“It occurred to me that within popular music if ever there were any records that discussed marriage they were always from the female’s standpoint, female singers singing to women. There were never any songs saying ‘do not marry, stay single, self-preservation,’ etc. I thought it was about time there was a male voice speaking directly to another male saying that marriage was a waste of time … that, in fact, it was absolutely nothing.”
“William, It Was Really Nothing” was one of those songs that hooked me immediately after the first listen. Something about it almost commanded me to play it over and over again till the jangly acoustic guitar line was etched into my brain.
I’ve always been a fan of Morrissey’s songwriting as it’s something I identify quite strongly with. The melodramatic, melancholy characters he creates give me a sort of outlet to express feelings that are hard to share with others. If I’m ever feeling down, I can just put The Smiths on shuffle and feel less alone. Their music is an emotional painkiller for me.
On a much lighter note, there’s some really interesting things going on in this song. The way Morrissey structures his lyrics is rather unusual; pull up any songs he’s written with The Smiths and you’ll see that he tends to write in full sentences. It’s hard for me to think of any other musician’s who wrote individual songs this way, let alone anyone else basing their entire body of work off this style.
While the lyrics are fantastic, the music is equally brilliant. Johnny Marr’s jangly guitar part provides a sort of counter to the morose lyrics. The guitar and vocals go hand in hand and simultaneously accompany one another. The interplay between the two is where the song’s magic comes from.
Instead of the song being a depressing slog, it’s sad music that you can dance to, and that just so happens to be my favorite kind of music.