The most common definition of innocence is a time in which one is pure and not yet exposed to the immorality of the world. This theme is often distinguished in works of literature to demonstrate the growth of a character. However, there are many alternative ways to interpret innocence.
In his new single “Castle on the Hill”, Ed Sheeran flashes back to his childhood in his hometown. Carrying a very nostalgic sentiment, this number is extremely unique in that it connects to the illustration of loss of innocence. In the first verse, Ed has fond memories of running around as a six year old, oblivious to the wonders that the world has to offer. In the pre chorus, Sheeran sings, “Found my heart and broke it here / Made friends and lost them through the years / And I've not seen the roaring fields in so long, I know I've grown / But I can't wait to go home” to truly signify his growth as a person. At first, his biggest concern is “running from [his] brother and his friends” through a field, but soon he is beginning to enter the complicated sphere of emotion and feeling known as love. His transition is further noticed in the second verse when he says, “Fifteen years old and smoking hand-rolled cigarettes / Running from the law through the backfields and getting drunk with my friends / Had my first kiss on a Friday night”. Slowly but surely, Ed is getting involved with the adult world which is indicative of his journey through adolescence. Sheeran even mentions in the pre-chorus, “We found weekend jobs, when we got paid / We'd buy cheap spirits and drink them straight / Me and my friends have not thrown up in so long, / oh how we’ve grown” to demonstrate the way that he and his friends have come so far from their childhood days of leisure and simplicity and are beginning to venture into the reality of life. In the bridge of the single, he talks about his friends in the present who are struggling to keep a job, overdosing on drugs, and finding a soulmate. In the final chorus, he travels back to the past one last time and ultimately describes innocence as a time, “When we did not know the answers”.
This composition is a rollercoaster of emotions between the polar worlds of childhood and adulthood. Through his life, Ed Sheeran explains the experiences and difficulties of growing up, making and losing friends, and searching for a lover. It is such a simple work of art that explains the most beautiful message: Enjoy and cherish your innocence. Make the most of the carefree times and “watch the sunset over the castle on the hill” with someone who you love. Never hesitate because one day, you will wake up with real responsibilities and difficult decisions to make. But until that day, live it.