Reverse Engineered Influences

The song I chose was Wonderwall by Oasis. This song was released in 1995 and was immediately a smash hit and one of the most successful British songs of all time. It was played on every alternative radio station on repeat. The lead singer of the band actually hates the song. He said that every time he has to sing it he wants to gag.  I like this song because it brings about positivity and helps you focus on the happy things in your life, whether it is someone or something that will always be there for you. I also like the melody as well, and I find it getting stuck in my head every time I listen to it.

Oasis formed in Manchester and were a huge part of the popular Britpop genre of pop rock and alternative rock that originated in the UK in the 1990s. One thing that I think is unique to this band and makes them stand out is the voice of the lead singer, Liam. There is so much feeling behind every lyric when he sings. The men in this band were sometimes described as cocky, always showing so much confidence, and occasionally a little too much. The way Liam sang was pretty much the opposite, and I think that’s why people tend to be surprised and filled with emotions by the sensitive way that he sings. I have heard covers of their songs by other people who are also very great singers, but I never got the same feeling as I did when Oasis performed it. The exact style and feelings portrayed while he sings are very hard to emulate. One of the things they are also known for is their acoustic interludes. At many of their gigs, Noel, the lead songwriter, would perform a half an hour interlude where he would sit on a stool with a spot light shining on him while he played his guitar and sang songs before anyone had heard them on record. Along with “Wonderwall”, “Don’t Look Back In Anger” was another one of their top songs, that can probably be considered their number one hit.

With Oasis being as famous as they were, it is important to look at their major influences. It is not hard to see or hear that The Beatles is one of them. Just by watching their music video for “Don’t Look Back In Anger”, you can clearly find comparisons. The intro is very similar to the piano in John Lennon’s song “Imagine” and Liam looks a lot like John Lennon in this video as well. The actual overall “look” of the two bands is very comparable from their haircuts to their clothes. I also noticed that a lot of their songs are along the same tempo and have similar sounding piano parts like in “Don’t Look Back In Anger” and “Imagine”.

John:

Liam:

The Beatles were one of the most popular bands of all time. They formed in Liverpool in 1960 and became the most influential group of the rock era. Their music was so unique and contained qualities of many different genres over time, so it is hard to put them in a distinct category. They could be described as rock and roll near the beginning, and then gradually transitioned to more of a pop-rock feel. One of the main reasons their music became so famous was because they “invented” the rock and roll two-electric guitar sound that no one could resist. This feeling actually comes from the way that are brains are wired. Different sounds result in different levels of dopamine being released, which causes positive feelings. Most people experience more of this when there are sharper and more intense sounds, which are what come from the electric guitar. One of their greatest hits was “A Day in the Life” but wasn’t fully appreciated until after Lennon’s death.

In order for the Beatles to become this successful, they had to have people that inspired them to do so. One of their greatest influences was Chuck Berry. They played at least 15 of his songs at their live shows, including “Roll Over Beethoven” and “Sweet Little Sixteen”. The Beatles also incorporated Chuck Berry’s lyrics into some of their own songs as well as ideas. Chuck Berry has a song called “Back in the USA” and The Beatles have a song called “Back in the U.S.S.R”, and the intro to these songs both involve a flight along with having similar titles.

Berry: “Back in the USA”
Oh well, oh well,
I feel so good today
We just touched ground
on an international runway
Jet propelled back home
from overseas to the U.S.A.
Beatles: “Back in the U.S.S.R.”
Flew in from Miami Beach B.O.A.C.
Didn’t get to bed last night
On the way the paper bag was on my knee
Man I had a dreadful flight
I’m back in the U.S.S.R.

 

The Beatles also used the same notes as Chuck Berry, just played it in a different key. Chuck Berry was a lyrical and musical genius being one of the greatest “rock-poets” of all time. Here is an example of how the notes in their songs compare:

Chuck Berry was one of the most famous rhythm and blues, rock and roll performer during the 1950’s-1970’s from St. Louis, Missouri. Many refer to him as the “father of rock ‘n’ roll and his music targeted mostly the teenage audience. What made Chuck Berry unique was his prominent use of his electric guitar setting a strong rhythm to set in line, and accent, his vocals. He wrote all of his own songs as well as played guitar for all of his recordings. His lyrics were deep and involved youth culture, usually addressing it in a comic way. He was the first rock and roll artist whose songs were relevant to the white audience without alienating his main black audience. One of his top hits was called “Johnny b Goode”.

Growing up Chuck Berry had many influences that made him become the “father of rock ‘n’ roll”. He emulated his clear vocals from Nat King Cole, and played many blues songs from Muddy Waters, which were two of his idols. Muddy Waters was the one who helped Chuck Berry make a record with Leonard Chess of Chess Records and directed him in the right direction. Chuck Berry’s songs involve many hardships, such as losing ones you love, which can be traced back to Muddy Water’s songs. In both of their songs, they are portraying themselves as the main character they are singing about, and the events that they have personally faced.

Muddy Waters was a blues musician who was born in Rolling Fork, Mississippi in 1915 who is often referred to as the “father of modern Chicago blues”. He is known for his powerful performances as a guitarist, as well as his personality on stage. His uncle gave him his first electric guitar, which marked the beginning of his career as a classical blues guitarist. In 1951, he established a band and when they brought their electric blues sound to England, that’s when Muddy Waters became a star. In his music he used microtones in his vocals, which are hard to follow. This made his music extremely hard to duplicate because of his unique sounds. One of Water’s greatest hits was “I’m Your Hoochie Cooche Man”.

As you can see, each artist can be traced back to previous artists that have impacted them in some type of way. I feel that the reason for many peoples’ successes is watching the success of others in front of you. It gives you the motivation and inspiration that anything is possible, and if they are able to accomplish their goals, then you can too. Now that I can see where the influencers of Oasis lead to, it opens up my mind to many more meanings and styles that this song could have come from. I would have never guessed that I would go from pop-rock to blues when tracing back.

Sources:

http://www.reasontorock.com/artists/chuck_berry.htmlhttp://www.aaronkrerowicz.com/beatles-blog/the-influence-of-chuck-berry-on-the-beatleshttps://mic.com/articles/116786/the-story-behind-oasis-wonderwall-will-make-you-like-it-even-more#.hXpSSYwXdhttp://louderthanwar.com/10-things-that-made-oasis-special/http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/02/02/was-the-beatles-music-really-that-unique-yeah-it-totally-was.html

http://chuckberry.com/biography/

http://teachrock.org/lesson/the-influence-of-rhythm-and-blues/

One thought on “Reverse Engineered Influences”

  1. wonderful connections. Your illustration of the Beatles connection to Chuck Berry is great. They borrowed many of his ideas throughout their career.
    And Rock n Roll would be nothing without Muddy Waters.

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