On this day, 3rd of March in the year of our Lord 2017, Ed Sheeran launched his new album ÷ (Divide, to the uninitiated. Ed is cool and talks in symbols). I feel I should make one thing clear: I didn’t, prior to the last couple of days, have any major beef with Sheeran. I like some of his songs and he is, as a popstar, almost alarmingly inoffensive. However this week has given me cause for concern. First there was the interview with The Guardian where Ed claimed that he had had a “battle” on his hands to even get Galway Girl on the album.
“They were really, really against Galway Girl, because apparently folk music isn’t cool. But there’s 400m people in the world that say they’re Irish, even if they’re not Irish. You meet them in America all the time: ‘I’m a quarter Irish and I’m from Donegal.’ And those type of people are going to fucking love it.”
Here we see not only Sheeran’s contempt for his own fanbase (“those type of people”) but his hollow and opportunistic attitude towards his own musical output. He does not even pretend that the addition of such a song is his own attempt at “reconnecting with his roots” (the Irish roots of his grandparents by the way – so I don’t think he has a leg to stand on when it comes to pouring scorn on the heritage claims of others) but unashamedly admits to being in it for the quick buck. Such honestly should, I suppose, be applauded however when it comes from the painfully earnest Sheeran it feels exceedingly calculated.
But all that pales in comparison to the song itself. For when I first read the interview I, in my eternal ignorance, presumed it was a cover of the other Galway Girl. You know, the famous one. However imagine my shock, awe and nausea when I heard well…listen for yourself…
So upon hearing the song I had many thoughts. Many of them angry. And they were simply too long to gather in a Facebook post so here they are:
“She played her fiddle in an Irish band”
That’s some start you’ve got there, Ed. Some start indeed. To be fair, it is extremely effective. It assures me that I will hate everything that follows – that every line and idea that will carry on from these here words will be naught but nauseating twaddle. Oh, and if you think I’m beyond reading a euphemism into that line Ed, allow me to tell you – you are sorely mistaken. It’s the only thing that got me through the rest of this WRECK of a song.
“But she fell in love with an English man”
“I met her on Grafton Street at the side of the bar”
Huh. The thriving pub scene isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when I think of Grafton Street there Ed, but hey! There is absolutely nothing else in this song that rings in any way true so knock yourself out.
Also can we just take a minute here to comment on how “SAVIOUR OF FOLK MUSIC” Ed Sheeran is just doing his normal Ed Sheeran shtick but with added FIDDLES. This is not what you promised me Ed.
“She asked me what does it mean, the Gaelic ink on your arm? Said it was one of my friend’s songs”
Now, before I start to hear sniggering from down the back, I will be upfront and say that even on my BEST day, I am in no position to criticise anyone else’s poor comprehension of the Irish language but HANG ON NOW. If he has a “Gaelic ink tattoo” the chances are it is one of three things:
(i) Eire go bragh
(ii) Tiocfaidh ár la
(iii) An bhfuil cead agam dul go dti an leithreas
And allow me to tell you Ed, speaking as one of these Galway girls of whom you sing so highly, my first instinct upon first glimpse of any of these is to RUN AS FAST AS I CAN INTO THE DARK NIGHT. Also, your answer of “oh it’s one of my friend’s songs” tells me everything I need to know about your dedication to Irish language and customs. As if there was anything left to tell me after I had to listen to this load of rhubarb.
“She took Jamie as a chaser, Jack for the fun, she got Arthur on the table with Johnny riding a shotgun”
Oh! Is…is…is she a bit of a DRINKER this Galway girl of yours Ed? Fond of her tipple?! This is in no way a clichéd characterisation, not at all! Please, continue your tale!
“Chatted some more, one more drink at the bar, then put Van on the jukebox and got up to dance”
Van Morrison…forgive the boy for…he knows not what he does.
Let’s go back to that chorus for a bit: “Kissed her on the neck and then I took her by the hand and said “Baby I just want to dance with my pretty little Galway Girl”. The nameless, faceless Galway Girl of this song appears to have little say in what happens to her on this night. One minute she’s making idle chit-chat by asking the ginger Englishman why he has an Irish tattoo and before she knows it, she barely has enough time to wipe his slobber off her neck before she’s carted off to the dancefloor because he has itchy feet
“Ed…it is Ed right? Yeah, Ed I’m actually not in the mood? I’m just going to head back to the bar if that’s alri-…”
“No you can’t! We’re having a great time and you’re my PRETTY LITTLE GALWAY GIRL”
“Ha! Ha. Yeah, I get that Galway girl joke a lot Ed. And the “pretty little” is a tad condescending. I’m just going to head away…”
“DANCE WITH ME. YOU’RE IRISH. YOU LOVE VAN MORRISON”
And on and on ad infinitum #PrayForTheGalwayGirl
“You know she beat me at darts and then she beat me at pool and then she kissed me like there was nobody else in the room”
Just a reminder: this is Ed Sheeran
Ed, mate. It didn’t happen.
“As last orders were called was when she stood on the stool after dancing to ceilidh singing to trad tunes”
Ed. You seem to have confused this Grafton Street pub of yours in 2017 with that of a public house in Newtownmountkennedy in 1956
“I never heard Carrickfergus ever sung so sweet acapella in the bar using her feet for a beat”
Using her…feet? For a…beat? For Carrickfergus?! Have you ever listened to Carrickfergus, Ed?
If your Galway Girl was tapping a beat to this bad boy it’s more likely she was morse coding an SOS to that guitar playing brother of hers to Get Her The Fuck Away From You
“My my my my my my my Galway Girl”
Ed Sheeran is a possessive weirdo and I won’t hear anyone say otherwise
“And now we’ve outstayed our welcome”
Oh Ed. You’re making this too easy for me.
“I was holding her hand, her hand was holding mine”
That “her hand was holding mine” seems like you’re desperately trying to make me believe this inebriated affection was reciprocated. It’s the desperation of the loser kid in school swearing blind he had a girlfriend over the summer when you weren’t around and couldn’t possibly have seen. I didn’t buy it then Ed and I ain’t buying it now.
“I walked her home then she took me inside to finish some Doritos and another bottle of wine”
Ed Sheeran’s idea of a wild end to a night tells us everything we need to know about Ed Sheeran. As indeed does this song: a hollow, calculated mess of the highest order. If you disagree with me and actually love it then, while I may never understand you, I am certainly happy for you. For you will be the only one not vomiting into your pint glass as this is played at every Irish wedding for the next ten years.
I hate the world.