I had notes prepared. I had the argument laid out in my head as to how the next few hundred words would all play out. But then, I started listening to the songs.

Oasis have another greatest hits collection, ‘Time Flies’, which is released next week. It features 39 tracks and comes with a dvd. But let’s not forget it is another greatest hits collection for a band flogged to death numerous times before.

Oasis, first and foremost, will be remembered in the pantheon of (English) music history as one of the defining aspects of the 90s, alongside ‘Girl Power’ and ‘Eurotrash’.

Oasis represented everything that was bad about music: they lived to excess; the two brothers, Noel and Liam Gallagher, hated each other; they were ‘ladrock’ personified. They were bolshie and loud. They shouted from the rooftops about how great they were. The amazing thing about it all is that people actually listened.

Half the (British) nation loved Oasis. The other half loved Blur, from what I can gather, having been only seven when the Britpop wars broke out in 1997.

In an NME feature of the band’s sold out 1994 tour (“To date, Oasis have only released their debut single, ‘Supersonic’, but their tour antics are already notorious. Travelling around the UK’s toilet venues in a van driven by Bonehead, they are flying the flag for rock ‘n’ roll decadence, leaving trashed hotel rooms, pissed-off porters and thrilled converts in their wake,” ran the intro), Noel Gallagher shared this pearl of wisdom with the world: “You want to write about shagging and taking drugs and being in a band.”

Noel continued the above statement by rubbishing a female fan’s interpretation of the lyrics to ‘Supersonic’: “Supersonic’ is about some fucking nine-stone geezer who got Charlie’d off his nut one night… it’s not about anything!”

A third and final quote from the guitarist, just so we know who we are dealing with here: “Music for me at the moment is DEAD. It’s poncey and serious and everyone’s gotta make some sort of statement, whether it be about ‘Parklife’ or their feminine side or their politics. But we’re a rock ‘n’ roll band- we say all you need is cigarettes and alcohol. Everyone’s dead into analysing, but don’t analyse our band. ‘That’s a good song, that is. What does it mean?’ Who gives a fuck what it means?”

It is this type of statement that gives people preconditioned ideas of Oasis: that they are a lad’s band, only for listening to when you are drinking. But obviously, this is far from the truth. The first album, ‘Definitely Maybe’ came out in August 1994 and was the fastest-selling début album at the time.

It still sounds like a classic. Starting with ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Star’, (duh) the album never fails to start a singalong. It never fails to get the juices flowing and make you fell on top of the world: king for 52 minutes.

However, despite Noel’s plea not to dissect the album, it is hard not to. Layers need to be discovered to make endless repeats of the album as interesting as the first time. Discovering something new about a song is one of life’s little pleasures. But there is no real depth here. “How does it feel when you’re inside me?” Liam coos on ‘Up in the Sky’. It does not take a genius to work out what could possibly be meant about the line.

But despite all this, I find myself enamoured with the record, and return to it every few months when the words escape. I do not discover anything new about the songs. I simply remind myself of the lyrics.

Of course, we will always have the follow-up, ‘(What’s the Story) Morning Glory?’, released to much acclaim just over a year after ‘Definitely Maybe’ with lines just as quotable as those from ‘Live Forever’.

Just take a look at ‘Wonderwall’. It is possible that the entire country could sing the entire song unaccompanied, such is its constant presence on the airwaves. Nobody needs to be prompted to sing it: it is one of those songs that, going on just a snippet, one could continue until the end. And you can tell the people who own the lp, because they hummed the outro with the guitar plucking perfectly intact, and then continued right into ‘Don’t Look Back in Anger’.

Then, Oasis went on to headline Knebworth. Three million people are believed to have registered for tickets, of which 250,000 were successful. It was August 1996 and Oasis played two nights to joyous onlookers who bellowed back the songs. Many fans say ‘I was there’ for notoriously small shows such as Nirvana’s show in Cork just before ‘Never Mind’ was released, or for Arcade Fire in the Olympia a few years back. Or, for Sex Pistols’ first show in London at the 100 Club. I did not attend any of these gigs.

In 1996, Oasis were in a position not seen since the days of the Beatles. They were unbelievably huge: dinosaur big. But then it all descended into chaos with bad decisions, and even more unforgivable, bad songs marring the band forever. ‘Be Here Now’ was released in 1997 to such great expectations that it was always destined to disappoint, but the degree to which it failed is spectacular. It sold well (just less than 700,000 copies in its first week, if you count that a success…), but the impression it left was clear.

A brief look at the names of the tracks reveal a band caught up in their own hype: ‘Magic Pie’, ‘I Hope, I Think, I know’, ‘Don’t Go Away’, to name but three. They sounded like a band trying to recapture everything that was great about ‘What’s the Story…’, while being forever high and inebriated. The Beatles’ references were explicit throughout the first few years of the band’s existence (‘I am the Walrus’ was a constant in the setlist), but with ‘Be Here Now’, the band referenced themselves. Oasis were a bad student cover-band, who could not even play their own songs anymore.

‘Standing on the Shoulder of Giants’ and ‘Heathen Chemistry’ followed in 2000 and 2002, but by then, the magic had been lost. Noel and Liam, once the voices of a generation, simply could not create magic anymore. They had jumped the shark. They had become a parody of themselves.

The singles from ‘Heathen Chemistry’ (‘The Hindu Times’, ‘Stop Crying Your Heart Out’, ‘Little by Little’, and ‘Songbird’) could only dream of holding a candle to their some of the A-grade material.

‘Don’t Believe the Truth’ and ‘Dig Out Your Soul’ were released to less and less fanfare in 2005 and 2008, respectively. The flame had long since burned out. How could Noel Gallagher think that the likes of ‘Lyla’, or ‘Shock of the Lightning’, could even come close to the golden years?

How do things stand in 2010? Well, Noel and Liam have not spoken since August last year, and the band is apparently finished, but this type of hope has been brandished before. It is not the first walkout the band has had to deal with in the past.

Liam has a fashion label called ‘Pretty Green’ and a new band called Beady Eye. He recently claimed to NME, the only outlet willing to give him a voice in the past few years, that, “Not a lot of people look cool these days, like my cool.” The dream has most definitely died.

Noel Gallagher is playing under his own name but, of course, he continues to flog the dead horse. Relevance does not seem to be a word in the man’s dictionary.

Recently, LCD Soundsytem’s James Murphy revealed that their third lp, ‘This is Happening’ is to be their last, at least under the LCD moniker. It is their third album.
Sadly, James Murphy did not offer this sage advice to the Gallagher brothers in 1996. Imagine if they had gone out in the blaze of glory that was Knebworth.

‘Time Flies’ is out on May 11. Let’s hope it is the final chapter in a tarnished life.