Every song off Harry Styles‘s self-titled debut album is a stunner — the grand balladry of “Sign of the Times,” that listen-once-and-you’re-hooked bass line in “Carolina,” the soft refrain of “Sweet Creature,” etc. But none of those three are his favorite, if he had to choose, and his stand-out track on the album is one of his most vulnerable tunes yet.
In an intimate conversation that took place at the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles on September 15, Styles — chatting with producer Jeff Bhasker and Cameron Crowe, who wrote the Rolling Stone cover story about his solo breakout (and wrote and directed a little movie called Almost Famous, maybe you’ve heard of it) — opened up about the album and its impact on him. He revealed that his favorite way to listen to music is on his own, and that his favorite songs off Harry Styles are the ones that have the strongest personal ties to him.
“The last song, ‘From the Dining Room,’ is the most personal to me, and I think my favorite one,” he said. The song — rife with regret, a longing for a lost love, and one lyric in particular that grabs the listener’s attention — starts out with Styles barely singing above a whisper, and it swells to a string-backed crescendo before wrapping the record on a quiet note. It’s not a bummer, necessarily, but the undertones are dark — which leads Styles to say the slow, sad stuff isn’t necessarily what makes a great track for him.
“I think it’s just as important to have songs that are fun and make you feel great, and I think that’s just as important as everything being moody and deep and meaningful.”
He also gushed about One Direction, and how his solo work isn’t necessarily a departure from the music he made with 1D, but a pure expression of his standalone tastes and (sorry) style. “I didn’t go into making the album or leave the band coming out of it feeling suppressed, or feeling like I never got to write what I wanted to write,” he said. “I loved being in the band so much and got to learn so much, and with this, I felt like I could just have a good time working out what it would sound like if I made an album.”
So, there you have it: Harry Styles is a direct line from the mind and heart of Harry Styles to all those who press play, and all of that can be heard in his favorite song from the record and the lessons he learned while writing it.