Behind the Song Lyrics: “Thinking Out Loud” by Ed Sheeran

Since his first record release in 2011 titled + (pronounced “plus”), Ed Sheeran has produced some of this era’s most esteemed ballads. For his debut album, the English singer/songwriter penned the hit single “The A Team.” After this breakout success, Sheeran continued to produce heartachingly beautiful lyrics on all four of his currently released albums. Another example of the artist’s songwriting expertise is, of course, “Thinking Out Loud.”

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“Thinking Out Loud” was released in September of 2014 as part of Sheeran’s second studio album x (pronounced “multiply”). Sheeran wrote the song with friend and fellow British songwriter Amy Wadge. Sonically, this single maintains an overtly, and deeply romantic theme leading Sheeran to declare it as a “walking down the aisle song.”

At the time, Sheeran was reportedly in the throes of a blissful relationship with his then-girlfriend Athina Andrelos. In this state of mind, the meaning behind Sheeran’s lyrics becomes undeniably hopeful.

And darling I will be loving you ’til we’re 70 / And baby my heart could still fall as hard at 23 / And I’m thinking ’bout how people fall in love in mysterious ways / Maybe just the touch of a hand / Oh me I fall in love with you every single day And I just wanna tell you I am, Sheeran wrote.

Sheeran’s delivery of these passionate lyrics is backed by a soulful sound that the artist credits Van Morrison for his inspiration. “No one’s really channeled Van Morrison for a long time,” Sheeran said in a statement to Q magazine. “Everyone always channels, Michael Jackson and the Beatles and Bob Dylan, and I feel like Van Morrison is a key figure in the music that I make.”

While performing on stage in Ireland, Sheeran continued his explanation of the song: “With this next song [‘Thinking Out Loud’], this was never meant to be on the album. The album was completely done, finished, mixed, handed in and all the artwork was done. And I was having a break, I was having like a week off,” he began. “My friend Amy who I wrote some songs with, came up to my house to listen to the album and we were meant to go out for dinner that night. I went up upstairs and showered then came back downstairs and she had picked up a guitar and she was just strumming these chords and I thought that sounds really nice.

“I was brought up in sort of a Van Morrison music, and what is very common in Van Morrison’s music is that him just doing random words, anything. So over these chords, I was just kind of [scatting]… the song then kind of took shape. I remember recording it and being like ‘Wicked I’ve got a song for the third album’ and really thinking anything of it, and the more I listen to it, I’m like, ‘Right! Maybe there’s something in this song.’ I recorded it and it just ended up on the album. The album was released and it went into the charts without radio playing, and it just stood there for ages and it was my second number 1 here in Ireland.”

“Thinking Out Loud” would later win Song of the Year and Best Pop Solo Performance at the 58th Grammy Awards and achieve triple platinum certification in the UK. Its accompanying music video has over three billion streams.

Watch the music video for “Thinking Out Loud” by Ed Sheeran, below.

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