I wrote last week about the incident with Simon and Bruno and how a small deposit by our dog caused the robot vacuum cleaner to “clog” up, resulting in a replacement being bought. I wrote about it because it was an amusing, possibly self deprecating story. I told it to a few people on Tuesday night when I went to Harlow to meet up for an evening of reminiscing about the glory glory days of Tye Green Cricket Club. I got the reaction I expected – affectionate laughter. I spoke to my sister on the phone last night when we had a catch up. She laughed in all the right places, found the story amusing, expressed sympathy for the yukkiness of cleaning up a machine covered in dog excrement and was altogether charming. But….
I’ve started Season Three of “Succession”. It’s a very unusual programme for me to like because normally I like to be able to identify with one of the leading characters in a drama. I need someone to “root for”, to feel sad when things go wrong for them and to feel happy when they triumph in the end. In “Succession”, everyone is cunning, scheming, unpleasant and untrustworthy. The story revolves around the aging head of a large media corporation who is about to step down and name his successor. He has four children and there is lots of sibling rivalry as they all jostle to be named as the new CEO of the family business. For some reason, I find the passive aggression of the sibling rivalry to be amusing and fascinating. Of course, it’s a slickly produced American drama series, beautifully filmed and brilliantly acted so it’s entertaining. But it’s not the sort of thing I normally watch.
Sibling rivalry can be caused by a lot of factors. The wonderfully titled “momjunction” website states that causes of sibling rivalry include 1) the changing nature of relationships with parents when a younger sibling is born; 2) a requirement to express individuality and not copy an older sibling; 3) jealousy when one sibling sees another being the centre of attention, if only for a small time; 4) an inability to express feelings verbally resulting in physical fighting; 5) copying parental behaviour. To overcome sibling rivalry as an adult, “Psychology Today” recommends 1) acknowledge the different relationships that siblings have with parents; 2) change your own behaviour to move a sibling out of a competitive rut; 3) acknowledge that sibling rivalry may stem from insecurity; 4) instigate an honest conversation with a sibling about childhood. Mmm. Okay.
After speaking to my sister last night on the phone, I felt overwhelmed with sibling rivalry. I felt that opening myself up to “ridicule” from my sister had been a mistake. I’m very happy to tell the story to anyone else because it’s funny and I don’t feel that others will mock me. For some deep-seated reason, I regret appearing to be judged as a fool by my older sister. This is nothing to do with her and everything to do with me. Opening up about deficiencies in my personality to everyone else is fine but to do so with my sister is difficult. She has no idea that I write a blog which is full of such stories. I need to start another blog, just for my sister, in which I boast of all my achievements and never express a moment’s doubt about anything I have ever done. (It wouldn’t be very big). Insecurities from my childhood surfaced last night when I opened myself up.
When Oasis toured the USA in 1994, Liam Gallagher would frequently change the words to the songs his brother, Noel Gallagher, had written. He did this to be offensive to both the American public and his brother. During a gig in Los Angeles, after the band made several drug-induced mistakes on stage, Liam Gallagher hit Noel Gallagher across the head with a tambourine. During the recording sessions for “What’s The Story (Morning Glory)” in 1995, Noel Gallagher needed to work on a song so Liam Gallagher went to a pub and subsequently brought a lot of people into the studio, disturbing Noel Gallagher, who hit his brother over the head with a cricket bat. In 1996, Liam Gallagher backed out of a recording for MTV Unplugged and when Noel Gallagher took all the lead vocals, he heard his brother continually heckling him from a balcony. In 2009, Noel Gallagher said that his brother was “rude, arrogant, intimidating and lazy. He’s the angriest man you’ll ever meet. He’s like a man with a fork in a world of soup.” And yet, from such a complex relationship, Oasis made some great music in the Nineties.
Oasis’ main inspiration was the music of The Beatles. Most of their songs sound like “Rain”. The rivalry between John Lennon and Paul McCartney has often been likened to that between brothers. The rivalry between them provided an artistic motivation to raise their game. John Lennon wrote “Strawberry Fields Forever” so Paul McCartney wrote “Penny Lane”. Paul McCartney wrote “Rocky Racoon” so John Lennon wrote “The Continuing Story Of Bungalow Bill”. Paul McCartney wrote “Too Many People” so John Lennon wrote “How Do You Sleep?” If many artistic heights are reached through pain, sibling rivalry can be very motivating.
“Be Here Now” has sold over 8 million copies. and was the fastest selling album in British Chart history. Liam Gallagher has rated it as Oasis’ best album. Jon Savage has pinpointed the release of the album as the moment when Britpop movement ended. It has a very dense sound and on some songs, ten identical guitar parts are overdubbed to create a claustrophobic mood. There are 12 tracks on the album and the running time is 71 minutes. A 2016 reissue includes two further discs of B-sides and demos and the total running time is extended to 225 minutes.
“Don’t Go Away” was beautifully covered by Kate Rusby on “Philosophers, Poets And Kings” The original recording by Oasis manages to combine sadness with a full rock sound. Noel Gallagher said “It’s a very sad song about not wanting to lose someone you’re close to.” Liam Gallagher claims to have cried when recording the song. “I just thought ‘fuck that, I can’t be singing this song’ and I had to go away and sort myself out”.
One of the great things about Oasis is Noel Gallagher’s lack of guile. He is quite happy to name a song “Wonderwall”, despite (or because of) it being the name of the first solo Beatles album (by George Harrison). “Don’t Look Back In Anger” references a John Osborne play. “Stand By Me” was a great song by Ben E. King but Oasis shamelessly steal the title for a standout song on “Be Here Now”. Released as a single, it reached Number Two in the U.K. Charts in September 1997. The first line is “Made a meal and threw it up on Sunday” which, allegedly, was what happened to Noel Gallagher after his mother repeatedly phoned him to ensure he was eating properly. This resulted in him cooking a Sunday lunch which caused him to get food poisoning. “It was back to Pot Noodles after that”.
“All Around The World” is over nine minutes long and, when it reached Number One in the U.K. Charts in January 1998, it became the longest song ever to reach The Top. Here is what Noel Gallagher said about it “The lyrics are teeny-poppy. But there are three key changes towards the end. Imagine how much better ‘Hey Jude’ would have been with three key changes towards the end.” And that sums Oasis up for me. I simultaneously love their confidence and abhor their arrogance. The music is, of its kind, perfect.