“Cast No Shadow” by Oasis
This song was written by Noel Gallagher about his friend Richard Ashcroft, former frontman of the highly-successful 1990’s Britpop group The Verve. It is said to be in response to a song The Verve released about Noel Gallagher a short time earlier entitled “A Northern Soul”.
Neither of these songs are meant to be diss tracks. Indeed Noel said that Richard was close to tears when he played him “Cast No Shadow”, and their friendship lasted for decades after these songs were released.
However, let’s just say that in both cases the writers may not have been overly concerned with portraying the subject of the song in a positive light per se, choosing authenticity and getting a message across over discretion.
That being said, “Cast No Shadow” depicts Richard Ashcroft as a tormented soul. On one hand he is portrayed as the “every man” who is “walk(ing) along the open road of love and life, surviving if he can”, which sounds like it can be any of a number of us. But in the refrain, we see that his “words” are equated with “weight(s)” which “bound” him. And he also seems to be someone who is obligated to a life which he does not truly desire. Moreover the chorus states that he had “his soul” taken from him and that his ‘pride was stolen’. And in both cases, what these terms can allude cannot be anything positive.
That brings us to the title of the song, which is present at the refrain and chorus and states “as he faced the sun he cast no shadow”. There is no definitive way based on the lyrics of this song to ascertain what this metaphor means specifically. However, given the aforementioned comments which lead up to this statement, chances are it is not anything positive and likely alludes to the idea of Ashcroft not getting his proper due in life.
What Noel Gallagher has said about “Cast No Shadow”
In fact when further elaborating on the meaning of the song, Noel Gallagher explained that Ashcroft indeed inspired the song. According to him, Ashcroft wasn’t living a happy life and he therefore decided to pen this classic for him. Below is a statement from Gallagher about the meaning of “Cast No Shadow”:
In a 1995 interview Gallagher had with Select Magazine, he added more flesh to the above statement. According to him, Ashcroft almost cried when he first played “Cast No Shadow” to him. He went on to say that in addition to the song being inspired by Ashcroft, it is in a way telling the stories of all “his friends who are in groups”. According to him, he and his friends find themselves “bound with the weight of all the words” they have to say.
So even though this track may appear introspective on the surface, it is actually very interpersonal.
When did Oasis release “Cast No Shadow”?
The band released this classic through Creation Records on 2 October 1995. It was as part of their iconic second studio album titled (What’s the Story) Morning Glory?
Who wrote “Cast No Shadow”?
The song was written and produced by Noel Gallagher, with him being assisted on the production side by Owen Morris.
Has Richard Ashcroft ever said anything about this song?
Yes, he has. Ashcroft once referred to this classic as one of Noel’s best songs, though he also admits that he is not sure what the titular phrase actually means. Ashcroft’s personal theory is that it may allude to himself being “so thin” that his body was unable to cast any shadow.
Noteworthy Info: Interestingly enough Noel Gallagher and Richard Ashcroft did eventually get into a beef in 2018, almost 25 years after “Cast No Shadow” was released. And even more interestingly, Noel’s well-known enemy, his brother and former Oasis band mate Liam Gallagher, was also involved in the beef (on the side of Ashcroft).