On Tuesday, Nov. 28, Liam Gallagher appeared on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.” He performed his latest single, “Come Back to Me.” The song demonstrates Gallagher’s ability to craft songs about relationships of various sort that have an edge to them. The performance proved that Gallagher’s public persona in the past outshone his ability as a vocalist.
Liam Gallagher and the legacy of Oasis
Before going solo, Gallagher was part of successful BritPop band, Oasis. While the group was together from 1991 to 2009, what all but the most dedicated fans remember are Oasis’ hits from the mid-1990s.
In Oasis, Liam’s older brother, Noel, shared vocal duties and played guitar. Liam was a member of Oasis before Noel joined. The group that had begun as a band called Rain, became Oasis in 1991. By the middle of the 1990s, the group had a few hits in the US (as well as the UK), but the band’s fame was as widespread as the Gallagher brothers’ fighting.
Despite the Gallaghers well-publicized attacks on each other, and other BritPop groups like Blur, the songs that they released managed to attract a significant number of fans. Comparisons to the Beatles abounded.
Arguably the best song from Oasis’ early years is “Wonderwall.” For listeners who did not appreciate the lighter, more Beatles-sounding tunes, “Wonderwall” was a great example of BritPop verve and swagger.
“Wonderwall” was released in 1995. The rhyme scheme even had swagger. “Backbeat the word was on the street/that the fire in your heart is out…” the hard consonant endings on the words “backbeat” and “street” give the song some bite. Further, it portrays that the narrator is looking for information about the object of his affection (his “Wonderwall”) through their shared social circles.
The narrator’s mindset is also illuminated with the line, “I don’t believe that anybody feels the way I do about you now.” Listeners have no way of knowing if this is true or not, but it seems a bit self-serving that someone suffering the pangs of unrequited love would tell his loved one, “no one loves you like I do.” The song could also indicate an attempt to form a friendship with someone who is either unavailable or unwilling for one reason or another.
The dynamics that underscore all of this are the instrumentation, especially the way the heavy drumbeats are used to usher the song into its subsequent part, and the way the singer’s voice (Liam Gallagher’s) sounds vulnerable during the bridge sections, but stronger during the verses and chorus.
Understanding the importance of the style of “Wonderwall” highlights the significance of Gallagher’s performance of “Come Back to Me” on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.”
“Come Back to Me”: Liam Gallagher
“Come Back to Me” is from Gallagher’s latest album “As You Were.” His appearance on Fallon’s show found the singer performing in a parka and cap. For audiences who had perhaps not paid much attention to him in the 1990s, the outfit was unusual. However, the song was worth noting.
The guitar work on “Come Back to Me” makes good use of jangle rock traditions in the chorus, but it is given a harder edge elsewhere. Like “Wonderwall,” it sounds contemporary, and despite the track being essentially a love song, it does not plead. It presents the idea of a relationship with the narrator as the best thing to do in a comparative sense.
“Come Back to Me” also finds Gallagher’s voice using his typical nasal tenor, but it sounds a bit deeper on this song. The resulting vocalizations sneer, instead of whine, which works for the track.
The near-apathy of the song is found in lines like, “Everyone out there/ says you’ve been testing with man and God/why don’t you come back to me…” It is not a bold declaration of love. It is a “let me help you out” kind of statement. Of course, the narrator, too, could be helped by the relationship.
With a slightly stronger approach to instrumentation, but with a similar attitude that he evinced in Oasis’ heyday, Gallagher might prove to have a successful solo career.