Saturday, November 15, 2014

Track of the Week: The Smiths "William It Was Really Nothing"

I got really sick this week, so sick that I actually went to the doctor.  The last time I'd done that was five years ago, so this was a serious problem.  When I get sick I feel vulnerable, and I often return to the music I loved during my adolescence, during that most vulnerable period in a person's life.  As I sat in my chair tired from coughing and waiting for the meds to take effect, I put on The Smiths, the band I went to for wallowing in my emotions as a young man.  I listened to the grab bag collection Hatful of Hollow, whose eclectic nature makes it a good, basic Smiths album to listen to.

So many of the songs have resonated with me over the years, but it was "William It Was Really Nothing" that first hooked me as a sixteen year old.  I was just a smidge too young to have heard them in their 80s heyday (I didn't get into interesting music until 1990 or so), but an older kid on my high school debate team was obsessed with the Smiths and evangelized them so forthrightly that I gave them a shot.  I bought a compilation, and the second song was "William It Was Really Nothing."  The first lines hit me like laser beam "The rain falls hard on a humdrum town/ This town has dragged you down."  Living at the time in a humdrum town that had been dragging me down, I felt instant kinship with Morrissey and the Smiths.

It's not one of their greatest songs, just a short little fast-paced vignette that's gone before it starts.  Nevertheless, the music and words perfectly evoke the quotidian experience of living yet another mundanely dissatisfying day in a dreary place you want to leave but can't.  There's no one horrible thing that's happened to you here, it's just that each and every passing day chisels away part of your soul.  I am sad to say that I have lived in more than one place that did this to me, but am glad to say I broke out twice.  This song provided me a lot of comfort in both humdrum towns.

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