Don't Look Back in Anger

Don't Look Back in Anger
"Don't Look Back in Anger"
Single by Oasis
from the album (What's the Story) Morning Glory?
B-side "Step Out"
"Underneath the Sky"
"Cum On Feel the Noize"
Released 19 February 1996
Format CD, 7" vinyl, 12" vinyl, cassette
Genre Britpop
Length 4:47
Label Creation
Writer(s) Noel Gallagher
Producer Owen Morris
Oasis singles chronology
"Don't Look Back in Anger"
"Champagne Supernova"
(What's the Story) Morning Glory? track listing
"Don't Look Back in Anger"
"Hey Now!"
Stop the Clocks track listing
"Champagne Supernova"
"Don't Look Back in Anger"

"Don't Look Back in Anger" is a song by English rock band Oasis, released in 1996 as the fourth single from their hit second album (What's the Story) Morning Glory?. The song was written by the band's guitarist and main songwriter, Noel Gallagher. The song became the band's second single to reach #1 in the UK Singles Chart, where it also went platinum.[1] "Don't Look Back in Anger" was also the first Oasis single to feature Noel, who had provided backing vocals on debut album, Definitely Maybe, on lead vocals instead of his brother, Liam Gallagher.


Writing and recording

Noel was so excited of 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 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.

Noel 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. It's gotta guarantee somebody a shag off a bird called Sally, hasn't it?"

Noel Gallagher (from Uncut magazine August 2007): "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 2 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 Gallagher) 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." Noel claims that the character "Lyla", from Oasis' 2005 single is the sister of Sally. In the interview on the DVD released with the special edition of Stop the Clocks, Noel also revealed that a girl approached him and asked him if Sally was the same girl as in The Stone Roses' track "Sally Cinnamon". Noel replied that he'd never thought of that but thought it was good anyway.

Noel 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 bed, because they said the brains I had went to my head.' I thought 'Thank you, I'll take that'!" "Revolution from me bed" most likely refers to Lennon's notorious bed-ins in 1969. The piano in the introduction of the song resembles Lennon's "Imagine", as well as "Watching the Wheels". As Oasis are often criticised for borrowing parts of other artists songs for their own, Noel Gallagher commented on the intro's similarity to "Imagine" saying, "In the case of Don't Look Back in Anger – I mean, the opening piano riff's Imagine. 50% of it's 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?"[2][3][4] 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.[5]

In a 2006 radio interview, Liam Gallagher said that it was he who came up with the line "so Sally can wait" as Noel was struggling with that particular line at the time. Noel confirms this on the bonus DVD, entitled Lock the Box, released with the Stop the Clocks retrospective album. In the interview with Colin Murray, Noel admits, "I was doing it in the sound check and the so Sally bit, I wasn't singing that...and he [Liam] says, 'Are you singing so Sally can wait?' and I said, 'No.' and he said, 'Well you should do.'"

On the Time Flies... 1994–2009 video[6] for the song, Noel says that, given the number of songs the band had at the time, he was forced to play an acoustic set at their first arena show at Sheffield Arena explaining that it allowed the band to drag time having to get a stool out and setting up the stage. He had written the basis for it a couple of night previous and was playing it during the soundcheck and only feeling the words out because it was incomplete. Liam came up to Noel and said "Who's Sally?" and Noel replied "What are you talking about?". Liam said "Well that's what you're singing isn't it, 'So Sally can wait'?". Noel thought that it was so brilliant that, even though those were not the words, he decided to use them.

Noel once admitted, on the Frank Skinner show, to telling Liam that he wanted to sing "Wonderwall". On hearing "Wonderwall", Liam demanded that he should sing it. Noel reluctantly agreed on the understanding that he could sing the next song on the album ("Don't Look Back in Anger"). However, in reality, Noel only ever really wanted to sing "Don't Look Back in Anger" and used "Wonderwall" as a bargaining tool, since he knew Liam would want to sing it.[citation needed]

The song has a tuning of A at 455 Hz instead of the standard 440 Hz which is used on live performances. The same special tuning can be heard in the song "Some Might Say".

Live performances

The song has become a favourite at Oasis' live performances. Noel encourages the crowd to sing along and often keeps quiet during the first chorus, allowing the fans instead to sing along while he plays 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 onwards the song has been 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 July 2009, during a performance 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.[7]

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.


