Thursday, December 13, 2012

A Dispensable Single That Feels Like Anything But: Oasis’s “Don’t Go Away!”

The Good: Three great songs, presented very well, Great lyrics, Nice voices
The Bad: One dud, Short - it's a single
The Basics: While only four tracks, the single "Don't Go Away" is distinctive enough to be added to anyone's rock collection.

"Don't Go Away" was the song that got me into Oasis. Seeing the music video, which was chock full of allusions to Rene Magritte (my favorite visual artist) cemented my interest in Oasis, a band I had been interested in, but never purchased anything by. At the time "Don't Go Away" was being played on the radio, the single was near-impossible to find (it was a Japan-only single release). Instead, I had to buy Be Here Now, which absolutely blew me away. The rest, as they say, is history. I'm a fan of Oasis (though I admit their last album was pretty shaky) and as a result, I've been slowly accumulating every possible recording I can by them, so long as it has new material that I don't already have. This led me to buy the single "Don't Go Away."

"Don't Go Away" is a single that has four tracks. The title track, from Be Here Now, a live version of "Cigarettes And Alcohol," the song "Sad Song" - which was previously only available on the Australian release of Definitely Maybe, and the Warchild Version of "Fade Away." There are any number of good things one may say about this four-track disc, but at the end of the day, it is only four tracks. What makes it worth the effort of hunting this disc down?

First, "Don't Go Away" is a truly great song. Backed by an orchestra, Oasis sings of loss and love, pleading for the subject to not leave. Conflicted and moody, it is some of Noel's best writing. The refrain, eloquently delivered by Liam, begs, "Don't go away / Say what to say / Say that you'll stay / Forever and a day / In the time of my life / 'Cause I need more time / Yes I need more time / Just to make things right." When the brothers Gallagher beg, they aren't begging for love, they're pleading for the opportunity to love, to make the relationship better. At least that's what their art portrays and it's a universal theme that makes for an awesome song.

It's completely refreshing to hear a rock and roll song that uses more than guitar and bass or piano. When was the last time you heard a French horn and a cello in a pop-rock song?! "Don't Go Away" rocks with untraditional instruments.

"Cigarettes And Alcohol" I could do without. This live version adds nothing to the song, save possibly making Liam sound even more bored, which fits the song. There are so many better Oasis songs that when the group comes back to this one, I'm always disappointed. Only a real die hard Oasis fan who feels they must have everything Oasis ever recorded is likely to find this track worthwhile.

Far more interesting is "Sad Song," which has a title that pretty much says it all. "Sad Song" is a lament on apathy with the casual refrain, "We're throwing it all away / At the end of the day." The narrator of the song is lost, trying to be supportive for another person and asking only that they be allowed to sing about their circumstances. Every day is the same and the track evokes melancholy.

This is a stripped down track that wisely uses little production. Vocals and guitars come together to create a rather sparse sound that helps keep the song sounding like what the lyrics are saying. It's an empty song and it's one that is wonderful to listen to on a rainy day with a cup of cocoa wrapped in your fingers.

The final track is a new version of "Fade Away," that features Warchild and Johnny Depp (yes, the actor!) on the guitar. The vocals are more upbeat than the original and the feminine accompaniment gives the song a very different feel. This is a decent recasting (not quite a reimagining) of the song.

"Fade Away" is a song about the loss of dreams as one moves from childhood into adulthood. The Warchild version presented on "Don't Go Away" makes the sentiment of losing dreams as a transition into adulthood seem more like a collective experience with the presence of the additional vocals. There is a male and female voice added to the mix, creating many voices harmonizing which has the net effect of making the lyrics of the song into an expression of a universal experience. There is no better Oasis song to make this change with.

The reason this is almost an indispensable single for Oasis fans and the general population is that all of the tracks are either difficult or impossible to get elsewhere. While Be Here Now is widely available (and ought to be bought!), "Don't Go Away" remains one of Oasis's strongest, yet most underrepresented singles. For those who have not heard it, this single is great for those who are noncommittal to Oasis (it may act as an incentive to give a full album a chance). This disc, short as it is, gives the listener the chance to understand the staying power of Oasis; it's the lyrics. The writing of Noel Gallagher is poetry and the tracks on "Don't Go Away" illustrate that quite well.

Moreover, this is a very consistent single. Track to track, the feeling throughout "Don't Go Away" is constant. This is not an uplifting listen, but it's a deep one. And it's worth the time of anyone who truly loves rock and roll and its potentials.

The best track is "Don't Go Away," the worst is the live rendition of "Cigarettes And Alcohol."

For other Oasis works, please check out my reviews of:
Definitely Maybe
"Whatever" (Single)
(What's The Story?) Morning Glory
“Wonderwall” (single)
“Don’t Look Back In Anger” (single)
Be Here Now
The Masterplan
Familiar To Millions
Heathen Chemistry
Don't Believe The Truth
Stop The Clocks
Dig Out Your Soul


For other music reviews, please visit my Music Review Index Page for an organized listing of all the albums and singles I have reviewed!

© 2012, 2007 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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