366 Songs 065: Bonehead’s Bank Holiday

I’ve been listening to a lot of Oasis lately, for reasons that may (hopefully) become both known and more profitable than most re-listens to Be Here Now are, but if nothing else, it’s reminded me about “Bonehead’s Bank Holiday.”

Back when Oasis were a relatively new band and hadn’t yet succumbed to their own egos/crushing waves of cocaine/the collapse of their credibility, their productivity was so impressive that the vinyl versions of their first two albums had extra songs that didn’t appear on any other format (They’re still not available for digital download, either, which surprised me when I went looking). The first of those extra tracks, “Sad Song,” was a signpost for where the band was going to with their b-sides and second album (What’s The Story) Morning Glory?, a nice (if somewhat forced) melancholy centered around a more acoustic, melodic sound than the brashness of Definitely Maybe. The extra song on the Morning Glory, though, was “Bonehead’s Bank Holiday,” and that was… well, not really a signpost for anything.

What it was, according to Oasis folklore, was an attempt to do for bassist Paul “Bonehead” Arthurs what the Beatles had done on early albums for Ringo Starr – Namely, give him a novelty song to sing and play up the lovable dolt appeal a bit. Only problem was, Bonehead was so nervous that his attempt at dutch courage ended up with him too drunk to sing, and so Noel Gallagher ended up doing it instead, with the drunk Bonehead and Liam providing the intro and outro vocals as well, apparently, the “La la la la la la la lala la laaaaaa”s throughout the song.

Taken on those terms, it’s actually surprisingly good. I’ve actually always thought it a bizarrely charming song, something that works because it’s so sloppy. It’s a song where the fun you imagine in the studio is infectious, even if it’s also likely fake; the finished instrumental, after all, is surprisingly tight and probably the result of numerous takes and overdubs, which kind of lessens the “Hey, they’re just having fun!” feeling of the vocal. And yet, and yet… it is fun. It’s not a classic song, but the throwaway quality of it is what makes it work in a way that… oh, almost every other Oasis song after this album doesn’t, because they tried to be timeless and classic rock. This is just fucking about in the studio, and it makes me smile, and sometimes that’s all I want from my pop music.