The first time I heard this song I was in the middle of falling in love again. It was late spring in Dublin, the days slowly but steadily filling with the heat of summer, and I remember listening to it while walking through St. Stephen’s Green — marveling at all the people who were picnicking and lying shirtless in the grass, soaking up the sun after surviving the long, harsh winter.
The person I was falling for was a friend I’d known for years, even though in the months prior I’d been certain I was never going to feel that way about anyone ever again. My friend was back home in the Philippines, while I was literally half a world away, living off 70-cent hummus and crackers so I could afford poetry books, trying to assemble a dissertation portfolio out of chapters from a novel I didn’t know how to end. My friend was sweet; I was unprepared.
The two of us messaged, occasionally at first, then with increasing frequency — talking about semi-obscure movies we discovered we both liked, trading poem recs and funny selfies and new songs, keeping each other company on days when the world was too much for either of us to face alone. I got into the habit of keeping my phone in my hand when going out by myself, and I’d text my friend with a grin on my face while dodging lampposts on the sidewalk or crossing a busy street. The day I realized what all my warm feelings towards them might mean, I panicked. You can’t, I told myself. Not them; not this.
The very first lines of “Never Stop” are This is my love song to you / let every woman know I’m yours, sung above the clash of guitars and drums in almost a defiant roar — and when I first heard them, I was struck by how bold the statement was right out of the gate. As a writer and as a person, I’m rarely that straightforward in articulating what I mean or want. But this song resonated with me — because, in the deepest recesses of my heart, it was voicing everything I wasn’t allowing myself to admit, even to myself.
It’s a song that is entirely barefaced in its emotionality, and unafraid to be really fucking loud about it. My favorite part is the bridge: the line You still get my heart racing for you, but repeated so the ending of each line rushes right into the beginning of the next. You still get my heart racing, you still get my heart racing for you still get my heart racing. There’s a heady breathlessness to it that to me feels so precisely like tumbling headlong into a crush — a feeling that, these days, I’m trying to let myself embrace or at least be more patient with, instead of automatically trying to push it down and lock it away. Life, I think, is too short to keep being embarrassed by earnest emotion, or to keep denying your heart the space to feel.
I’ve since fallen mostly out of touch with my friend — somewhat ironic maybe, given that I’m back home now and the two of us are on the same side of the world again. I never told them how I felt, but that’s okay; maybe it’s just that we needed each other at that point in time the most. And if anything, it reminded me that it’s still possible for me to feel in this all-consuming, terrifyingly beautiful way — that whether I’m curled up in bed at night with my phone or walking alone through a city suffused with sunlight, I might be right around the corner from feeling dizzy with happiness about someone new. That part of me is standing at a crosswalk somewhere, just waiting for the light to change — earphones in, heart racing, this song blaring loud and clear.
(Song recommendation by Stef Tran)