“Afire Love“, from Ed Sheeran’s x (multiply) album, is a very powerful song. I have connected with many of his songs over the years, but this one hits different. The reason this song is so powerful is because it tells a story within a story. It starts out with a boy talking about his grandpa dying of Alzheimer’s. The chorus shifts to the perspective of the grandpa’s wife telling the story of how they fell in love. By doing this, Sheeran is showing that you can think back to the good times rather than get defeated by the problems you may be facing now. Listening to this song can help give perspective to people who may be in a similar situation.
The most obvious technique he uses to deepen the meaning of this song is the constant switch in perspective. He starts the song through his own eyes singing, “I heard the doctors put your chest in pain, but then that could have been the medicine”. He then switches to his dad’s point of view in the pre-chorus. He says, “And my father told me son. It’s not his fault he doesn’t know your face. And you’re not the only one”. He is showing how the father is trying to make his child understand how sad the situation is. He wraps it up by writing the chorus through the eyes of his grandma. He says, “Darling hold me in your arms the way you did last night and we’ll lie inside a little while here, oh”. When he does this he is showing that a death has different effects on different people. Some may have a more innocent outlook (like him) and some may have a more positive outlook, like the grandmother.
Besides the constant switch in perspective, Sheeran also uses a metaphor that compares sickness and death to the devil. “Things were all good yesterday. And then the devil took your memory” and “Things were all good yesterday. And the the devil took your breath away”. While comparing the devil to death is relatively basic, he does it in a way that makes everyone think his grandpa was taken too soon. Saying that the devil took his life is a very intense way of saying that he died. It shows how horrible the death was for everyone because someone “passing away” sends a very different message from someone who’s breath is being taken by the devil. The final way Sheeran conveys the message of love and loss is the repetition in the end of the song. He sings, “And my father, and all of my family rise from the seats to sing hallelujah” . He then repeats this line but replacing “father” with “mother”, “sisters”, and “brothers”. By including every person in this ending, he is showing how the death has brought the family together. The message he wants to leave you with is that grieving can bring more love than ever before.