I have loved Ed Sheeran for just as long as I have loved J. Sure, you can mock me for sounding like every other preteen girl in the world, but I’ve never shied away from my love of pop music. My affinity for acoustic guitar was born after listening to my first John Mayer album (or maybe my high school boyfriend playing something from the first John Mayer album) and has only bloomed since then. While that relationship did not last, my love for guitar and nostalgia-inducing musicians only grew.
On Monday, three hours before the pre-sale opened, I perched up in front of my battle station (comprised of J’s computer and my laptop), Ticketmaster pre-loaded and prayed to the acoustic guitar gods for a little luck. In a brush with fate, I somehow managed to land two lower bowl tickets for Ed Sheeran in Chicago – and I vowed to not ask for anything else for at least a month.
Some of my fondest memories have an Ed Sheeran soundtrack. In fact, one of the first times I met J’s best friends, we went to his one friend’s apartment before going to the bar and we all gathered around a couple of guitars – I was absolutely dumfounded by their acoustic version of A Team (and insane talent). Unfamiliar with Ed Sheeran, I quickly became hooked, and the rest, as they say, is history.
His music quickly became a regular rotation in my iTunes, later adding all of his albums to my playlist on Spotify. I purchased X the morning before our flight to Germany – almost three months after its release. J and I were embarking on a one-month backpacking trip through southern Europe. Somewhere on the train ride between Austria and Italy, I heard Thinking Out Loud for the first time. I instantly welled up and yanked out a headphone to plug in J’s ear. I kept it together for fear of being laughed at by the American family we were sharing our cart with, but every time I hear that song, I can still picture the Austrian alps racing past my window. It is one of my favourite memories.
Fast forward through an amazing backpacking trip, a holiday to Montréal to visit one of my best friends, an engagement, Christmas and a surprise wedding, and we were embarking on our family-later-turned-honey-moon. After eloping in my sister’s living room and celebrating with a room full (literally) of our favourite people, we said our I do’s, went to see Vance Joy during a blizzard a few days later (see, I love most acoustic crooners) and one week after the nuptials we were on a plane to Barcelona for a family cruise. One of my favourite nights was when I went back to the room earlier than J, grabbed a glass of wine from our cupboard and sat on the balcony while we cruised past Tenerife (and listened to Tenerife Sea, naturally).
Castle on the Hill was the first track I heard from Divide and almost immediately after listening to the whole song through, I booked my flights home for this spring, tagging my high school besties in a Facebook status update. I reminisced on our bad haircuts, weekends spent drinking in Lawrencetown and nights around the campfire, laughing. This song is high school love, heartbreak and best friends in less than four minutes.
When I first heard Divide, I fully embraced all of the different sounds Ed was trying out, but when Barcelona started playing I couldn’t believe how perfect it was. Reminiscent of our elopement and escape to Barcelona, I was transported to one my favourite memories with J: watching couples dance in a square just inside the Gothic Quarter while we drank sangria.
Ed is so good, he makes me nostalgic for moments that haven’t even happened yet. If you don’t know, my little sister is getting married in Jamaica in a month and a half (you probably already know this because I talk about it obsessively). I know Bibia Be Ye Ye is technically Ghanaian but I feel like it has a Caribbean vibe and makes me daydream of days on the beach surrounded by family. While it hasn’t happened yet, you can believe I listen this song while picturing all of the good times to come.
This post is by no means crowning myself as #1 in the Ed Sheeran fan club (Sheerios… I think they’re called?). It’s more of an open letter to a musical magician who has the ability to make a girl from a fishing village in Eastern Canada relate to his stories from around the world. The main thing I love about Ed Sheeran is that no matter where I am – in Chicago with its skyscrapers, Nova Scotia with my family, sailing through Tenerife, or somewhere between Salzburg and Venice on a train – it always feels like home when I’m listening to his music.