Today, Wonderwall is known as one of those songs you know you’re going to hear when a guy shows up to the party with an acoustic guitar. Many people—at this point—think it gets overplayed, but the beautiful sentiment of this track is more than worth your time. In this article, we’ll dive into the meaning and history of the song Wonderwall by Oasis.
History and Success of “Wonderwall”
Oasis released Wonderwall in 1995 as part of their second studio album (What’s The Story) Morning Glory? It would top the charts in several countries and break into the top 20 in many more. It was frankly one of the biggest reasons why the album earned a sextuple-platinum certification in Britain.
It’s gotten so many accolades over the years that it shouldn’t be surprising that there are a ton of cover versions of the track out there. Everyone from Cat Power to Ryan Adams has done a version of it. It has even surpassed one billion streams on Spotify, becoming one of the first songs from the 90s to achieve that feat.
One of the best examples of melodic pop in the music industry, it has been named one of the greatest singles of all time, for good reason. It’s incredibly successful commercially and very popular among fans.
In 1997, Wonderwall earned two Grammy nominations, one for Best Rock Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group and one for Best Rock Song. While it won neither, the track definitely laid down the foundation for a long-lasting legacy.
This is the song that made them famous internationally. While they have always been known for their rock numbers and are a huge band in and out of England, this was the track that put them on most people’s maps. Unfortunately, it’s a shame since the band hates it and finds it cringy.
According to Noel Gallagher, “…it annoys the fuck out of me,” and Liam Gallagher has gone as far as saying “Every time I have to play that song I gag.” That didn’t change the fact that Wonderwall largely pushed the album to become the second-best-selling album in British history.
Meaning of “Wonderwall”
When you’re as far down as you can get and depressed, sometimes you just wish someone could come to save you. Now, whether or not it would work is a different story, but you want some outside help to get you out of your funk.
Wonderwall dives into that kind of topic, though in this case, the friend coming to save you is imaginary.
Noel Gallagher was the writer of the song. Most people generally consider the track as his message to himself. At the time of writing, he was out of work and down on his luck, with the song serving as a message to basically just cheer up and suck it up. But he eventually confirmed this meaning with Select magazine.
He would later explain in an interview that the song had no true inspiration. According to him, the meaning was “taken away from me by the media” and “how can you tell the missus a song isn’t about her when everybody else told her it was?”
He then went on to explain that the song is “about an imaginary friend who’s gonna come to save you from yourself.”
It’s a beautiful sentiment, as sometimes we are our own worst enemies. No matter what we’re struggling with, sometimes we fall into habits that perpetuate a cycle or just make things worse. If you’re isolated, there isn’t anyone who is going to come in and give you that wake-up call. In Wonderwall, it’s an imaginary person coming in to save the day.
This is and was a vulnerable statement from a band that normally played harder-rocking material. It’s a song full of carefully-chosen lyrics that put a specific person—real or imaginary—on the highest pedestal possible. That’s what made the track so popular; it was the beautiful sentiment that said it all in just a few words. Instead of “I love you,” calling someone your “Wonderwall” became a popular way to express feelings.
Fun Tidbits About “Wonderwall”
Wonderwall has no shortage of cover artists out there, but did you know Jay-Z was one of them? After he was included in the lineup for the Glastonbury Festival in 2008, Noel Gallagher complained about the rap artist’s inclusion because it typically only allowed rock acts. Jay-Z performed a few minutes of Wonderwall to open his set, singing it poorly and mocking it in response to Gallagher’s complaints.
This track was originally titled “Wishing Stone.” Noel Gallagher stated it came from a girl he took back to a hotel room that insisted he took this lucky rock in her pocket. It stayed that way for quite a while, at least until he discovered George Harrison’s Wonderwall Music album. He was obsessed with The Beatles, so he immediately changed the name because it gave the song a connection to his idols.
Just as much as Wonderwall was a change for Oasis in music style, so too changed the instruments. While a Gibson guitar was almost always used for the band’s tracks, they swapped guitars for the song, making use of a Fender Telecaster instead.
As a contributing writer for Music Grotto, Dakotah writes and produces professional music/media content. He works closely with editorial staff to meet editorial standards and create
quality content for the Music Grotto website. Dakotah is passionate about music in a wide variety of genres, from hip-hop to country and lo-fi to metal, and he enjoys creating music pieces for Music Grotto.