Is the Oasis ballad Songbird Liam Gallagher's best ever track?
3 February 2024, 12:00
Oasis - Songbird (Official Video)
We celebrate the Liam Gallagher-penned Oasis track by delving into its story and meaning.
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This week marks 21 years since Oasis released their Songbird single on 3rd February 2003.
Taken from the Manchester band's Heathen Chemistry album, Songbird saw Liam Gallagher take on songwriting duties for the first time - ditching all his rock 'n' roll bravado in favour of a delicate two-minute ballad.
Gallagher has since gone on to have a successful solo career, releasing three Number 1 studio efforts in As You Were, Why Me? Why Not. and 2022's C'mon You Know.
It's fair to say the former Oasis rocker has earned a few more writing credits since the 2003 single was released, but does Songbird remain one of his most raw and accomplished works yet? His brother Noel certainly seems to think so...
Here's everything you need to know about the ballad here.
Who is Songbird about?
Songbird was written for Liam Gallagher's then-partner Nicole Appleton, who was a part of '90s and '00s girlband All Saints.
Gallagher and Appleton married in February 2008 and share a son together, Gene, who was born in 2001.
To this day, the lyrics are some of the most vulnerable that Gallagher has ever penned, conjuring Appleton as a winged muse who offers up a love he'd "never felt" before.
"Gonna write a song so she can see/
Give her all the love she gives to me/
Talk of better days that have yet to come/
Never felt this love from anyone"
What was the reception to Songbird?
Songbird is a firm favourite among Oasis fans, peaking at No.3 on the UK singles chart.
Liam's estranged brother Noel has always liked to joke about the length of the track, but speaking in a throwback interview he said: "It's one of our best tunes. It doesn't matter who wrote it."
"I wrote that as a one-off," Liam added. "I was in France in this massive f***ing mansion, doing our album. I went out one day sat under a tree, had a bit of a biblical moment and that was it. Didn't do it to present [to] Noel, I just wrote it.
"It took three minutes and I think I wrote all the words pretty much there and then."
Noel revealed in the interview: "I even have to push to get it into the set because he won't have it. 'Do you think it drags on a bit?' It's two minutes and one second long! What f***ing crazy drugs are you on?"
Watch the clip here, which is taken from their Lock The Box interview from their Stop The Clocks boxset:
Oasis - Noel & Liam about Songbird
Years later Noel has doubled down on his praise of the track, calling it "perfect".
As reported by BANG Showbiz, speaking of the ballad, Noel told Matt Morgan: "I thought Songbird by Liam was great. We did a demo of it and it was more like Love Me Do by The Beatles, It's got a mouth organ on it and it sounds like The Beatles.
"Then we took all the instruments off it and it became this acoustic thing that I think is perfect."
He added: "The ironic thing about that song is that he doesn't even f****** play it now, work that one out, the Ballad of the Mighty I singer mused.
"He's only got one tune and that's it, and he's not playing the f****** tune."
Liam Gallagher's two-minute and eight second love song might last forever in the musical canon, but the relationship it was inspired by certainly didn't.
His marriage to Nicole Appleton broke down after it emerged he'd had fathered a secret love child after a fling with journalist Liza Ghorbani, and the pair divorced in April 2014.
But that's not where the story ends...
In 2016 All Saints reunited and released One Strike as their comeback single.
The track charted the traumatic breakdown of Gallagher and Appleton's marriage and even pinpointed the moment she found out about the news.
"And with one strike/
My world lights up in a fire/
Call it a sign"
All Saints bandmate and chief songwriter Shaznay Lewis told i-D magazine: "It’s about conversations I was having with Nic at the time when she was going through personal things in her life. And as a friend I was just inspired to write about it. I was feeling Nic’s life.
"It’s about a moment. A phone call. The phrase ‘one strike’ is about how your life can just change in one instant. You can be walking down the road, you’ve just left your family at home and everything’s hunky dory, then when you go back home they’re gone."
Watch the video for One Strike here:
All Saints - One Strike
Lewis continued: "On one side of the door your life’s amazing, on the other side it changes just like that."
Nicole’s sister, Natalie, adds of the track: “The first few times I heard it in my car, I couldn’t stop crying because I could hear so clearly what it was about.”
As The Mirror reports, it was revealed in court during their lengthy divorce battle that Nicole Appleton was called on the phone by Gallagher while on holiday to deliver the news of his extra-marital affair and the child which had come about as a result.
Fast forward to October 2017 and Liam Gallagher is preparing to release his debut solo album As You Were.
On its tracklisting is For What It's Worth, a song which seems to see the brazen rock 'n' roll star show his softer side once again.
The track, which was co-written with Simon Jons and produced by Grech-Marguerat, doesn't overtly mention his ex wife, but it does seem to hint at "mistakes" he's made as he apologises for the "hurt" he's caused.
"For what it's worth, I'm sorry for the hurt/
I'll be the first to say, I made my own mistakes"
Watch Liam Gallagher talk about the track here:
Liam Gallagher on For What It's Worth
Speaking to Chris Moyles about the single, he said: "It's a classic man. I guess it's the most Oasis-y song on the album. It's a top tune."
If Songbird isn't the most vulnerable and honest of Liam Gallagher's songs, then perhaps it's now a close second to For What It's Worth, which seems to see Liam admit all the wrongdoings of his past.
Whatever you think of Songbird, it's two minutes of Liam Gallagher in a place we rarely see him; honest, vulnerable and uncharacteristically calm.
If it's not one of his most biblical songs ever, it's certainly up there with the best of them.