So many people are fighting for these lyrics interpretations 😥😥😥
1. Context is important in songs. “Olivia” wasn’t just about a girl. “Hey Angel” wasn’t a conventional love ballad. Music is, first of all, music. It is ABOUT music, refers back to music that has established a presence in its genre, shows what Harold Bloom called the “anxiety of influence.” “Olivia” is ABOUT love as much as it is ABOUT “Penny Lane.” “Hey Angel” is evoking obsessive love as much as it is an homage to “Bittersweet Symphony.” Honesty in music means an integrity to the truth of the music, and a smart understanding of it– of what music is trying to say, and how songs are linked. This is especially important for Harry, whose debut album is supposed to be heavily influenced by his understanding of rock ‘n roll. For instance, imho, the bass riff in “Ever Since New York” quoted from “Baby Blue” is intentional. By evoking it, ESNY is trying to influence our interpretation of ESNY, almost like an Easter egg thrown in to the music. Read the Wikipedia entry on “Baby Blue.” It’s a kicker.
2. Honesty in music doesn’t mean it’s literally autobiographical. Louis said his fav song in MITAM was “Love You Goodbye.” Did it mean Larry split up? We got a million hours of Next-To-You during MITAM promo. “End of the Day” wasn’t about a literal couple at a literal party. Pop music uses romantic imagination to tell stories in metaphors. Sometimes it’s darkly confessional. Sometimes it’s humorous. But always, the lyrics have been created by someone telling a story– they’re fictional. There may be truths in the sentiment of the songs; only the person who wrote it knows for sure.
3. Harry is a songwriter who likes shock and surprise. He likes jokes of all kinds– from dorky, groan-worthy jokes (“A cow says moo.”) to musical jokes. He likes writing provocative songs that invite speculation: “Something Great,” with Louis singing only the last lines, “Stockholm Syndrome” with its bondage imagery. It’s valid to speculate that “Carolina” is about cocaine. Harry probably anticipated this and enjoyed the thought of his fandom wildly speculating. He’s not going to tell. Who’s the “Sweet Creature”? He’s not going to tell (not until much, much later). Speculation SELLS SONGS. It’s great for business. It creates buzz.
4. There are a lot of ways to listen to songs. There’s the relaxed enjoyment of just having good music in your ears. There’s the intellectual understanding of musical theory and structure. There’s imagination about the true subject of the songs. In any case, I recommend not letting music cause any anxiety. Music, like creative writing or even non-fictional writing, is therapeutic for the artist. When Harry writes about heartbreak, he isn’t only reliving the heartbreak. In a way, he has made peace with it, and has transformed it into art. The fact that the lyrics seem so evocative and REAL means the songwriters did a good job. They made us FEEL something. Harry himself has moved on. We don’t need to feel angst for his life– he is a grown man, a professional artist. The music is exorcism for some ghosts, both in his personal life, and in his musical expression– these are songs that show his digestion and transformation of the music inside him. You can see how happy he was performing in the Today concert. The music is his craft and his livelihood. His obsession, now, is to present it well in performance, to do well in the charts, to collect accolades and respect. Remember this statement– doing well drives every aspect of his promo. His obsession isn’t the same as our obsession. The music is all new to us, but not to him. He has moved on. He is a musician, and it’s more important for him to get recognition as a musician.
Music is such an intimate way to communicate. It speaks to our imagination so directly and forcefully. It affects the most primitive parts of our brains, the limbic system, so closely tied to our instincts for survival: hunger, sex, fear, excitement, love, protectiveness. That’s why we have these unconscious and involuntary responses— it’s the damn nerves. Don’t blame yourself for responding to music the way you do. It’s built into your system, the way we all want to have good food and good sex. I want to send a little love to everyone who loves music in your own ways: you have feelings, you’re human, you’re alive. I love that you feel so intensely about music, because I do too.
Finally, it’s okay not to agree. It’s okay NOT to like Harry’s music. It’s okay to criticize the lyrics or music for artistic reasons. To me, being a fan means using my intelligence to judge merit for myself. Don’t beat yourself up for not liking something, and please don’t beat other people up. If you don’t like it, there are lots and lots and lots of other great music to listen to, I promise– music just as compelling, with just as great a backstory.