Don't Look Back in Anger

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"Don't Look Back in Anger"
Single by Oasis
from the album (What's the Story) Morning Glory?
Released19 February 1996
RecordedMay 1995
StudioRockfield, Monmouth, Wales
Songwriter(s)Noel Gallagher
Oasis singles chronology
"Don't Look Back in Anger"
"Champagne Supernova"
(What's the Story) Morning Glory? track listing
12 tracks
  1. "Hello"
  2. "Roll with It"
  3. "Wonderwall"
  4. "Don't Look Back in Anger"
  5. "Hey Now!"
  6. Untitled
  7. "Some Might Say"
  8. "Cast No Shadow"
  9. "She's Electric"
  10. "Morning Glory"
  11. Untitled
  12. "Champagne Supernova"

"Don't Look Back in Anger" is a song by the English rock band Oasis. It was written by the band's guitarist and main songwriter Noel Gallagher. The song was produced by Gallagher and Owen Morris. Released on 19 February 1996 as the fourth single from their second studio album, (What's the Story) Morning Glory? (1995), it became Oasis' second single to reach No. 1 on the UK Singles Chart, where it also went platinum.[1] It was the first Oasis single with lead vocals by Noel, who had previously only sung lead on B-sides, instead of his brother Liam. Noel would later sing lead vocals on six more singles.

The song is in the key of C, but pitched slightly sharp of the standard concert tuning of A 440. It is one of the band's signature songs, and was played at almost every single live show from its release to the dissolution of the band in 2009. In 2012, it was ranked No. 1 on a list of the "50 Most Explosive Choruses" by NME,[2] and the same year it was voted the fourth most popular No. 1 single of the last 60 years in the UK by the public in conjunction with the Official Charts Company's 60th anniversary.[3] In 2015, Rolling Stone readers voted it the second greatest Britpop song after "Common People" by Pulp.[4] On 29 May 2017, Absolute Radio 90s broadcast a programme counting down the top 50 songs written by Noel Gallagher to mark his 50th birthday, with the song being voted No. 1.


Noel Gallagher was so excited about the potential of the song when he first wrote it that he used an acoustic set to perform a work-in-progress version, without the second verse and with a few other slight lyrical differences, at an Oasis concert at the Sheffield Arena on 22 April 1995. He said before playing that he'd only written it the previous Tuesday (18 April 1995) and that he didn't even have a title for it yet. The title was picked as a reference to the 1979 David Bowie song "Look Back in Anger" from the seminal art rock album Lodger, with Bowie's work being a massive Oasis influence.

Noel Gallagher said of the song, "It reminds me of a cross between All the Young Dudes and something the Beatles might have done." Of the character "Sally" referred to in the song, he commented, "I don't actually know anybody called Sally. It's just a word that fit, y'know, might as well throw a girl's name in there."[5] He explained the song by saying, "It's about not being upset about the things you might have said or done yesterday, which is quite appropriate at the moment. It's about looking forward rather than looking back. I hate people who look back on the past or talk about what might have been."

In August 2007, Gallagher told Uncut magazine, "We were in Paris playing with the Verve, and I had the chords for that song and started writing it. We were due to play two days later. Our first-ever big arena gig, it's called Sheffield Arena now. At the sound check, I was strumming away on the acoustic guitar, and our kid (Liam) said, 'What's that you're singin'?' I wasn't singing anyway, I was just making it up. And our kid said, 'Are you singing, 'So Sally can wait'?' And I was like – that's genius! So I started singing, 'So Sally can wait.' I remember going back to the dressing room and writing it out. It all came really quickly after that." Gallagher claims that the character "Lyla", from Oasis' 2005 single, is Sally's sister. In the interview on the DVD released with the special edition of Stop the Clocks, he also revealed that a girl approached him and asked him if Sally was the same girl mentioned in the Stone Roses track "Sally Cinnamon". He replied that he had never thought of that, but thought it was good reference anyway.

