Recently, Ed Sheeran released his studio album “Divide”. In my circle of friends, a lot of songs from the album emerged out as “good” and “favorite”. Some claimed Eraser to be the best while others could not stop listening to Supermarket Flowers.
Divide as a whole is a beautiful work of art but one song that stayed with me is “Nancy Mulligan”. If you listen to the songs at one go, you can sense a tourist tune on the album. A voyager that Sheeran became some time ago, he has not just penned down beautiful lyrics but also recorded the tune of the various places he went to during his escapade.
Now, Sheeran is Irish (by blood) so he wasn’t really a tourist in his homeland. This is one of the reasons why I fell in love with Nancy Mulligan. The song is about his grandfather and his grandmother.Through this album, he is retracing his roots and his parents’ home seems to be a perfect place to start with.
If you listen to it carefully, the song has a classic Irish folk tune. It’s not a song you sleep with but a song you dance on.What makes this track fascinating is the selection of music. Sheeran could have sung it as an acoustic track but he chose a storytelling format. Nancy Mulligan gives you a feeling of community. In the background, people can be heard screaming, clapping and cheering to William Sheeran.
When a friend of mine heard his track on my request, she commented: “it sounds like a nursery rhyme”. That’s the point!
Nursery Rhymes are specially produced tracks. The tune and rhythm are crafted to make it easy for kids to remember the songs or poems. Ed Sheeran’s track does the same.
As you listen to the words, the rhythm gets registered in your head. One listen is enough to make you remember it. This is evident from the repetitiveness and rhyming scheme of the words.
She was Nancy Mulligan
and I was William Sheeran
She took my name
and we were one
Down by the Wexford Border
Music has always been a method of passing on stories. Communities have used the genre of folk music to pass on their “legacy” to the future generation. The same storytelling can be seen in Sheeran’s track. Nancy Mulligan does not seem to a song that a person listens to when he/she is alone. Instead, it’s a song William Sheeran sang to Ed and now Ed is singing to us.
A lot of work has gone into producing this beautiful album. Probably, this is the reason it has unanimously won everyone’s heart upon its release. If you still haven’t heard the track, listen to it now: