Harry Styles’ ‘As It Was’ Lyrics Include a Subtle Reference to Olivia Wilde—What the Song Means

Harry Styles "As It Was"
Photo: Courtesy of Harry Styles/YouTube.

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He’s back. Harry Styles‘ “As It Was” lyrics are as cryptic as ever, but leave it to fans to decipher the song’s meaning (and its secret reference to Olivia Wilde.)

“As It Was,” which was released on April 1, 2022, is the lead single from Harry‘s upcoming third studio album, Harry’s House, which will debut on March 20, 2022. The song, which is two minutes and 47 seconds long, was written by Harry and songwriters Thomas Hull and Tyler Johnson, who have also co-written songs like “Watermelon Sugar,” “Adore You,” “Golden” and “Falling” with the former One Direction member.

In an interview with Dazed in 2021, Harry—who has released two solo albums, 2017’s Harry Styles and 2019’s Fine Line, as well as starred in movies like Dunkirk, Eternals and the upcoming Don’t Worry Darling and The Policeman—talked about what it’s been like to balance both careers. “I like to challenge myself and do something different and movies are definitely where I feel most out of my comfort zone,” he said. “I’m coming from music where I don’t think anyone really knows how it works, but I am somewhat in my comfort zone! But in movies, when I show up, I’m the new guy. I haven’t been (an actor) for a long time and that’s really cool, I feel like I’ve learned so much and life is about learning.”

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He continued, “(With acting), you’re trying to remove a lot of yourself and key into someone else,” he explains. “On the most basic level, it’s like being a kid and you’re playing pretend. I am not a very confrontational person, I think I’m pretty chill, so then when you have a character who is like that, it’s fun to explore.” Though acting and music are different, Harry also told the magazine about how both passions have helped the other. “I think music and acting really aid each other in a lot of ways. In my experience, a lot of the time when I’ve gone to do a film I’ve felt like, ‘Oh, I’m probably not gonna do any music for a while because I’ll be so focused on that’. And then I actually find that, by the time I get home at the end of the day, I just write so much,” he said. “Any time you are looking at the world through someone else’s lens and exploring different emotions, it feels like a benefit in so many ways.”

But back to “As It Was.” So what do Harry Styles‘ “As It Was” lyrics mean? Read on for what we know about Harry Styles’ “As It Was” lyrics’ meaning and who the song could be about.

Harry Styles "As It Was"

Image: Courtesy of Harry Styles/YouTube.

What are Harry Styles’ “As It Was” lyrics about?

What are Harry Styles’ “As It Was” lyrics about? Though Harry hasn’t confirmed the meaning of “As It Was,” fans believe the song is about his relationship with fame and how his life isn’t “the same as it was” since he’s entered the public eye. “In this world, it’s just us / You know it’s not the same as it was,” he sings. The song also references Harry’s loneliness and concern from others as he isolates himself from the world. “Come on, Harry, we wanna say goodnight to you,” a voice says in the introduction of the song. “Answer the phone / ‘Harry, you’re no good alone / Why are you sitting at home on the floor? / What kind of pills are you on?” Harry sings in the second verse of “As It Was.” 

Harry revealed that the voice in the intro is his goddaughter, Ruby Winston, the daughter of filmmaker Ben Winston. “it’s my goddaughter at the start of the song,” he said in an interview on “Heart Breakfast” in 2022. “That streak of calling me every night before bed and I missed it once and she wanted to let me know that she was quite angry with me about it. And then I dug it up in the studio one day and added it to the start of the song, and it just kind of stuck. I loved it.”

Fans also believe the song includes a subtle reference to Harry’s relationship with Olivia Wilde, whom he started dating in January 2021 after he was cast as the lead in Wilde’s upcoming movie, Don’t Worry Darling. Their relationship came three months after Wilde’s breakup with her fiance, Jason Sudeikis, whom she shares two kids with: son Otis Sudeikis, 7, and daughter Daisy Josephine Sudeikis, 5. “Leave America, two kids follow her,” Harry sings in “As It Was.”

olivia wilde harry styles Harry Styles As It Was Lyrics Include a Subtle Reference to Olivia Wilde—What the Song Means

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While Harry didn’t reveal the inspiration for “As It Was,” he did confirm the song is about his personal life. “I try and write from personal experience for almost everything,” he said. “So, I think over the last couple of years with the forced pause that happened for a long time for all of us, I think I had a lot of time to kind of think about work out who I was, away from music and get a little more comfortable with that. I think that allowed me to make this album from a very liberated place.”