In a 2019 Esquire magazine interview, Gallagher stated, "I remember writing it in Paris on a rainy night. We had just played a strip club: our set finished, the strippers came on. We were nothing, an insignificant little band. And I remember going back to my hotel room and writing it, and thinking, 'That'll be pretty good when we record it.' If I'd have known that night what I know now about people playing it at fucking funerals and weddings, I'd never have finished the song. Too much pressure."[6]

Gallagher admits that certain lines from the song are lifted from John Lennon: "I got this tape in the United States that had apparently been burgled from the Dakota Hotel and someone had found these cassettes. Lennon was starting to record his memoirs on tape. He's going on about 'trying to start a revolution from me [sic] bed, because they said the brains I had went to my head.' I thought, 'Thank you, I'll take that!'" The line "revolution from me bed" most likely refers to Lennon's notorious bed-ins in 1969. The piano in the introduction of the song strongly resembles Lennon's "Imagine", as well as "Watching the Wheels".[citation needed]

As Oasis are often criticised for borrowing parts of other artists' songs, Gallagher commented on the intro's similarity to "Imagine":

In the case of "Don't Look Back in Anger" – I mean, the opening piano riff's "Imagine". 50% of its put in there to wind people up, and the other 50% is saying, "Look, this is how songs like 'Don't Look Back in Anger' come about – because they're inspired by songs like 'Imagine'." And no matter what people might think, there will be some 13 year old kid out there who'll read an interview and think, "'Imagine'? I've never heard that song." And he might go and buy the album, you know what I mean?[7][8][9]

Gallagher also admits that he was under the influence of illegal substances when he wrote the song and to this day he claims he does not know what it means.[10]

Live performances[edit]

The song became a favourite at Oasis's live performances. Noel Gallagher encouraged the crowd to sing along and often kept quiet during the first chorus, allowing the fans instead to sing along while he played the song's guitar part. During the Dig Out Your Soul Tour, Noel Gallagher abandoned the song's previous, full-band live arrangement in favour of a much slower, primarily acoustic arrangement in a lower key (B major). From 2008 through to Oasis's breakup, the song was performed by Gallagher on his Gibson J-200 acoustic guitar backed up by Gem Archer on electric guitar, and Chris Sharrock playing tambourine. On 11 and 12 July 2009, during performances of the song at London's Wembley Stadium, Gallagher didn't sing a word; instead, he stood back, played guitar, and allowed the crowd to sing the entire song.[11] Since 2011, he has alternated between the acoustic version and the original arrangement when playing the song with his solo project, Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds.

Oasis became the first act since the Jam to perform two songs on the same showing of Top of the Pops, performing "Don't Look Back in Anger", followed by their cover of Slade's "Cum On Feel the Noize", also on the single.

In June 2017, Liam Gallagher performed an a cappella version of the song at Glastonbury, making it the first time he has performed the song rather than Noel.[12]

Manchester Arena bombing[edit]

Oasis formed in Manchester in 1991, and following the Manchester Arena bombing after a concert by US singer Ariana Grande on 22 May 2017, the song was used by the people of Manchester in remembrance of the bombing's 22 victims and to show the city's spirit. The song was sung by students of Manchester's Chetham's music school on 23 May, and on 25 May it was spontaneously sung by the crowd gathered for a minute of silence in the city centre. The woman who started the singing told The Guardian, "I love Manchester, and Oasis is part of my childhood. Don't Look Back in Anger--that's what this is about: we can't be looking backwards to what happened, we have to look forwards to the future."[13] The song came back into the charts, along with Ariana Grande's "One Last Time," which was number one in the iTunes single charts as of 26 May.[14] On 27 May, the song was performed as a tribute by 50,000 audience members of a performance by The Courteeners in Manchester.[15]

It was performed by Coldplay's Chris Martin and Jonny Buckland on either side of Ariana Grande at the One Love Manchester concert on 4 June 2017.[16] Martin introduced the song by saying "Ariana, you've been singing a lot for us, so I think we in Britain want to sing for you. This is called "Don't Look Back in Anger", and this is from us to you".

