THE 50(ISH) GREATEST ALBUMS OF ALL TIME

The End of The Story (Morning Glory)

And so we come to the end.

When I set out to write about the 52 best albums of all time, I genuinely had no idea what I would write about each record. They were chosen completely at random and the content was influenced by either the album itself or what was going on in my life that week.

That is, all except one. I knew what I would write about when it came to (What’s The Story) Morning Glory? Typical then that it would be the very last album to be randomly chosen — you couldn’t write it. Well, I could, because I have been doing. All year.

I knew what I wanted to write about because Oasis are a quintessentially Mancunian band and What’s The Story is one of the all time great Manchester albums. So, I wanted to write about Manchester and what it means to be Mancunian. To make one thing clear, I am officially from Stockport. But that’s never stopped anyone from claiming to be from Manchester. Being a Manc is a state of mind, they will say.

Photo by Surya Prasad on Unsplash

I also now live in Glasgow, but a few weeks ago I took a trip home. My trips back have been fairly limited the last couple of years thanks to Covid and it is funny to see what changes. Sometimes it’s a physical change (the regeneration of Stockport town centre), sometimes it’s perspective (that massive field where we went for bonfire night as kids no longer seems so huge and imposing).

Some things remain the same, of course. It was nice to be able to order a “sausage barm with red sauce” and not be asked to repeat myself. It was nice for there not to be a follow-up question; square or links? No disrespect to the Scottish delicacy of square sausage, by the way, but it is a relief to open your mouth and not be conscious of your accent. It’s a funny thing, being English (or Mancunian) is something I rarely think about in Glasgow. It is only when I come home, and I am no longer guarded about it, that I realise everyone sounds like me here.

Don’t get me wrong, I love where I live. I love my friends and family I have here with all my heart. But I am from Stockport and I grew up in Manchester — and that is not something you forget quickly.

You can take the boy out of Manchester, as they say. But what does it mean to be Mancunian? Well, there’s a few things. Firstly, you must have an undeniable, borderline blind, borderline unreasonable, definitely arrogant, swaggering love of Manchester. Secondly, your opinion of Liverpool must be as close as possible to the opposite (all in jest. Of course). You should have a love of music, football, fun and above all else, having a good time. Manchester is a place where a table is for dancing, as they say.

Photo by Artur Kraft on Unsplash

But, similar to Glasgow, there is also a strong sense of community in Manchester. And that links to the second reason I knew what to write about when it came to this record.

On 22nd May 2017, at about 10:30pm, a home-made shrapnel bomb was detonated at an Ariana Grande concert. 22 people, several of them just children, died. 1,017 people were injured. As Manchester came to terms with the horrific aftermath of a terrorist attack, one song could be heard everywhere. It was Don’t Look Back In Anger. Undoubtedly already a Mancunian classic, this concentrated response cemented the song as a representation of everything that it means to be from Manchester and the surrounding areas. I don’t think the lyrics mean anything close to it, but the song came to represent solidarity, strength, unity and everything that makes Manchester wonderful. Don’t look back in anger, we’re bigger and better together than they will ever be.

On that same evening, as a major incident was called, my wife (then my girlfriend) was working a night shift in the A&E department of Manchester’s children’s hospital. I cannot even begin to comprehend the unspeakable horrors that she must have witnessed that night but I do know one thing; I am extremely, irrepressibly proud of her. The stoicism and bravery she showed on that night and shortly afterwards was, and continues to be, an inspiration. In the days that followed the terrorist attack, the crushing feeling of devastation around Manchester was matched only by the outpouring of love, creativity and genuine empathy for those who had been affected. In short, it made me honoured to be a Mancunian.

Photo by camilo jimenez on Unsplash

The idea for this project was born during the Covid-19 pandemic. We started the year in lockdown and we look to be finishing it with the threat of further restrictions looming. In the last two years, whilst I have sat at home with extra free time working and writing, my wife has continued to go out to work, in extremely difficult conditions, and save people’s lives. She won’t like it, (she is aggravatingly, exhaustingly, humble) but there is no other way of putting it, she helps save lives. That is what she does for a living.

And so I wanted to end this year, and this project, with a huge thank you to anybody who works in the NHS and elsewhere on front line, especially my wife.

We are none of us superhuman, but some of us are superheroes.

Thanks for reading — over the course of 2021, I’ll be reviewing 50(ish) of the greatest albums ever recorded. You can see the list here:

There is also a playlist featuring the best song from each album here.

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