For those who love Ed Sheeran, you are probably aware of who Passenger is. For those of you who don’t, Passenger is essentially the British Ed Sheeran. (Editor’s note: I believe Ed is also British).
I became a fan of Passenger when he opened up for Ed Sheeran at a concert I attended. I am a sucker for guys who can sing, play guitar and have an accent. When listening to music, I am highly fascinated by the meaning and inspiration behind the musician’s art.
When I attended the concert earlier this year, he told the audience who and what inspired some of his tracks. What I love most about the art Passenger creates is that he draws his inspiration from ordinary people like you and me, and delivers art with a purpose and meaning based on life experiences we can relate to.
Here is what I have learned about the meaning and inspiration behind his art:
‘David’, a track from Passengers latest released album, Whispers II, was inspired by a man Passenger would regularly see sitting on the stairs. Passenger said, “He would be drinking and smoking. I would sit with him a couple of times and have a cigarette. He was one of those guys that would forget that he has ever met me before and every time he would begin to me tell me his entire life story and it was a pretty sad story. By the end of the week, I knew him so well.”
Passenger’s track, ‘Travelling Alone’, also from Whispers II, connects two people from opposite sides of the world. The first half of the song, tells the story of a man from the Gold Coast, Australia, who sat down next to Passenger while he was busking and listened to him play for an hour.
Passenger said “When you’re busking, there’s something between you and the people you see. There’s something about it that draws interesting characters towards you. I was in Denmark. It was the first time I tried to busk there and I realised there was a very strict situation with street performers. I got turned down for trying to sell CDs. The next day I found a quiet corner, but the problem was that nobody really found me apart from this one bloke. He came over and sat against the wall in front of me. He closed his eyes and he listened for about an hour. It was really nice. It was lovely to be playing to a human instead of a wall. At the end, I was packing my stuff up and he come over and we had this chat. He told me this story about his wife. They were married for years but they never had the money to go abroad or see any of the world so they made a deal with themselves years ago that when the kids had grown up and they were retired, they would put some money aside every month and they would go and see the world together. They would go on this big adventure. So that’s what they did for months and years. Eventually, they were able to retire and their booked their flights, but a few months before they were meant to go, his wife suddenly became very ill and died. The man was in his 70s and had never been out of Australia before. He had just lost his wife, his best friend, and his life partner, but he still decided to go on this trip I guess as respect to her and respect to what they promised each other.”
Being someone who has travelled alone himself, and can relate to what this man was experiencing, Passenger walked away feeling distraught and decided to use this mans story as an inspiration for a song. Passenger was able to write half a song until he felt like there was nothing more he could add to it. He felt that he had already told the man’s entire story. Passenger would play this half a song over and over again, until a lady sat beside him and listened to him play this half a song, and burst into tears. She told him that she had just been dumped by her boyfriend who she had been with for years as he found another woman. “We had a chat and I wrote the other half of the song about her because I felt that different people at different stages of their life experience this extreme loneliness.”
’27’, a track from the first release of Whispers, was written as a form of inspiration for Passenger to take a step back to ask himself what he is doing with his life and if it is all worth it. “There was times when I was busking when it wasn’t all amazing. It wasn’t all a romantic journey of European cities. It was travel lodges, depressing cold sausage rolls at the train station, and missing your family and mates and wondering what you’re doing at the age of 27. I wrote this song to sort of cheer myself up and to spur myself to keep going.”
After learning who and what inspires Passenger’s art, I receive a greater satisfaction and enjoyment when listening to his music. I hope you do too.
Written by Brooke Gibbs