How Live Forever became Liam Gallagher's favourite Oasis song
5 April 2021, 18:56
It's the song that masde Oasis - but here's how Noel Gallagher came to write the anthem.
Released on 8 August 1994, Live Forever was the third single from Oasis, hitting the shops just before the arrival of the generation-defining debut album, Definitely Maybe. It's one of the huge milestones in Liam Gallagher's musical career and he still sings it to this day.
In 2019, Radio X decided to ask the Oasis legend some of the Most Googled Questions that people search for.
One popular query was: “What is Liam Gallagher’s favourite Oasis song?”
Liam’s answer is short and to the point: “Live Forever”.
But why does this early entry into the Oasis songbook have such a place in Liam's heart? How did Noel Gallagher come to write the song in the first place?
The Live Forever story starts back in 1991 when Noel was working at a builder’s merchants. After hurting his foot in an accident, young Gallagher was given a job in the storeroom, where he would spend his hours daydreaming and coming up with songs.
At this point, Noel had nothing to do with his brother’s band. He told Blender magazine in 2007 that he had been inspired by the track Shine A Light from the 1972 Rolling Stones album Exile On Main Street.
“It was the bit that goes, ‘May the good lord shine a light on you,’” he remembered. The song didn’t progress the line “Maybe, I don’t really want to know…”, but by the time Noel had gatecrashed Liam’s band, he had worked the idea up into a full song - and the rest of Oasis were impressed.
Noel lyrics were a response to the whole downbeat and negative attitude that was then prevalent in grunge music, particularly those of Kurt Cobain, writing for Nirvana.
“It struck me that this fucker, an extremely talented guy, had everything I wanted,” Gallagher explained. “He was rich, he was famous, he was in the greatest rock and roll band of its time — and he’s writing songs saying he hates himself and wants to die! My way of thinking was, Well, I fuckin’ love myself, and I’m gonna live forever, man!”
The track was one of the songs that made Alan McGee sign Oasis to Creation Records after the label boss saw the band play at King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut in Glasgow on 31 May 1993.
When Oasis recorded Live Forever, producer Owen Morris cut the guitar intro in favour of a drum beat and slashed Noel’s guitar solo in half, but the editing was effective. The song itself is devastatingly effective: the verses move from G to D to Am7, before scooting quickly through C and back to D. The song ends in a different key to the one it starts in - from a bright G major to a ponderous A minor which, as Bonehead says, means “that song could keep going”.
Released in August 1994 as a teaser to the band’s debut album Definitely Maybe, Live Forever made Number 10 in the UK singles charts - and from then on, there was no stopping Oasis.
In recent years, Live Forever has taken on an element of strength and defiance well beyond any intention that Noel Gallagher ever had.
Following the terror attack on Manchester in May 2017, which saw 22 people die after a gig by US pop star Ariana Grande in the city, Liam Gallagher performed the song with Coldplay's Chris Martin at the One Love Manchester tribute show the following week.
It soon became a fixture on Liam’s solo setlist, with the star often performing it acapella. He played a moving version at the 2018 BRIT awards when Ariana Grande could not attend due to illness, and gave an amazing rendition to a handful of listeners at an exclusive show on the roof at Radio X.