The single cover is an homage to the incident where Ringo Starr briefly left The Beatles during the recording of The White Album; after the other three Beatles members successfully persuaded him to return, George Harrison decorated Ringo's drum kit in red, white, and blue flowers to show their appreciation.

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% 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.


"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."[8]

"Don't Look Back in Anger" is Oasis's sixth biggest Billboard hit in the US, reaching the number 10 spot on the US Modern Rock Chart for the week of June 22, 1996.[9]

It was the 10th-biggest-selling single of 1996 in the UK.

It is Oasis's 3rd biggest selling single in the UK with 660,000 sales going platinum in the process.

In a 2006 readers' poll conducted by Q magazine, "Don't Look Back in Anger" was voted the 20th best song of all time.[10]

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".[11]

Music video

The video for the song, directed by Nigel Dick, features Patrick Macnee, the actor who played John Steed in the 1960s television series The Avengers, apparently a favourite of the band. While filming the video, drummer Alan White met future wife Liz Atkins They married on 13 August 1997 at Studley Priory Hotel, Oxfordshire but later divorced.

Notable appearances in the media

The song has been used in a multiple television programmes since its original release — perhaps most notably, it played over the end credits of the final episode of the BBC Two drama serial Our Friends in the North in March 1996,[12] the very week it was at the top of the UK charts.

The song was included as the closing track on Oasis' compilation album, Stop the Clocks.

Portions of this song appear as a motif in the Chuck episode, Chuck versus the Alma Mater.

The song was in an episode of the show Cold Case titled "Hubris" .

The song is available for the music video game series Rock Band as a downloadable track. On the Wii version of the original Rock Band game, this song is included.

The song was memorably covered by The Wurzels among others for an album of covers of songs seemingly inappropriate to their West Country image and style, and has become one of their more frequently performed numbers.

The song will be featured in the end credits of the movie BECK.

The song was used in the closing scene of the Being Human (North American) season 1 finale titled "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Me Killing You"


  • Noel Gallagher: Vocals and lead guitar.
  • Paul Arthurs: Rhythm guitar and piano.
  • Paul McGuigan: Bass guitar.
  • Alan White: Drums and percussion.
  • Liam Gallagher: Tambourine

Track listing

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

  • CD CRESCD 221 (re-issued as RKISCD 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


Chart (1995/1996) Peak
Australia ARIA Singles Chart 19[citation needed]
Canadian RPM Singles Chart 24[citation needed]
Canadian RPM Alternative 30 2[citation needed]
Irish Singles Chart 1[citation needed]
Polish Singles Chart[13] 15
UK Singles Chart 1[citation needed]
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 55[citation needed]
U.S. Billboard Modern Rock Tracks 10[citation needed]
Preceded by
"Spaceman" by Babylon Zoo
UK Singles Chart number-one single
25 February – 2 March 1996
Succeeded by
"How Deep Is Your Love" by Take That


  1. ^ BPI website, Search "Oasis". Retrieved on 2011-06-12.
  2. ^ ‪Oasis: Mad For It (1996, 2/4)‬‏. YouTube (2008-07-22). Retrieved on 2011-06-12.
  3. ^ Simpson, Paul (2003). The Rough Guide to Cult Pop: The Songs, the Artists, the Genres, the Dubious Fashions. Rough Guides. p. 107. ISBN 1843532298. 
  4. ^ Hurry, Pam (2001). Heinemann Advanced Music. Heinemann. p. 170. ISBN 0435812580. 
  5. ^ Davina Earl (2005-08-13). "Noel Gallagher’s Plea For Help". Gigwise. Retrieved 2007-09-23. 
  6. ^ "Time Flies – Don't Look Back In Anger". Retrieved 2011-01-06. 
  7. ^ ‪Oasis – Don't look back in anger Live @ Wembley 11/07/09‬‏. YouTube. Retrieved on 2011-06-12.
  8. ^ Flick, Larry (1996-06-15), "Singles: Pop". Billboard. 108 (24):74
  9. ^ Sexton, Paul (2005-08-27), "OASIS". Billboard. 117 (35):36
  10. ^ "100 Greatest Songs Ever". Q. 2006. Retrieved 2007-09-23. 
  11. ^ "50 Greatest Indie Anthems Ever". NME. 2007. Retrieved 2007-09-23. 
  12. ^ Taylor, Steve (2004). The A to X of Alternative Music. Continuum International Publishing Group, p. 170. ISBN 0-8264-8217-1
  13. ^ "Polish Singles Chart". 

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