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Radio X Chilled with James Hall 12am - 1am
13 May 2021, 12:00
One of the classic Oasis songs from (What's The Story) Morning Glory? ...but what are the lyrics about exactly?
Champagne Supernova is one of the many, many Oasis tracks that "should have been a single". It was released as one in the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand in May 1996, but for Britain it remained as one of the highlights of the mammoth (What's The Story) Morning Glory? album.
The song was part of the embarrassment of riches that was Noel Gallagher's songwriting catalogue in the mid-90s. He could afford to stick tracks like Half The World Away and Acquiesce on the b-sides as he was writing instant classic after instant classic.
Noel unveiled the song when the band were touring Europe in November 1994. He explained in 2006: "Just before we went in to record Morning Glory, we were sat on the tour bus in Germany. We'd got to the hotel early, so we sat in the car park.
"Somebody says, have you got any tunes for the new album. So I said, I'll play them for you if you want. I played Cast No Shadow and all that. I played Champagne Supernova in its entirety on acoustic guitar. At the end, I looked up and Bonehead was crying. He said, 'You've not just written that have you?' I was looking at him thinking, you f**king soft lad. Either that or its sh*t."
Ever since the release of the song in 1995, fans have wondered about the lyrics. What exactly is a Champagne Supernova? What does it all mean?
"Some of the lyrics were written when I was out of it," he told the NME in September 1995. "That's probably as psychedelic as I'll ever get. It means different things when I'm in different moods. When I'm in a bad mood being caught beneath a landslide is like being suffocated."
But other inspirations came from Noel's childhood. The memorable couplet "Slowly walking down the hall / Faster than a cannonball" was a memory from kids' TV.
"[It's] about Brackett the butler who used to be on Camberwick Green, or Chigley or Trumpton or something," Noel revealed. "He used to take about 20 minutes to go down the hall. And then I couldn't think of anything that rhymed with 'hall' apart from 'cannonball'.
"So I wrote 'Slowly walking down the hall/ Faster than a cannonball' and people were like, 'Wow, f**k, man'.
Here's an episode from the series Chigley - Brackett begins his slow walk down the hall at 6.30 minutes in.
"There's also the line 'Where were you while we were getting high?' because that's what we always say to each other"
It still rankles with Noel Gallagher today that the random inspirations behind Champagne Supernova aren't appreciated more by music critics. He complained to The Sunday Times in 2009: "This writer, he was going on about the lyrics to Champagne Supernova.
"He actually said to me, 'You know, the one thing that's stopping it being a classic is the ridiculous lyrics'. And I went, 'What do you mean by that?' He said, 'Well, Slowly walking down the hall, faster than a cannonball — what's that mean?'"
Noel replied: "I don't know. But are you telling me, when you've got 60,000 people singing it, they don't know what it means? It means something different to every one of them."
Champagne Supernova. What a song. Liam sings it live now with just his voice and piano and it’s majestic. Noel first played us this on the back lounge of the tour bus in the USA on acoustic. I cried. Again. I’m a cancerean you know.— Paul Arthurs. (@BoneheadsPage) April 4, 2020
As for Bonehead, Champagne Supernova still makes him cry. When the guitarist join The Charlatans' Tim Burgess for one of his Twitter listening parties for (What's The Story) Morning Glory, he re-told the tour bus anecdote and revealed: "I'm crying now. Pure stress," before adding: "I can cry to order you know."
I’m crying now. Pure stress..........— Paul Arthurs. (@BoneheadsPage) April 4, 2020