English teachers should be proud of the fact that their students have become masters of literary analysis. Many of them just happen to be using those skills to interpret the meaning of Harry Styles' new song "Ever Since New York." After Styles debuted the song on Saturday Night Live, they're practically ready to write dissertations on the subject.
As we previously reported, when Styles first posted the track list from his upcoming album on Thursday, "Ever Since New York" was an instant object of fascination. Based on its title alone, a very vocal contingent assumed it must have to do with his brief 2012 relationship with Taylor Swift, the highlights of which took place in New York City. If Swift could write a thinly veiled song about "Haylor," then of course Styles could do the same on his solo debut.
That's not quite so clear anymore. For some, the melancholy nature of the song's melody and lyrics point to something much deeper than a tabloid romance. The second verse, in particular, gets pretty depressing. "Brooklyn saw me, empty avenues/ There's no water inside this swimming pool/ Almost over, that's enough from you/ I've been praying, I never did before/ Understand I'm talking to the walls/ And I've been praying ever since New York."
In an annotation for the song's user-generated lyrics page on Genius inthepinklike wrote, "Following the theme of desperation voiced in 'Sign of the Times,' the narrator contrasts their emotions with the September 11 attacks to express how tragedy can encompass feelings not limited to fear, spanning both relationships and intrinsic sentiment."
A fellow user, Momentous, disagreed that it has anything to do with the 9/11 terrorist attacks, but is instead about prayer: "His inability to talk with others has caused him to feel alone and begin praying or attempting to reach God. This was likely an important point in his life, as religion is a large part of his life. He has gotten a cross tattoo and a tattoo of the Bible, and often wears necklaces displaying the cross."
On Twitter, another fan surmised that New York stood for "the media," who pretend to know about his life but can't.
On the other hand, this might be our favorite theory.