"William, It Was Really Nothing"


The song was written in June 1984. It was recorded at Jam Studios in London in July 1984, with producer John Porter. However, according to Andy Rourke interviewed by Filter magazine (June/July 2005 issue): "We recorded this one in an 8-track basement studio in Chorlton, Manchester for no money. The record company took it to London to remix it, but couldn't better it."

Another version was recorded on 1 August 1984 for the band's third appearance on John Peel's BBC programme (broadcast 9 August 1984), with producer John Porter.


single version {2:10}
"William, It Was Really Nothing" single, all formats
"Hatful Of Hollow" album
"Louder Than Bombs" album
• Australia "The World Won't Listen" double LP and double cassette
"Best...I" album
"Singles" album
"The Very Best Of The Smiths" [remastered 2001]
"The Sound Of The Smiths" [remastered 2008]


John Peel radio session 9 August 1984 {2:04}
• cd-single of "Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me"
Top Of The Pops 30 August 1984 [tv]
This television appearance is commonly found on video bootlegs. The performance is lipsynched so the audio is the original single version of the song.


The song has been done in concert 77 times by the Smiths, perhaps even up to 79 times if we take into account the fact that information is missing for a few setlists from the early years. It was played 22, perhaps even 24 times between its live inception in early June 1984 and the end of that year. The people who attended the Carlisle concert in early-mid June actually got to hear it twice: first as an instrumental then as a vocal version. All audiences but one were treated to it on the 1985 Meat Is Murder tour. The song was also done 4 times out of the 5 gigs the band had scheduled in early 1986, whilst between tours. The song was more or less given a break following this, at it was done 5 times here and there on the 1986 Queen Is Dead tour, plus one final performance at the Smiths' final show, a one-off affair at Brixton Academy.

live at Oxford Apollo 18 March 1985 {2:19}
• 12" test pressing of the aborted "Meat Is Murder" live EP

Morrissey played the song 22 times out of the 23 dates comprising the final two legs of the Tour Of The Tormentors MMVI, between November 2006 and February 2007.


No demos or studio outtakes of this song have leaked to the general public at this point in time.



"What 'William, It Was Really Nothing' is about is... 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: whenever there were 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'."
- Morrissey, source unknown