Dedication at private gig may have been more awkward obligation than a genuine desire to celebrate the prime minister
Those lamenting the absence of a new wave of political angst among younger generation’s songwriters shouldn’t raise their hopes too high, after one of its leading exponents dedicated a song to David Cameron at a recent gig - even if it was a number about a prostitute addicted to crack.
The incident would have shamed the likes of the punk poet forefather Bob Dylan, and the 23-year-old singer’s tribute sounds as if it were more of an awkward obligation than a genuine desire to celebrate the Conservative leader.
“I was playing this gig at some guy’s house and it was a very, very intimate environment, and they stopped the gig and I only had one song left. He was like ‘I’m so happy that you came here Ed. Obviously David Cameron is here, would you dedicate a song to him?’ And I was like ‘Oh … I’ve only got The A Team left to sing’,” Ed Sheeran told reporters at his Amazon Front Row event in London on Tuesday. “That was interesting.”
The song that followed was the 2011 single written about Sheeran’s experience volunteering at a homeless charity, and tells of a woman who sells her body on the streets in order to pay for drugs. “Cause we’re just under the upper hand/And go mad for a couple grams/And she don’t want to go outside tonight,” he sings over a simple acoustic guitar.
Perhaps Sheeran, who is reportedly worth £5m, wasn’t fully aware that homelessness has increased sharply under Cameron’s tenure as prime minister, fuelled largely by benefit cuts and rising rents. A joint study last year by the charity Crisis and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation revealed the total number of homeless has risen by 34%.
Other artists have been less keen on the prime minister’s interest in their work. When Paul Weller heard that Cameron adored the Jam’s Eton Rifles - a track inspired by unemployed Right to Work marchers in 1978 who were jeered by Etonians - he told a journalist in 2008: “Which part of it didn’t he get? It wasn’t intended as a fucking jolly drinking song for the cadet corps.”
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