In this exclusive extract from new book Ed Sheeran: The Stories Behind The songs, music journalist Caroline Sullivan reveals the surprising tales of some of Sheeran's hottest hits over three albums.
SHAPE OF YOU
A track that started life intended for a female artist, 'Shape of You' became, in Billboard magazine's words, one of the “most dominant” hits since 1991. Funnily enough, Sheeran doesn’t especially rate the song. In the end, the song made it onto ÷ only because Asylum Records pointed out that it would be mad to omit it.
Sheeran rarely writes explicitly about sex but here, he more or less does. Originally titled 'In Love With Your Body', it’s about going drinking with friends and being in the mood for a spot of ‘sexy time’ with some- one new. Conveniently, he’s soon approached by a girl who makes it clear that she wants the evening to end in his bedroom. But he wants to chat first, while she wants him to cut the talking. That’s the kind of thing that happens when you’re a household name.
In consummate Ed style, he falls for his new friend emotionally. A night of unbridled passion is followed by a date a week later when he takes her to a cheap Chinese buffet. She seems to like it and they spend hours there, with the song concluding the next morning as he dreamily remembers what happened after they got home from the restaurant. Romantic that he is, he’s already a little in love.
THINKING OUT LOUD
He wrote 'Thinking Out Loud' for girlfriend Athina Andrelos, whom he had only known for a short time—he was at a “really happy point” with her when he wrote it, he revealed. Sadly, after a year together, they broke up. The last song to be written for x, in February 2014, it only came about because Amy Wadge, co-writer of the Songs I Wrote with Amy EP, was having money trouble and asked Sheeran if he would put one of their old songs on the deluxe version of x.
Wadge went to his house in London and, as she waited for Sheeran to get out of the shower, she began to strum his guitar. She came up with two guitar lines that Sheeran, on emerging from the shower, decided he liked and suggested they use it as the basis of a song. ■