said maybe)

You’re gonna be the one that saves me

And after all

You’re my Wonderwall

I said maybe (I said maybe)

You’re gonna be the one that saves me (saves me)

You’re gonna be the one that saves me (saves me)

You’re gonna be the one that saves me (saves me)

Story originally published in Spanish in Cultura Colectiva


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