“William, It Was Really Nothing” is a song by British band The Smiths. It was released as a single on 20 August 1984, featuring the B-sides “Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want” and “How Soon Is Now?”, and reached number 17 in the UK Singles Chart. The song is featured on the compilation albums Hatful of Hollow and Louder Than Bombs as well as other best of and singles collections. In 2004 the song was ranked number 425 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 greatest songs of all time.
The original artwork depicted comes from an early 1980s advertisement for A.D.S. speakers (the object on the bed is a speaker). For legal reasons, later pressings were produced with new artwork, a lilac-tinted still of Billie Whitelaw from the film Charlie Bubbles, directed by Albert Finney. The sleeve for the 1988 CD single reissue shows Colin Campbell from the 1964 film The Leather Boys. This artwork had previously been used in Germany for the single “Ask”.
When the band performed the song on Top of the Pops, Morrissey ripped open his shirt to reveal the words “MARRY ME” written on his chest (“Would you like to marry me?” is one line of the song).
“What Difference Does It Make?” is a 1984 single by British band The Smiths. The single version can be found on the band’s self-titled debut album The Smiths. A different version recorded for the John Peel Show on BBC Radio One is featured on the compilation album Hatful of Hollow.
Morrissey has stated that “What Difference Does It Make?” is among his least favourite Smiths songs. However, it became one of the band’s first significant chart hits, peaking at No. 12 in the UK.
The song is recognised by the opening riff by guitarist Johnny Marr and the falsetto by Morrissey towards the end of the song.
The character Ray Smith in the Jack Kerouac novel, The Dharma Bums, repeatedly says “What difference does it make?” as well as “Pretty Girls Make Graves.”
“This Charming Man” is a song by the English rock band the Smiths, written by guitarist Johnny Marr and singer/lyricist Morrissey. It was released as the group’s second single in October 1983 on the independent record label Rough Trade. The song is defined by Marr’s jangle pop guitar riff and Morrissey’s characteristically morose lyrics, which revolve around the recurrent Smiths themes of sexual ambiguity and lust.
Feeling detached from and unable to relate to the early 1980s mainstream gay culture, Morrissey wrote “This Charming Man” to evoke an older, more coded and self-aware underground scene. The singer explained of the song’s lyrics, “I really like the idea of the male voice being quite vulnerable, of it being taken and slightly manipulated, rather than there being always this heavy machismo thing that just bores everybody.”
Although only moderately successful on first release—the single peaked at number 25 on the British singles chart, “This Charming Man” has been widely praised in both the music and mainstream press. The single was re-issued in 1992, reaching number 8 on the UK singles chart (making it the Smiths’ biggest UK hit by chart position). In 2004, BBC Radio 2 listeners voted it number 97 on the station’s “Sold on Song Top 100” poll. Mojo magazine journalists placed the track at number 1 on their 2008 “50 Greatest UK Indie Records of All Time” feature. It has also reached Silver status in the UK.
“There Is a Light That Never Goes Out” is a song by the British alternative rock group The Smiths, written by singer Morrissey and guitarist Johnny Marr. It was originally featured on their third album The Queen Is Dead (1986). The song was released as a single in France in 1987, but in other territories – including the United Kingdom – was not released as a single until 1992, five years after The Smiths split up. It reached number 25 on the UK Singles Chart. Morrissey released a live version of the song as a double A-side with his cover of Patti Smith’s “Redondo Beach” in 2005 – this version reached number 11 in the UK charts. The song has received considerable critical acclaim, and is viewed by some[who?] as one of the greatest songs of all time.
“That Joke Isn’t Funny Anymore” is a song by British alternative rock band The Smiths. It appears on the album Meat Is Murder, the sole track from the album to be released as a UK promotional single. The song was composed by guitarist Johnny Marr and singer Morrissey.
The track has been cited by Marr as one of his favourites of The Smiths’.
The song’s narrative alludes to mockery of the lonely or suicidal, whom the narrator identifies with and champions in an exchange in a parked car. Disparity between literal and figurative meanings in some of the lyrics discourage a precise reading of the song. A sexual liaison “on cold leather seats” has been said to be sketchily implied. (Morrissey has been quoted as finding leather car seats “highly erotic”.)
The song’s waltz-time related signature and Marr’s rhythm guitar, with strident chord changes (as exemplified by the song’s opening figure), lend the music a sweeping emotive feel. The song’s structure is notable for its uncommon ABCBC form. (Musically, the first verse is never repeated.)
“Sweet and Tender Hooligan” is a song by The Smiths, recorded in 1986, and released as a single in May 1995 by their American record company Sire Records. It was released to promote the compilation album Singles.
Whereas WEA in Europe opted to re-issue the 1986 “Ask” single to promote Singles, Sire thought it wiser to put out a single containing rarities, even though none of them featured on the actual compilation, as neither “Sweet and Tender Hooligan” itself nor its supporting tracks had been previously released as a single. The title track had previously been recorded for the BBC and included on the 1987 compilation Louder Than Bombs and the 12″ of “Sheila Take a Bow”; “I Keep Mine Hidden”, “Work Is a Four-Letter Word” and “What’s the World?” were previously hard-to-find B-sides to earlier singles “Girlfriend in a Coma” and “I Started Something I Couldn’t Finish” (both 1987).
The lyrics describe the lenient sentencing of a hooligan, with the narrator sarcastically taking the side of the criminal, saying “and he’ll never ever do it again / of course he won’t / not until the next time”.
