The Smiths - William, It was Really Nothing - 1984

The Smiths - "William, It Was Really Nothing" (1984)

The Smiths were a seminal British indie rock band from the 1980s, known for their jangly guitar sound and the distinctively melancholic lyrics of lead singer Morrissey. "William, It Was Really Nothing" is one of their most famous tracks, released in 1984. The song is a concise and energetic piece, characterized by Johnny Marr's vibrant guitar work and Morrissey's emotive vocals. This song, like many of The Smiths' works, encapsulates the mood of 1980s Britain and has influenced countless bands and artists since.


"William, It Was Really Nothing" was released as a single in August 1984 and later included in the compilation album Hatful of Hollow. The song is often celebrated for its brevity and wit, and it has been interpreted as a commentary on the banality of everyday life and the complexities of human relationships.

Music and Lyrics

Musically, the song is driven by Johnny Marr's jangling, arpeggiated guitar line, which became a signature sound for the band. Morrissey's lyrics are both melancholic and ironic, a style that he became renowned for. The song's narrative revolves around the character William, but its true meaning has been the subject of much speculation and debate among fans.

Impact and Legacy

This track remains a fan favorite and is often cited as one of The Smiths' best songs. It's a fine example of their ability to blend catchy melodies with thought-provoking lyrics. The song's enduring popularity underscores The Smiths' status as one of the most influential indie bands of the 1980s.

Interactive Tasks

Quiz: Questions on the song

In what year was "William, It Was Really Nothing" released? (1984) (!1979) (!1982) (!1987)

What is the distinctive musical feature of "William, It Was Really Nothing"? (Johnny Marr's jangling guitar) (!Morrissey's use of synthesizers) (!Extended drum solos) (!Orchestral backing)

Which album features "William, It Was Really Nothing"? (Hatful of Hollow) (!The Queen is Dead) (!Meat is Murder) (!Strangeways, Here We Come)

What is a central theme of the song? (Complexities of human relationships) (!Political unrest) (!The beauty of nature) (!Technological advancements)

Who is the lead singer of The Smiths? (Morrissey) (!Johnny Marr) (!Ian Curtis) (!Robert Smith)


Create a memory game with matching pairs for this topic. Insert suitable texts (at least 5 pairs) using exactly the following format, write only the text and leave no characters out, do not transform anything into a table, etc.

The Smiths Indie Rock Band
1984 Release Year of "William, It Was Really Nothing"
Morrissey Lead Singer
Johnny Marr Guitarist
Hatful of Hollow Album Featuring the Song

Open Tasks


  1. Research The Smiths: Find out about the other members of The Smiths and their contributions to the band.
  2. Create a Playlist: Make a playlist of songs that have a similar sound or theme to "William, It Was Really Nothing."
  3. Song Analysis: Write a short paragraph about what you think the song is about.


  1. Cover Version: Record your own cover version of "William, It Was Really Nothing."
  2. Lyrics Interpretation: Analyze the lyrics of the song and discuss what they could symbolize.
  3. 1980s Music Trends: Explore how The Smiths' music was influenced by or influenced the music scene of the 1980s.


  1. Songwriting Challenge: Write your own song inspired by The Smiths, focusing on lyricism and melody.
  2. Music Video Creation: Create a music video for "William, It Was Really Nothing" that captures the themes of the song.
  3. Band Biography: Write a detailed biography of The Smiths, including their formation, major works, and impact on music.

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Oral Exam

  1. Song Influence: Discuss how "William, It Was Really Nothing" reflects the cultural and social atmosphere of 1980s Britain.
  2. Comparative Analysis: Compare and contrast "William, It Was Really Nothing" with another song by The Smiths in terms of theme and musical style.
  3. Band's Legacy: Explain how The Smiths have influenced modern music, citing specific examples.
  4. Morrissey's Lyrics: Analyze the poetic nature of Morrissey's lyrics in "William, It Was Really Nothing" and how they contribute to the song's impact.
  5. Musical Evolution: Trace the evolution of indie rock music, discussing how The Smiths contributed to this genre.

OERs on the Topic


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