On Sunday, I missed two early morning phone calls from my mom. My immediate instinct was to assume something horrible happened. Like many of us who have older family members who do not have the luxury of working from home, I assumed either she or some other loved one tested positive for covid-19, and what was once a remote fear had become something we’d now have to figure out how to live around. But in my anxious reading, I failed to consider her own: she was simply checking in to see if I had everything I needed and to make sure I was okay, having forgotten the time difference. It was a scary way to wake up, and the exact opposite of how I rose this morning: to the peaceful meditation of Harry Styles’s Tiny Desk Concert, an incredibly charming way to begin the week.
My admiration for Styles is well-documented on this site and beyond, but his four-song mini-set at NPR’s D.C. headquarters feels like something new entirely. It’s not hard to find stripped-down versions of the singles from his most recent album, Fine Line—the former boy band leader has been making the rounds on late-night television and radio sessions for months now—but this hits differently. Perhaps it’s his choice to begin with the soft, four-part harmonies of “Cherry,” or that Styles’s speaking voice is as velvety as the one he sings with, but I found all 20 minutes of the special to be soothing.
I wonder if the clip would strike me as so peaceful if it arrived at a time free of a global pandemic, and maybe it would. But as it stands today, it is the kind of feel-good performance I (and probably my mom, if I’m being real) could use right about now. I really recommend giving it a listen.