It was also performed by the military band of the French Republican Guard on 13 June 2017, at the France versus England football match at the Stade de France, as a tribute to the victims of the attacks in Manchester and, more recently, London.[17]


The single's picture sleeve contains a photo by Brian Cannon. He intended the cover as a homage to the incident where Ringo Starr, having briefly left the Beatles in 1968 during the recording of the White Album, was persuaded to return and George Harrison decorated Starr's drum kit in red, white and blue flowers to show their appreciation.[18]

The B-side "Step Out" was originally intended for the (What's the Story) Morning Glory? album but was taken off after Stevie Wonder requested 10 per cent of the royalties as the chorus bore a similarity to his hit "Uptight (Everything's Alright)". Also, because of this, Wonder, Henry Cosby and Sylvia Moy received credit for writing the song, along with Noel.

The song's chart success coincided with its usage at the end of the final episode of the BBC television drama Our Friends in the North. The show's producers had included the track without knowing it was going to be released as a single.

Critical reception[edit]

"Don't Look Back in Anger" was met with high critical praise and it became a commercial hit. Billboard said of the tune, "Noel Gallagher reveals a deft sense of timing and craft that turn his improprieties into masterful pop gems."[19]

In a 2006 readers' poll conducted by Q magazine, "Don't Look Back in Anger" was voted the 20th best song of all time.[20] In May 2007, NME magazine placed "Don't Look Back in Anger" at number 14 in its list of the "50 Greatest Indie Anthems Ever".[21]

Chart performance[edit]

The song reached No.1 in the singles charts of Ireland and the United Kingdom, and it was a moderate success by reaching the top 60 in various countries. The song was the 10th-biggest-selling single of 1996 in the UK. It is Oasis's second biggest selling single in the UK (after Wonderwall), with sales of 970,000, going platinum in the process.

The song returned to the UK charts in 2017 following Chris Martin and Jonny Buckland's cover version at the One Love Manchester concert, reaching number 25.

"Don't Look Back in Anger" is also Oasis's sixth biggest Billboard hit in the US, reaching the number 10 spot on the Modern Rock Tracks for the week of 22 June 1996.[22]

Music video[edit]

The video for the song was directed by Nigel Dick and features Patrick Macnee, the actor who played John Steed in the 1960s television series The Avengers, apparently a favourite of Oasis. It was filmed at 1145 Arden Road in Pasadena, California on December 4, 1995.[23] It features the band being driven to a mansion similar to the Playboy Mansion and performing the song there; a group of women dressed in white also occasionally lip sync to the lyrics. While filming the video, drummer Alan White met future wife Liz Atkins. They married on 13 August 1997 at Studley Priory Hotel in Oxfordshire, but later divorced.

There are two versions of the music video. One being posted by the band themselves in 2008 with over 150 million views.[24] and another posted in collaboration with Vevo in 2014 with over 100 million views. [25]


Track listing[edit]

All songs were written by Noel Gallagher, except where noted.

  • CD CRESCD 221 (re-issued as RKIDSCD 018)
  1. "Don't Look Back in Anger"  – 4:47
  2. "Step Out" (Gallagher/Wonder/Cosby/Moy)  – 3:40
  3. "Underneath the Sky"  – 3:20
  4. "Cum On Feel the Noize" (Holder/Lea)  – 5:09
  • 7" CRE 221
  1. "Don't Look Back in Anger"  – 4:47
  2. "Step Out" (Gallagher/Wonder/Cosby/Moy)  – 3:40
  • 12" CRE 221T
  1. "Don't Look Back in Anger"  – 4:47
  2. "Step Out" (Gallagher/Wonder/Cosby/Moy)  – 3:40
  3. "Underneath the Sky"  – 3:20
  • Cassette CRECS 221
  1. "Don't Look Back in Anger"  – 4:47
  2. "Step Out" (Gallagher/Wonder/Cosby/Moy)  – 3:40
  • CD re-issue (US) 34K78356
  1. "Don't Look Back in Anger"  – 4:47
  2. "Cum On Feel the Noize" (Holder/Lea)  – 5:09

