"Thinking Out Loud"
None of the lyrics on British singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran's "Thinking Out Loud" actually include the traditional wedding vow words "for better, for worse." But that's exactly the determined spirit of lifelong faithfulness and commitment that it evokes. It's a song long on promises of resilient romance, the kind that patiently weathers whatever losses the decades might throw at two people growing old together.
Sounding something like a parallel-universe (and octaves-higher) reboot of Marvin Gaye's "Let's Get It On," Sheeran begins by wondering whether the things that age takes away will undermine his relationship with his beloved: "When your legs don't work like they used to before/And I can't sweep you off your feet/Will your mouth still remember the taste of my love?/Will your eyes still smile from your cheeks?"
The answer to those poignant, bittersweet questions in the balance of the track is a resounding yes!
"And darling, I will be loving you 'til we're 70," Sheeran promises. And he insists that the years won't do anything to blunt the ardor he felt the day they fell in love so many years before ("And baby, my heart could still fall as hard at 23"). Why? Because for him, every day is a new day to fall into and express his love ("Well, me—I fall in love with you every single day/And I just wanna tell you I am").
The litany of time's potential ravages continues in the next verse. They include hair, memory, fame and coordination. But the result is still mutual adoration: "I know you will love me the same/ … So honey, now/Take me into your loving arms/Kiss me under the light of a thousand stars/Place your head on my beating heart/I'm thinking out loud/That maybe we found love right where we are."
The portrait of long-term commitment Sheeran paints here is one of unconditional, unshakeable faithfulness. Even as minds and bodies grow old and weary, he tenderly observes that the essence of his beloved's identity, her soul, only flourishes more vibrantly through the years ("'Cause honey, your soul could never grow old, it's evergreen"). As for the images of younger years, they're forever locked safely away in his memory. And when it comes to the bad habits and mistakes made along the way, Sheeran playfully implies that love overcomes those too ("I'll just keep on making the same mistakes/Hoping that you'll understand").
God is never mentioned directly. But Sheeran hints at the Christian doctrine of providence, that everything is in keeping with the plans of a loving Creator, when he sings, "I'm thinking 'bout how people fall in love in mysterious ways/Maybe it's all part of a plan."
In a culture that so often emphasizes physical ecstasy in the immediate moment, Sheeran's lyrical focus on longsuffering love over the course of a lifetime is a refreshingly robust view of romance and relationship. What he's singing about here doesn't ignore a couple's physical connection. But the totality of the relationship he hopes to experience over the years is a much bigger deal to him than simply smoldering sex.
Lyrically at least. Because all that being said, the video for "Thinking Out Loud" is a more sensual, of-the-moment affair. In other words, more in keeping with what we're used to seeing from pop musicians. It features Sheeran dancing with a beautiful woman in an elegant ballroom. She's wearing a lingerie-like bustier and a see-through skirt as they pair traditional ballroom moves with some that are much more suggestive and caressing. (We even see them lying down on the dance floor in each other's arms).
It's Dancing With the Stars meets Victoria's Secret. And it adds a sexually suggestive layer to a song that's otherwise more romantic than racy.