Half the World Away

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"Half the World Away"
Song by Oasis
from the album The Masterplan
Released18 December 1994
RecordedOctober 1994
StudioCongress House Studio, Austin, Texas
GenreBritpop, Rock
Length4:21
LabelCreation
Songwriter(s)Noel Gallagher
Producer(s)Owen Morris & Noel Gallagher

"Half the World Away" is a song by English rock band Oasis. It is well known as the theme tune to the popular BBC sitcom The Royle Family.

The song was written by Oasis' lead guitarist Noel Gallagher, who also provides lead vocals. The song is a slow acoustic tune with plodding keyboards, and the lyrics – much like "Rock 'n' Roll Star" – expresses a desire to leave a stagnant life in a boring city. The song is primarily in C Major.[1]

Recorded at The Congress House Studio, Austin, Texas, USA in October 1994, "Half the World Away" was first released as a B-side to "Whatever" on 18 December 1994, reaching #3 in the UK charts.[2]

In 1998 the song was included in The Masterplan, a collection of Oasis' best B-sides. The collection was a success, peaking at #2 in the UK charts. The track is also included on Oasis' compilation album Stop the Clocks, which also reached #2. The song reached #56 in the UK charts in 2015 following the release of Aurora's cover version, marking their first top 100 song since the release of "Falling Down" in 2009.

Background[edit]

Oasis' sound engineer Mark Coyle introduced the band to Burt Bacharach's song "This Guy's in Love with You". Coyle was in charge of musical intake while on tour, and this song was often played during his eclectic sets. Drummer Tony McCarroll pointed out that the song's drum shuffle could be adapted for one of Oasis' acoustic numbers. After a while "instead of adapting the drum shuffle, Noel seemed to have adapted the whole song and renamed it Half The World Away". Despite the input and being able to play the pattern well, McCarroll (along with the rest of the band) were invited to leave the studio for a break, but it turned out to be just an excuse so Gallagher could record the drum track himself.[3]

In interviews, Gallagher – who is famous for "borrowing" from other musicians – has admitted the tune to "Half the World Away" was adapted from "This Guy's in Love with You" by Bacharach and Hal David. He commented "It sounds exactly the same. I'm surprised he hasn't sued me yet!"[4] Gallagher sang "This Guy's in Love with You" live in 1996 at a Burt Bacharach concert at the London Festival Hall while Bacharach accompanied him on piano and conducted the orchestra.

Some of the borrowing in the song is from Gallagher's own work: the line "My body feels young but my mind is very old" was adapted from the second line of the earlier song Comin' On Strong ("Your body's still young but your mind is very old")[5], a song that would later itself be reworked by the Chemical Brothers as Setting Sun, with Noel's vocals and lyrics retained.

The Royle Family[edit]

The song gained mass public exposure when it was selected by Caroline Aherne and Craig Cash to be the theme tune to their sitcom The Royle Family. The series revolved around the sitting room of a working-class family and was set in Manchester, the hometown of Oasis. Although it had modest beginnings, the series soon became popular and its theme became well known. The opening credits of the series edited together the first stanza of the first verse and the second stanza of the first chorus. The end credits, which would cut in immediately after the final joke of the episode – so as to add weight to it – began with the second stanza of the final chorus and would see the song through to the coda. When Gallagher was originally approached about using an Oasis song for a series about a working-class family in Manchester, he suggested "Married with Children" and was confused when "Half the World Away" was chosen. On tour in America when The Royle Family was first screened, he claims the penny did not drop until he returned to the United Kingdom to find the series a huge success and viewed it, feeling the song was perfect for the series. He now claims not to think of "Half the World Away" as an Oasis song, but rather as the theme tune to The Royle Family.[6] After Caroline Aherne died in July 2016, Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds paid tribute to her by performing Half the World Away on a few occasions.

Charts[edit]

Chart (2015) Peak
position
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[7] 56

Aurora version[edit]

"Half the World Away"
Aurora Half the World Away.jpeg
Single by AURORA
from the album All My Demons Greeting Me as a Friend
Released6 November 2015
FormatDigital download
Recorded2015
GenrePop
Length3:18
LabelDecca Records
Songwriter(s)Noel Gallagher
AURORA singles chronology
"Murder Song (5, 4, 3, 2, 1)"
(2015)
"Half the World Away"
(2015)
"Conqueror"
(2016)

In 2015, Norwegian singer-songwriter AURORA released a cover version of the song. It was released on 6 November 2015 as a digital download. The song was selected as the soundtrack to the 2015 John Lewis Christmas advert. It was later accumulated for the deluxe version of her debut album All My Demons Greeting Me as a Friend, which was released on 11 March 2016.

Track listing[edit]

Digital download
No.TitleLength
1."Half the World Away"3:18

Charts[edit]

Chart (2015) Peak
position
Ireland (IRMA)[8] 22
Scotland (Official Charts Company)[9] 4
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[7] 11

Release history[edit]

Region Date Format Label
United Kingdom 6 November 2015 Digital download Decca Records

Personnel[edit]

  • Noel Gallagher: Vocals, Guitars, Drums
  • Paul Arthurs: Keyboards
  • Owen Morris: Bass guitar[10]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Sheet music showing the key of the song
  2. ^ Song profile on Oasisinet
  3. ^ McCarrol, Tony (2010). Oasis: The Truth, Blake Publishing, ISBN 1843582465
  4. ^ Report at gigwise.com
  5. ^ Comin On Strong lyrics
  6. ^ Interview with Noel Gallagher, We Love The Royle Family, BBC 1, 29 October 2006
  7. ^ a b "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 13 November 2015.
  8. ^ "Chart Track: Week 46, 2015". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved 13 November 2015.
  9. ^ "Official Scottish Singles Sales Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 12 December 2015.
  10. ^ "Half the world away I mixed back at Loco while the Verve were having a weekend off onetime….I overdubbed a bass on it….to give it credibility I told Noel that Si from The Verve played it…" http://owenmorris.net/oasis/

External links[edit]