Charts and certifications[edit]


  1. ^ BPI website, Search "Oasis" Archived 11 January 2013 at WebCite. Retrieved on 2011-06-12.
  2. ^ "'Don't Look Back in Anger' by Oasis tops NME's 50 Most Explosive Choruses list". NME. 28 February 2012. Retrieved 13 January 2014.
  3. ^ "Queen's 'Bohemian Rhapsody' named as 'UK's Favourite Number One single' | News". NME. 16 July 2012. Retrieved 29 April 2020.
  4. ^ "Readers' Poll: The 10 Best Brit-Pop Songs". Rolling Stone. 25 March 2018.
  5. ^ "Oasis' Don't Look Back In Anger: 12 Things You Didn't Know". NME. 19 February 2016. Retrieved 9 May 2019.
  6. ^
  7. ^ Oasis: Mad For It (1996, 2/4) on YouTube (2008-07-22). Retrieved on 2011-06-12.
  8. ^ Simpson, Paul (2003). The Rough Guide to Cult Pop: The Songs, the Artists, the Genres, the Dubious Fashions. Rough Guides. p. 107. ISBN 1-84353-229-8.
  9. ^ Hurry, Pam (2001). Heinemann Advanced Music. Heinemann. p. 170. ISBN 0-435-81258-0.
  10. ^ Davina Earl (13 August 2005). "Noel Gallagher's Plea For Help". Gigwise. Archived from the original on 13 October 2007. Retrieved 23 September 2007.
  11. ^ OASIS - Don't Look Back In Anger - Wembley Stadium 11/07/2009 on YouTube. Retrieved on 2012-08-27.
  12. ^ "Liam Gallagher performs Don't Look Back In Anger at Glastonbury". 24 June 2017.
  13. ^ Perraudin, Frances; Halliday, Josh (25 May 2017). "Don't Look Back in Anger becomes symbol of Manchester's spirit". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 25 May 2017.
  14. ^ "Oasis classic re-enters the charts after crowds sing it at Manchester memorial - NME". NME. 26 May 2017. Retrieved 27 May 2017.
  15. ^ "50,000 Fans Sing Oasis At First Manchester Concert Since Attacks". 28 May 2017.
  16. ^ Kim, Michelle (4 June 2017). "Coldplay Sing Oasis' "Don't Look Back in Anger" to Ariana Grande in Manchester: Watch". Pitchfork. Retrieved 9 June 2017.
  17. ^ "France v England: French fans sing God Save The Queen". BBC News. British Broadcasting Corporation. 13 June 2017. Retrieved 25 June 2017.
  18. ^ "Oasis – The Stories Behind Their Cryptic Album and Single Sleeve Art". 18 August 2015. Archived from the original on 27 April 2017. Retrieved 1 March 2018.
  19. ^ Flick, Larry (1996-06-15), "Singles: Pop". Billboard. 108 (24):74
  20. ^ "100 Greatest Songs Ever". Q. 2006. Retrieved 23 September 2007.
  21. ^ "50 Greatest Indie Anthems Ever". NME. 2007. Retrieved 23 September 2007.
  22. ^ Sexton, Paul (2005-08-27), "OASIS". Billboard. 117 (35):36
  23. ^ Nigel Dick Filmography
  24. ^ Oasis – Don't Look Back In Anger (Official Video). YouTube. 18 February 2008. Retrieved 28 December 2017.
  25. ^ Oasis – Don't Look Back In Anger. YouTube. 17 January 2014. Retrieved 28 December 2017.
  26. ^ " – Oasis – Don't Look Back in Anger". ARIA Top 50 Singles.
  27. ^ " – Oasis – Don't Look Back in Anger" (in French). Ultratop 50.
  28. ^ "Top RPM Singles: Issue 9529." RPM. Library and Archives Canada.
  29. ^ "Top RPM Rock/Alternative Tracks: Issue 9659." RPM. Library and Archives Canada.
  30. ^ "Top National Sellers" (PDF). Music & Media. Vol. 13 no. 20. 18 May 1996. p. 28. Retrieved 16 February 2020.