“Suffer Little Children” is a song by the English rock band The Smiths, that was included on their eponymous debut album in 1984. The song is about the Moors murders that took place on Saddleworth Moor, which overlooks Manchester, between 1963 and 1965. At the time of their murders many of the victims were only a few years older than Smiths’ frontman Morrissey (b. 1959), who wrote the lyrics of the song after reading a book about the murders, Beyond Belief: A Chronicle of Murder and its Detection by Emlyn Williams. It was one of the first songs that Morrissey and Johnny Marr wrote together.
After the song was re-released as the B-side of the single, “Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now”, the Manchester Evening News reported that relatives of the Moors murder victims had taken exception to the lyrics, in which three of the victims are mentioned by name. Some newspapers also claimed that the single’s sleeve photo of pools winner Viv Nicholson was intended to resemble Myra Hindley.
Subsequently the high street chains Boots and Woolworths withdrew both the album and single from sale. However, Morrissey later established a friendship with Ann West, the mother of Moors victim Lesley Ann Downey, after she accepted that the band’s intentions were honourable.
Although five children were murdered in the Moors case, only three are named in the song: John Kilbride (“oh John you’ll never be a man”), Lesley Ann Downey (“Lesley Ann with your pretty white beads”), and Edward Evans (“Edward, see those alluring lights”). The murders of Keith Bennett and Pauline Reade were not attributed to Myra Hindley and Ian Brady until 1985, after “Suffer Little Children” had already been released.
The title of the song is a phrase found in the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 19, verse 14, in which Jesus rebukes his disciples for turning away a group of children and says:
Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.
“Stop Me If You Think You’ve Heard This One Before” is a 1987 song by The Smiths.
The Smiths’ song, written by the usual combination of Morrissey and Johnny Marr, came out on the group’s 1987 album Strangeways, Here We Come.
The song was originally supposed to be released as a single and a music video was filmed by the director Tim Broad, and opens with a picture of the poet Oscar Wilde hanging on a brick wall, and features scenes of the group-iconic Salford Lads Club and surrounding areas being bicycled through by the lads and friends. Because of a reference to “plan a mass murder” in one lyric it was banned from daytime airplay by the BBC because of the then recent Hungerford massacre, so the band decided not to release it in the UK, however it was released in various other regions including North America, Europe, Australia and Japan.
“Stop Me If You Think You’ve Heard This One Before” was subsequently included on the compilation album Stop Me and on The Very Best of The Smiths. The song is also included in the music game Rock Band 3.
The cover of the single is a picture of British actor and singer Murray Head from a film still of the 1966 film The Family Way (a movie that would also be the source of the photograph on the cover of I Started Something I Couldn’t Finish). There are four different versions of the cover, each tinted a different colour (red, orange, blue and grey) depending on the region.
“Some Girls Are Bigger Than Others” is a song by The Smiths, recorded in autumn 1985 and first released on their 1986 album The Queen Is Dead. It was also released as a single in Germany.
As with every original Smiths recording, the music of “Some Girls” was composed by Johnny Marr and the lyrics were written by Morrissey. The recording was given a distinctive intro by engineer Stephen Street, who increased the reverb on the drums, faded the track in then out again, and took the reverb back off when reintroducing the song: “A bit like opening a door, closing it, then opening it again and walking in”. The lyric paraphrases Johnny Tillotson’s 1962 single “Send Me the Pillow That You Dream On”, and broadly references the 1964 comedy Carry On Cleo (“Oooh, I say”).
“Some Girls Are Bigger Than Others” was played live only once, at the final concert by The Smiths, at Brixton Academy, London, on 12 December 1986. The performance, which included a verse not used in the studio version, was recorded and later featured as a B-side on the 12-inch and cassette edition of the “I Started Something I Couldn’t Finish” single in November 1987.
Amateur footage of the entire concert has since appeared online.
“Shoplifters of the World Unite” is a song by The Smiths. It was released as a single in January 1987, reaching No. 12 in the UK Singles Chart. As was often the case with Smiths singles, it did not appear on an original studio album. It can be found on the Louder Than Bombs, Singles, The World Won’t Listen and Sound of The Smiths compilations.
Another newly completed song, “You Just Haven’t Earned It Yet, Baby”, was originally intended to be the A-side of this single. The single even made it to the white label test pressing stage and approximately 900 stock copies of the single were manufactured before the proper single was issued. This aborted single mix can be heard on the UK compilation The World Won’t Listen, while the song was later remixed for the American compilation Louder Than Bombs.
The title alludes to the communist slogan “Workers of the world, unite!”, and the 1966 David and Jonathan hit ‘Lovers of the World Unite’. The sleeve features a photograph of a young Elvis Presley that was taken by James R. Reid.
During a 1987 interview with Shaun Duggan, Morrissey explained the meaning of the song as follows: “It’s more or less spiritual shoplifting, cultural shoplifting, taking things and using them to your own advantage.”
Musically the song bears a strong resemblance to the T.Rex song “Children of the Revolution”. Both Morrissey and Johnny Marr are Marc Bolan fans, and Marr has admitted in an interview that the melody for a previous Smiths single, “Panic”, was copied from “Metal Guru”.
The heavy metal band Pist.on recorded a cover of “Shoplifters of the World Unite” on their 1996 album Number One.
South African band Sugardrive covered the song on a 2002 holiday album. The Santa Sessions.
Morrissey has said that this is his favourite Smiths song. He has frequently played it live since 1995.