A source told In Touch Weekly in March 2022, that there’s a “really good chance” that Harry has written a song “about how he feels” for Wilde on Harry’s House but the track won’t be a traditional love song.”Don’t expect it to be straightforward,”the insider said. “He likes to keep his personal life private. But then again, he is in love, so maybe, he’ll surprise us with a song that’s all about his feelings for Olivia.” The source continued, “Harry isn’t known for penning songs about his personal relationships, even though ‘Two Ghosts’ is thought to be about his ex Taylor Swift, but the buzz is that there is a love song relating to Olivia on his new album. He likes to write in a general way, about his experiences, dreams, whatever inspires him, but nothing that points directing to a specific individual. That may have changed.”

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Another source told In Touch that Olivia is “is giving this relationship all she can because she truly wants to make it work. “However, it is not easy.” The insider went onto reference Harry and Olivia’s busy schedules, which have made their relationship difficult. “Olivia and Harry are both working on projects, and Harry has a million things going on. He just wrapped his North American tour and will start on his European tour shortly, so he will be in Europe rehearsing and working on music,” the insider said. According to the source, Olivia “balances her schedule with her children’s, as she has joint custody with their father,” Jason. The insider continued, “It’s tough for Olivia because in her heart she wants to be with Harry all the time, but it’s just not possible.”The source also noted that Olivia “puts her kids first and Harry respects that.” The insider continued, “They love their alone time of course, but Harry really enjoys being with Otis and Daisy. Harry and Olivia have something special, and they know it.”

In an interview with Dazed in 2021, Harry declined to comment on his relationship with Olivia and told the magazine that he like to keep his romantic and professional lives separate. “I’ve always tried to compartmentalize my personal life and my working life,” he said. On November 18, 2022, People reported that the “As It Was” singer and the Booksmart director had called it quits for now. Multiple sources confirmed to the outlet that the two were “taking a break.” One source People that Harry’s Love On Tour affected the status of their relationship. “He’s still touring and is now going abroad. She is focusing on her kids and her work in L.A.,” a source said. “It’s a very amicable decision.” The Don’t Worry Darling star and director are still “very very close friends.” However, their careers and family life are in two distinct places. “Right now, they have different priorities that are keeping them apart,” another source dished.

In an interview with Apple Music in 2022, Harry opened up about how he wrote Harry’s House in the “gifted” and “stolen time” of the pandemic. “For a really long time, I was terrified of what my life was if I wasn’t up here doing music, on a show, doing something. And then you’re faced with a time when you can’t do that,” he said. “I kind of stopped for a second and looked at what I turned to listen to and what I was watching and all that kind of stuff and was like, ‘What does it actually mean to make something? And what does it mean to me to make something as my job?’”

He also told Apple Music about how Billie Eilish’s success as a young artist in the “fickle” music industry led him to start Harry’s House. “I think being in the band, I’d always felt like we were really young… And I had a moment seeing [Billie] do this at such a young age where I felt like, ‘I’m not that young anymore.’ And for a while it was, how do you play that game of remaining exciting?” he said. In the end, Harry told Apple Music that he was “thankful” to Eilish who “broke the spell” of his perfectionism habits when it came to making music “This is so unbelievably liberating to go, ‘I just want to make good music.’ That’s it. That’s what I want to do. And everything else is what it will be. And that’s kind of it,” he said.

That realization led him to write Harry’s House. “I was kind of like, ‘I’d be really fun to make an album called Harry’s House,’ and thought about it being this smaller thing. And then it was back to that thing of, ‘Maybe that’s an album I’ll make in four years or five years or whatever.’ And as I started making the album, I realized it wasn’t about the geographical location. It’s much more of an internal thing,” he said. As for the sound of the album, Harry told Apple Music that Harry’s House was “more electronic in a lot of places than anything I’ve made, it’s also so much more intimate to me. And so much more intimately made.”

So what are Harry Styles’ “As It Was” lyrics? Read the full lyrics to Harry Styles’ “As It Was” via Genius below.

Harry Styles “As It Was” Lyrics


Come on, Harry, we wanna say goodnight to you

[Verse 1]

Holdin’ me back

Gravity’s holdin’ me back

I want you to hold out the palm of your hand

Why don’t we leave it at that?

Nothin’ to say

When everything gets in the way

Seems you cannot be replaced

And I’m the one who will stay, oh-oh-oh


In this world, it’s just us

You know it’s not the same as it was

In this world, it’s just us

You know it’s not the same as it was

As it was, as it was

You know it’s not the same

[Verse 2]

Answer the phone

“Harry, you’re no good alone

Why are you sitting at home on the floor?

What kind of pills are you on?”

Ringin’ the bell

And nobody’s coming to help

Your daddy lives by himself

He just wants to know that you’re well, oh-oh-oh


In this world, it’s just us

You know it’s not the same as it was

In this world, it’s just us

You know it’s not the same as it was

As it was, as it was

You know it’s not the same


Go home, get ahead, light-speed internet

I don’t wanna talk about the way that it was

Leave America, two kids follow her

I don’t wanna talk about who’s doin’ it first



As it was

You know it’s not the same as it was

As it was, as it was

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