  31. ^ "Top National Sellers" (PDF). Music & Media. Vol. 13 no. 11. 16 March 1996. p. 23. Retrieved 16 February 2020.
  32. ^ "Eurochart Hot 100 Singles" (PDF). Music & Media. Vol. 13 no. 10. 9 March 1996. p. 27. Retrieved 4 February 2020.
  33. ^ "Oasis: Don't Look Back in Anger" (in Finnish). Musiikkituottajat – IFPI Finland.
  34. ^ " – Oasis – Don't Look Back in Anger" (in French). Les classement single.
  35. ^ " – Oasis – Don't Look Back in Anger". GfK Entertainment Charts.
  36. ^ "Tonlist Top 40". DV. Retrieved 22 May 2017.
  37. ^ "The Irish Charts – Search Results – Don't Look Back in Anger". Irish Singles Chart.
  38. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – week 12, 1996" (in Dutch). Dutch Top 40
  39. ^ " – Oasis – Don't Look Back in Anger" (in Dutch). Single Top 100.
  40. ^ " – Oasis – Don't Look Back in Anger". Top 40 Singles.
  41. ^ " – Oasis – Don't Look Back in Anger". VG-lista.
  42. ^ "Notowanie nr741" (in Polish). LP3. 12 April 1996. Retrieved 26 February 2019. Cite magazine requires |magazine= (help)
  43. ^ "Official Scottish Singles Sales Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company.
  44. ^ " – Oasis – Don't Look Back in Anger". Singles Top 100.
  45. ^ " – Oasis – Don't Look Back in Anger". Swiss Singles Chart.
  46. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company.
  47. ^ "Oasis Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard.
  48. ^ "Oasis Chart History (Alternative Songs)". Billboard.
  49. ^ "Oasis Chart History (Pop Songs)". Billboard.
  50. ^ "Cash Box Top 100 09/21/96" (PDF).
  51. ^ * Zimbabwe. Kimberley, C. Zimbabwe: singles chart book. Harare: C. Kimberley, 2000
  52. ^ "Oasis Chart History (Japan Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved 21 May 2020.
  53. ^ "RPM Year End Alternative Top 50". RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 29 June 2018.
  54. ^ "Music & Media 1996 in Review – Year End Sales Charts" (PDF). Music & Media. Vol. 13 no. 51/52. 21 December 1996. p. 12. Retrieved 4 February 2020.
  55. ^ "Árslistinn 1996". Dagblaðið Vísir (in Icelandic). 2 January 1997. p. 16. Retrieved 30 May 2020.
  56. ^ "Årslista Singlar, 1996" (in Swedish). Sverigetopplistan. Retrieved 21 May 2020.
  57. ^ "Top 100 Singles 1996". Music Week. 18 January 1997. p. 25.
  58. ^ "Italian single certifications – Oasis – Don't Look Back in Anger" (in Italian). Federazione Industria Musicale Italiana. Retrieved 23 April 2018. Select "Tutti gli anni" in the "Anno" drop-down menu. Select "Don't Look Back in Anger" in the "Filtra" field. Select "Singoli online" under "Sezione".
  59. ^ "Japanese single certifications – Oasis – Don't Look Back in Anger" (in Japanese). Recording Industry Association of Japan. Retrieved 25 January 2020. Select 2017年2月 on the drop-down menu
  60. ^ White, Jack (14 June 2018). "Rick Astley and Oasis join UK's best-selling singles of all time". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 23 July 2018.
  61. ^ "British single certifications – Oasis – Don't Look Back in Anger". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 31 May 2019.

External links[edit]