“If you think rock ‘n’ roll,” he says, at last emerging from the cave of his phrase, “is about getting arrested…” “It’s about being yourself,” Noel replies reasonably, and that really sends Liam over the edge. “NO, IT’S NOT!” he says. He snaps off his words as if pronouncing a death sentence on rock clichés: “Rock ‘n’ roll’s about music. It’s not about you. It’s not about me. It’s not about Oasis.” He gets tougher by the minute–“SHUT THE FUCK UP!”–the usual after-the-show interview now life and-death and the interviewer indistinguishable from his tape recorder, that is, completely forgotten. “Because the Rolling Stones got arrested, they were a great rock ‘n’ roll band? Bullshit!” Noel offers a mild demurral, and again Liam is hammering his rhythm: “Music. Music. Music. Music. Music. Music. Music. Music. Music. Let’s talk about music!” Noel tries to get a word in about how, well, rock ‘n’ roll is more than music, all sorts of stuff comes with it, like, say, drugs: “That’s just being in a band.”
“That’s not being in a band,” Liam says, and now he is devastating, cutting through mystification with a scythe: “That’s part of fucking life.” “You’re up for that,” Noel says. “People are sat, right, in England, right now, in flats, across this country, whether it be Glasgow, Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds, Liverpool, Sheffield, in rooms like this,” Liam says, biting every word, the momentum building slowly, like a great speech, so that your heart stirs: “They’ve all got the drugs out! That is no big—that is a part of life.”
I’ve played this little bootleg far more times than I’ve played any real Oasis album, because on Wibbling Rivalry you can’t get out of the way, you can’t deny that something is at stake–and that Liam Gallagher will do whatever he has to do to get it across. Find me that on Be Here Now and I’ll listen to it again.
The same vehemence runs through David Lee Roth’s autobiography, Crazy From the Heat (Hyperion), like a train. Here he is, smilin’ Dave, the man who, no matter what he has or hasn’t done since Van Haien went on without him in 1985, will always have “Jump” in his pocket–the man who, in his glory days, wore stage suits once perfectly described as looking as if a whale had thrown up on them–here’s the happy-go-lucky Mr. “Just a Gigolo” himself, talking about interviews he’s done that begin, “So, you are a Jew?”
Nobody ever said to Mick Jagger, “So, Mick, you’re Episcopalian, aren’t you?” Nobody ever took Jimi Hendrix aside and said, “So, Jimi, you’re a Baptist, aren’t you?” Much less start off the interview that way.
Every step I took on that stage was smashing some Jew-hating, lousy punk deeper into the deck. Every step. I jumped higher ’cause I knew there was going to be more impact when I hit those boards. And if you were even vaguely anti-Semitic, you were under my wheels, motherfucker. That’s where the lyrics came from, that’s where the body language came from, that’s where the humor came from, and where the fuck you came from. All equally as important. You want to know the ingredients? Don’t ask if you don’t want to know.
I love that “and where you came from”–why you listened. I love knowing why, finally, I’ve never listened to “Jump” without grinning, without feeling more alive, even when it’s only two seconds running under the end of Melrose Place every week. I love it that David Lee Roth can prove his argument with his music far more than I hate the fact that Oasis can’t prove their arguments with their music. Maybe the point is that Liam Gallagher’s rant is on the record and most pop singers never get anything half as powerful down on tape.
Interview magazine, January 1998