Record Machine: “Little By Little” and “She is Love” by Oasis

Have I really not mentioned any Oasis records yet? Goodness, let us remedy that at once!

Oasis album - Little by Little - She is Love
photo by Tyson Habein

Though I’ve covered one of Noel Gallagher’s solo singles, and also one of Beady Eye’s, I do have a couple of records from the band proper. “Little By Little” backed with “She is Love” was meant to be what they called a Double A-Side, except “She is Love” never had an official release. Commonly believed to be written for Noel Gallagher’s now-wife, Sara MacDonald, I wonder if its commissioned video came about during the brief period of time where they split up. Whatever the reason, Oasis never offered the video on any format. Luckily, intrepid YouTube comes through:

At the time, the video (directed by Rachel Thomas) looked quite different from other Oasis videos, which were usually more aggressive or otherwise full-on. However, with the animated video for “The Masterplan” (released in support of the Best Of album, Stop The Clocks, and one of my favorites) and the female-centric “Falling Down,” it’s really not all that strange of a fit for their career.

“She is Love” is a beautiful, simple tribute and offers these perfect lines:

You read all my thoughts of passion
and the dreams of my delight
Whatever stirs my mortal frame,
will you keep it warm at night?
I don’t know where you come from,
and no, I haven’t got a clue
All I know is I’m in love with someone who loves me too.

Doesn’t every writer — a writer of anything — want this? Yes, I’m speaking for myself, but oh, that’s the ideal, right there. Support my work and love me. That’s all I ask.

On the (literal) flip-side is “Little By Little,” a song about the disintegration of a relationship. Once again, people have theories about how it relates to his personal life — in this case, the end of his marriage to Meg Matthews.

Little by little
I gave you everything you ever dreamed of
Little by little
the wheels of your life are slowly falling off

But in typical Noel fashion, he deflected by saying it and another Heathen Chemistry track, “Force of Nature,” (which is a delightfully mean break-up song) were inspired by a film. I could tell you which film, but the answer is in a 10th Anniversary of Oasis special issue of MOJO or Q Magazine, and those are packed away in some box in my storage unit. The Internet is less than forthcoming, so maybe trust my obsessive brain on this one? Yes? Yes.

Instead of the official promo video, let’s watch Noel Gallagher’s version performed at the O2 in 2012. Its tempo is better, and he’s wearing that white button-down that I love immensely, which he wore under his leather jacket when I met him. Not that I frequently mention that I met him or anything

“Little By Little” is not my favorite because I’ve always felt like Noel sings the verses in a register that is too low for his voice. Compare the way he sings “We the people fight for our existence” with the chorus lead-in, “But my god woke up on the wrong side of his bed.” He is better at big, soaring vocals.

Speaking of playing to one’s strengths, the B-side for this single showcases Liam Gallagher at some of his snarling best. Covering The Who’s “My Generation,” he sounds like himself without stepping on Roger Daltry’s toes. He hisses and draws out those previously stuttered consonants, and it’s perfect. Also, Andy Bell’s bass? Get in.

I enjoy that all of Oasis’ post-Creation Records releases are numbered RKid — Here, RKid 26T — referencing the way the Gallaghers refer to one another. Noel’s wealth of songwriting credits and creative control get the record label title itself — Big Brother Recordings Limited. Heathen Chemistry is not the band’s best album by a long shot, and it’s no secret that they were feeling largely uninspired at the time, but it’s still not as bad as people like to claim. “She is Love” ranks as one of my all-time favorite Oasis songs, and I will remain hopelessly apologetic and indulgent of its flaws.

And if the sword is among ya
and its words may wound my soul
You can fill me up with what you’ve got
cos my heart’s been keeping old

Oasis - Little by Little - She is Love - back cover
photo by Tyson Habein

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Sara Habein

Sara Habein is the author of Infinite Disposable, a collection of microfiction, and her work has appeared on The Rumpus, Pajiba and Word Riot, among others. Her book reviews and other commentary appear at Glorified Love Letters, and she is the co-manager of Electric City Creative.

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