Certain Songs #1366: Oasis – “Champagne Supernova”

Album: (What’s The Story) Morning Glory?
Year: 1995

And so it came to pass, that on April 13 1996, Rox, Steph and I journeyed across the Bay Bridge to see Oasis in concert at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium.

As you can imagine, after nearly six months of non-stop playing of (What’s The Story) Morning Glory? we were tremendously excited to see Oasis do their thing in person in a place that wasn’t either a stadium or arena, despite the fact that those were the venues that they were aiming for.

At that point, “Wonderwall” had just finished its run up the pop charts, where it peaked at #8 on March 9, so they were quite possibly at their peak popularity here in the states, and so the pump was definitely primed for a great concert.

Which it most definitely wasn’t.

I dunno why that was: perhaps it was the awful taste left by the opening band, Third Eye Blind, who I instantly hated so viscerally, it didn’t even matter how catchy “Semi-Charmed Life” was when it took over the radio the next year. Perhaps it was the screaming teenagers who pushed their way to the front of the stage, screaming. I think it was just because it seemed like the Gallagher brothers didn’t give a shit. Which I realize has always been part of their personae: Liam staring dead-eyed at the audience during the solos or maybe whacking a tambourine a couple of times, but the whole thing just seemed flat.

One of the songs they did that night — at least according to the setlist — was “Champagne Supernova,” the epic power ballad that closed (What’s The Story) Morning Glory with a supersonic skyrocketing explosion.

How many special people change?
How many lives are living strange?
Where were you while we were getting high?

Slowly walking down the hall
Faster than a cannonball
Where were you while we were getting high?

And while that’s not the only verse in “Champagne Supernova,” it might as well as well have been, as it was sung over and over and over again by Liam Gallagher, and I remember one of my Art & Science colleagues absolutely marveling at the question that kept being asked. Like my colleague thought that asking “where were you when we were getting high?” was the coolest, ballsiest thing than anybody could ask.

But nowhere near as cool and ballsy as the epically massive chorus that at the first blush was quiet and contemplative, but eventually was galaxy-spanning.

Someday you will find me
Caught beneath the landslide
In a champagne supernova in the sky

Someday you will find me
Caught beneath the landslide
In a champagne supernova
A champagne supernova in the sky

And part of the galaxy that was spanned was somehow linking this massive power ballad to The Jam, by inviting modfather Paul Weller to play lead guitar on top of the usual platoon of guitars. I don’t which of the approximately 700 guitar solos at the end are Weller, who also allegedly sang backing vocals, and sure, why not? I’m sure that Noel just wanted to work with one of his heroes, as well as kinda get Weller’s blessing during the whole Blur vs. Oasis thing.

In any event, at 7:28, “Champagne Supernova” was the longest track that Oasis had yet done by nearly a minute, but it was so successful on its own terms — huge, gorgeous and psychedelic as all fuck — that no doubt Noel Gallagher decided there and then that he wanted to make a whole album of songs like it!

“Champagne Supernova” Official Video

“Champagne Supernova” performed live in 1995

“Champagne Supernova” live at Knebworth, 1996 (with John Squire from Stone Roses)

“Champagne Supernova” performed live in 2008

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