Tell Me Something I Don’t Already Know

Happy Easter! Happy Day After Harry Styles Performed on SNL! I love Easter because of things like the moment I experienced below when I ran to the beach at dawn. I dislike Easter because people still find it clever to make fun of the most holy day in a world religion with zombie jokes. It is offensive, sure, but mostly it is just boring and unoriginal.

Easter and the performance of Harry Styles on SNL got me to thinking, you guys. Specifically about how I want to more actively disengage from critique or mockery of things that I dislike and amplify voices that are celebrating what they love, including my own. The number of people writing today and tweeting last night how WILD and UNPREDICTABLE it is that Harry Styles turns out to be a tremendous solo artist. It is almost as if there weren’t millions of people worldwide expressing (sometimes screaming at top volume) this sentiment for seven years.

But Harry Styles had to look and sound like this for some people to finally consider the possibility that his music is worthwhile.

Harry Styles performs “Ever Since New York” on Saturday Night Live, April 2017.

I am a big fan of One Direction and especially of Harry Styles whom I think has a beautiful voice, once-in-a-generation rock ‘n roll charisma, increasingly strong songwriting skills, and either a genuinely good heart or an exceptional publicist. This is a very commonly held set of beliefs. If you don’t know the songs listed on here, please trust me that they are good and they get incrementally better as One Direction grew up, with “Walkin’ In The Wind” being a reliable tearjerker that I have elaborate theories involving prog rock about that I can post about later (you should be so lucky, frankly).

Even Rob Stringer at Columbia Records (Harry’s label) said a few weeks ago to Billboard, “We have a record we’re incredibly excited about and it’s not far away from being ready. We obviously want everything to be beautifully done, because we think he’s here to stay. Harry has stepped up with the vision of someone who’s authentic.” The credits below are to songs Harry co-wrote, many of them excellent, and all of them sung (among MANY others) in a particular and noteworthy voice, the artistic instrument of choice for vocalists:

What people mean when they say “authentic” is varied and usually inaccurate but it is often said in contrast to that which is saccharine, manufactured, intentional, and other things that are marketed to and loved by very young women. When I had a minor internet incident in November because I poked fun at a political podcast that some people are like, really into, I was informed that my One Direction interest (and my non-existent 35 year old-ness, alcoholism, nor Botox addiction )automatically disqualified me from any sort of serious discourse:

I foolishly tried to make the case that I had other credentials that made me qualified to speak on the matter which was silly because liking One Direction was not a DISQUALIFICATION and, in hindsight, I should have just muted all related conversations because it was all over a like, very gentle Twitter jab at a podcast which didn’t deserve nearly the airtime it got. Twitter is terrible, lesson learned (repeat x1,000,000).

So I don’t make fun of as many things as I used to on Twitter, partially out of fear of rogue from podcast stan vigilantes or like, Trump voters, but partly because I’ve found that it isn’t(forgive my sentimental word choice) life-giving.I don’t mean profoundly unethical political takes from prominent figures or brutal takedowns of racist casting. That is about accountability, not cruelty as entertainment. But I have witnessed too many pile-ons for minor transgressions, I’ve watched people gleefully share cruel pans of articles and books and even tweets that weren’t doing much harm and weren’t coming from especially powerful people. I am not especially compelled to drag someone who’s already relatively low to the ground.

A line in the song above is “And I’ve been praying ever since New York” which I have been too, to some extent, since I moved upstate. And what I’ve prayed for is a better heart with more room for love in it, and a better brain, with more room for love in it too. I want to know what people love, what makes them smile like they’re in candids from Disneyland or especially peak MDMA moments at Coachella, what makes them momentarily glimpse why some people believe in God, what makes them believe love is a real thing, and maybe that it’s all we have. I already know that people say stupid things on the internet and write books that don’t connect enough dots for enough people and that they write some bad articles with worse headlines. I already know that being mean is easier than being kind and both of those are easier than being right.

The chorus of the song above is “Oh, tell me something I don’t already know” and I’m taking it as a direct instruction, a sort of belated New Year’s Resolution. There is miraculous love out there to behold, but we find it not when facing the darkness of the tomb or the mud through which we drag the unworthy, but when we look slightly above our eye line, to what people are holding up. The risen, of a sort.

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