The Smiths – William, It Was Really Nothing


Attack of the Killer Track! is a series that explores tracks from artists from a variety of genres. Some of the tracks were singles, some of them were obscure b-sides or long forgotten album tracks. One thing is certain – all of them are killer tracks.

If anything, the last piece on Electrafixion reminded me that I haven’t written anything about one of my favorite bands, The Smiths. I can easily trace the progression, looking back on when I was a 15-year-old wannabe hipster – John Lennon & The Beatles, The Cure, Joy Division, Echo & The Bunnymen, and finally…The Smiths. The Smiths seemed to be an entire universe, a demographic of people. If someone knew The Smiths, you could be sure they were cool (indie hipster elitist alert!). The lyrics of Morrissey seemed to reach out to disaffected youth, the outsiders, the bookworms, the sensitive souls.  The music composed primarily by Johnny Marr was insanely memorable – a nice bonus. For me, it was a Godsend. I have fond memories of singing along to The Smiths at the top of my lungs. Some of those memories are from 20 years ago, some are from last week. How do I choose which song or album to feature, since I love everything? “William, It Was Really Nothing” was released as a non-album single in 1984. The lyrics may or may not be about Morrissey’s brief friendship with Billy MacKenzie, singer for the Associates (another band I adore). A jangly, catchy number, it features classic lyrics that you can sing along with after hearing the song just once. In other words, this is a quintessential song by The Smiths. The track hit #17 in the UK and was later re-released with different artwork as a single in 1988. The 12” record version of the 1988 release was etched with the statements “ROMANTIC AND SQUARE, ARE HIP AND AWARE” and “THE IMPOTENCE OF ERNEST”. The Peel Session version of this track was not included on the laughably titled The Smiths Complete box set, but you can find that on the 1987 single of “Last Night I Dreamt Somebody Loved Me”. That one boasts a slightly fuller sound, and is a nice contrast to the original cut (I prefer the original). At any rate, these songs will apparently be packaged and repackaged endlessly – it doesn’t change the thrill of hearing Morrissey sing “Oh, the rain falls hard in a humdrum town / this town has dragged you down / And everybody’s got to live their life / and God knows I’ve got to live mine”

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