Oasis’ “Don’t Look Back in Anger” Lyrics Meaning

It should be noted (before the analysis of “Don’t Look Back in Anger” even begins) that its writer, Noel Gallagher, has himself stated he doesn’t know what it means. And why? Because he wrote it while being under the influence. In fact he later stated that, in a metaphorical sense, the song “came from somewhere else”.

What we do know is that some of the lyrics were heavily influenced by the works of the late John Lennon. But outside of that, we can say, based on the title and the chorus, that this track is based on the idea of not being caught up in negative aspects of the past. Indeed that’s how “Don’t Look Back in Anger” has been generally interpreted by the (British) public.

So basically what we have here is the case of a high singer/songwriting putting together a song from a number of random inspirations. And some of these inspirations include his favorite artists, his personal past and casual imaginings. But ultimately it turned out to be one of the most-respected hits in UK history. And the message supposedly contained therein speaks to a universal truth tantamount to espousing the practice of forgiveness and getting over the past.

Lyrics of "Don't Look Back in Anger"

Music Video

This official music video to “Don’t Look Back in Anger” (which can be viewed above) was directed by famed English film/video director Nigel Dick. And it features the late British actor Daniel Macnee (1922-2015).

And FYI, Oasis’s drummer, Alan White, met his (future) wife, Liz Atkins, on the song’s music video set.  

When did “Don’t Look Back in Anger” come out?

Creation Records released this Oasis classic on 19 February 1996. It served as single number 5 from the band’s famed second album, “(What’s the Story) Morning Glory?”

Writing Credits for “Don’t Look Back in Anger”

“Don’t Look Back in Anger” was written solely by Noel Gallagher and was actually the first Oasis single in which he served as the lead vocalist. In fact brother, Liam Gallagher, did not perform this song without Noel until mid-2017.

True Success

The track proved to be a massive success, one which Oasis used on all of their setlists. For instance, shortly after its release, it topped both the Irish and UK Singles Charts. And even though it only peaked at number 55 in the United States’ Hot 100, the song performed well internationally, including breaking the top 10 in Finland, Iceland and Sweden. It further went on to score an additional number 1 in Scotland.

This song has also made a number of distinguished lists, including placing at number 1 on NME’s ranking of the “50 Most Explosive Choruses”.

Inspiration/Source of Song’s Title (“Don’t Look Back in Anger”)

The title of the track was derived from a song David Bowie dropped back in 1979. That song is entitled “Look Back in Anger”.

Furthermore, the song was also directly influenced by the works of the iconic British singer and activist John Lennon. One of Lennon’s works from which “Don’t Look Back in Anger” was influenced were the late singer’s memoir and an intro inspired by his 1971 classic “Imagine”.

“Don’t Look Back in Anger” now part of British Tradition

Many consider “Don’t Look Back in Anger” as England’s unofficial national anthem. For example, it was the de facto theme song the British public used to memorialize the victims of the Manchester Arena bombing, which took place on 22 May 2017.

Indeed this track has had an enduring pop media presence (i.e. being featured on television shows and the like), especially in Britain.

“Don’t Look Back in Anger” Covers

Since this classic’s release, many an artist has covered it. Some notable covers include the following:

  • Japanese rock band Glay’s version in 2011
  • American rock band The Killers’ version in 2012
  • American band Portugal. The Man’s version in 2017
  • American musical duo 21 Pilot’s version in 2019

Below is Twenty One Pilots’ famous cover of this classic. The duo performed the song live at at 2019’s Reading Festival.

Ariana Grande and Chris Martin perform “Don’t Look Back in Anger” Live

Another very notable cover of this Oasis classic was done by Ariana Grande, Chris Martin and Jonny Buckland of Coldplay. That famous performance took place in 2017 during the One Love Manchester benefit concert.

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