“At the end of the day, you’ve just got to be who you are. We made it to be a stadium band. How, I do not fucking know. Because we’re not stadium rock stars. I genuinely think that people come to an Oasis gig to be with other people at an Oasis gig. We don’t really have to entertain the crowd, they entertain themselves. I like that bit in between the songs where there’s silence, because that’s human atmosphere. There’s that buzz, ‘What are they going to play next?’”
— Noel Gallagher (Q Magazine, Oct. 2008)
As an unabashed fan of Oasis, it should come as no surprise that I love Dig Out Your Soul. I’m in love with the delivery, the details and the drums. The choir, the keyboards and the controlled chaos, all of it thrills me. I have a habit of saying I love it when music goes big, and this is the sort of album that commands attention by way of assault. It differs a fair amount from anything else Oasis has done before, but plenty of people have pointed that out already, including themselves. What’s funny about all the talk ahead of time — all the small teasers and the use of buskers for promotion — is that on the first listen, the album felt both familiar and surprising. I went in knowing so much, and yet I enjoyed it in ways I did not anticipate. Who knew I could get excited about more than one bassline? So much goes on between the music and lyrics, and yet unlike Be Here Now, none of it feels superfluous. They’re proud of their effort, and it shows.
Yes, plenty has already been said about the sound of each song. Track by track breakdowns have appeared in magazines since Spring, and I’m not one to go off dissecting influences, nor do I have a great need to come up with new adjectives to describe how the songs work. They work because they’re good. In fact, some of them are exceptional. Those who want to discredit music because it reminds them of something else should ask themselves the following questions:
What inspires you to do what you do?
How different are you to what has come before?
Music isn’t an intellectual exercise. We press play, we pick up that instrument, we sing along to the radio not because we want to prove how smart and unique we are. We do all those things because we want to feel that music in the very deepest parts of ourselves, to feel that connection between creator and listener. We want the sense that someone feels the same.
Noel Gallagher says they didn’t start writing intending to use religious imagery, that it just managed to thread its way through the album, regardless of the author or their beliefs. I’d say that religion and music are so closely connected, the language is bound to overlap. Music is a faith all its own, whether or not you believe in the big eye in the sky. Music stirs the soul, takes hold of our hearts, gives us a sense of understanding the great and murky corners of life. Name me a religion that does not have its own form of song. We play music when we leave school, when we marry and when we die. Everyone has that song that reminds them of the most important moments in their life.
Musicians are fans first. Musicians become what they are because some song, some group along the way made them say, “This feeling inside me, now I know how to let it out.” If that end result is something that moves people, does it matter if it is derivative? Show me a true original. Show me a song that doesn’t either honor or build upon something that has come before. The question “Where do you get your ideas?” wouldn’t be asked so often if we truly expected every creative venture to be unlike anything else.
Dig Out Your Soul makes the argument for music as faith, that we are a product of history, and how we all need someone in our corner. We need to be stirred, and we need to stir others.
Everything I believe in is telling me I want more
If you carry the lantern, I’ll carry you home
She took my hand and picked me up off the floor
My head’s in the clouds but at least I’m trying
Here’s a song that reminds me of when we were young
I hear your soul song singing from a fire in the sky
I said if you won’t save me, please don’t waste my time
In through locked doors, up to secret floors where we’ve all stood before
I don’t care what they say anymore, all I want is the truth
Space and time and here and now are only in your mind
Sing a song, solider on
The sounds that move me may not move you, and it’s that debate that creates and drives all different types of music. Trying to explain why in an intellectual way is like trying to ‘prove’ faith. You either get it or you don’t. I’ve yet to find God in anything, but I never feel more connected to the world and all that may lie beyond than I do while hearing my favorite songs.
Dig out your heart-stealers, your tear-jerkers, your fist-shakers. Turn them on, turn them loud and never apologize for loving them.