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Ed Sheeran Reveals What Inspired His New Songs

Though he’s slowly been releasing new songs (and music videos for those songs) off his new album Divide since January, Ed Sheeran finally released the much-anticipated album in its entirety on Friday.

Divide contains 12 tracks including hit singles “Castle on the Hill” and “Shape Of You,” while the deluxe version has four bonus tracks—bringing the grand total to a whopping 16 new songs. But if you’re craving even more Sheeran, you’re in luck—as the English singer-songwriter and Warner Music recently provided an album track-by-track, giving die-hard fans insight into the inspiration and process behind each of his songs. Here’s just some of what we learned from his breakdown.

It’s official—Ed’s a total romantic

Ed Sheeran released “How Would You Feel (Paean)” a few weeks ago, but now we know the story behind why he chose to include the Greek word in the song’s title. Apparently paean means “song of praise” but is also the middle name of his girlfriend, Cherry Seaborn. When talking about the track, Sheeran sheepishly explains that he recorded the track for Seaborn, who he’s known since high school, to keep her mind occupied during a long car ride to the airport. “Perfect,” the fifth song off the album, was also written about Seaborn, and the lyric “Barefoot on the grass / Listening to our favourite song” is apparently based on a real-life experience she and Sheeran had. And, their favourite song? Future’s “March Madness.”

“Happier” and “New Man” are pretty much complete opposites

We’ve all experienced it—you break up with someone only to have them send passive-aggressive messages when you start dating someone else. Sheeran says that even though most of his other breakup songs have been pretty petty and angry (“Don’t,” anyone?), “Happier” is written from a more mature perspective, about being able to admit that your ex has moved on and met someone else who makes them happy. “New Man,” on the other hand, is a tune that Sheeran bluntly describes as a “f–kboy anthem.” Apparently Sheeran and his writing partners sat down, listed a bunch of typical f–kboy traits, and turned it into a song. “Wears boat shoes with no socks on his feet / And I hear he’s on a new diet and watches what he eats / He’s got his eyebrows plucked and his arsehole bleached / Owns every single Ministry CD.” Yep, sounds about right.

Divide explores Sheeran’s family ties

Both “Supermarket Flowers” and bonus track “Nancy Mulligan” were written about Sheeran’s two grandmothers, the first who recently passed away and the second who experienced an epic, Romeo and Juliet-esque romance with Sheeran’s grandfather. “Supermarket Flowers” was written soon after his grandmother’s death and is told from the perspective of Sheeran’s mother. Sheeran was initially hesitant to play the song in front of his family or even tell them that the song existed, but ultimately decided to perform the song for the first time at his grandmother’s intimate, family-only funeral. “Nancy Mulligan” is understandably more upbeat, told from the perspective of Sheeran’s grandfather who talks about how he, an Irish Protestant, and his wife, an Irish Catholic, defied the odds and found love. Adorable.

“Hearts Don’t Break Around Here” is the song Sheeran thinks fans will like most 

After going back and listening to his previous two albums, Plus and Multiply, Sheeran realized that both albums featured “sweet, romantic love songs” that could have been hits but weren’t (“Kiss Me” and “Tenerife Sea.”) He decided that Divide was missing one of those songs and sat down to write “Hearts Don’t Break Around Here.” Sheeran explains that dedicated fans usually don’t choose something like “Thinking Out Loud” as their favourite song (he says it’s the type of song that moms listen to) and that even though “Hearts Don’t Break Around Here” won’t be the song everyone knows,  it’ll be a big hit among hardcore Sheeranites.

“Shape Of You” was a lot of hard work

By now, you’ve probably heard that “Shape Of You” was initially written for Rihanna. But what you may not know is that Sheeran spent more time working on “Shape Of You” than any other song he’s ever written. Because Sheeran had written the song with Rihanna in mind, he apparently had to work extra hard to tweak the song and make it more “like him.” Consequently, multiple different versions of the song were recorded. Obviously all that hard work was worth it, since “Shape Of You” is still reigning at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 Chart. If we’re lucky, maybe those early versions will resurface one day.