May 12, 2017
Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you awesome songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, the sensational Ed Sheeran sings about how his struggling grandfather made a wedding ring from dental gold in his 2017 hit, "Nancy Mulligan."
The song details the wartime love story of his grandparents and how their relationship flourished despite religious differences and the objections of their families.
With the scene set during the Second World War, Sheeran recounts in his grandpa William Sheeran's voice how he fell in love with Nancy Mulligan at London's Guy's hospital. He was a struggling dentist and she was a nurse.
Sheeran sings, "On the summer day when I proposed, I made that wedding ring from dentist gold / And I asked her father but her daddy said no / You can’t marry my daughter."
"One was a Protestant from Belfast and [the other] was a Catholic from southern Ireland," Sheeran explained on the Beats 1 radio show. "They got engaged and no one turned up to the wedding."
Sheeran, 26, noted that his grandparents were so poor that they had to borrow clothes for their wedding and that the gold for his grandmother's wedding ring came from a collection of gold teeth his grandfather had collected during dental surgeries.
(Note: While gold used in jewelry is generally 14-karat or 18-karat and alloyed with copper, silver and zinc, dental gold is usually a 16-karat alloy containing palladium, silver, copper and/or tin.)
"[They] had this sort of Romeo and Juliet romance, which is like the most romantic thing. I thought I'd write a song about it and make it a jig," said Sheeran.
The couple was married for more than 60 years and had a profound impact on their grandson's life. William passed away in 2013, but Nancy remains a big fan of her internationally famous grandson.
"Nancy Mulligan" is part of the Deluxe Edition of Ed Sheeran's third studio album ÷ (pronounced Divide), and despite the fact that it wasn't officially released as a single, the song still managed to chart in 17 countries. Divide made its debut at #1 on the U.S. Billboard 200 chart. On the day of its release, the tracks from Divide achieved 56.73 million streams on Spotify.
Please check out the official audio track of Sheeran’s “Nancy Mulligan,” which has been viewed 32.3 million times. The lyrics are below if you’d like to sing along.
Written by Ed Sheeran, Benjamin Levin, Johnny Mcdaid, Foy Vance, Amy Wadge and Murray Cummings. Performed by Ed Sheeran.
I was 24 years old when I met the woman I would call my own
Twenty two grand kids now growing old, in the house that your brother brought ya
On the summer day when I proposed, I made that wedding ring from dentist gold
And I asked her father but her daddy said no
You can’t marry my daughter
She and I went on the run
Don’t care about religion
I’m gonna marry the woman I love
Down by the Wexford border
She was Nancy Mulligan, and I was William Sheeran
She took my name and then we were one
Down by the Wexford border
Well I met at her Guys in the second world war
She was working on a soldier’s ward
Never had I seen such beauty before
The moment that I saw her
Nancy was my yellow rose
And we got married wearing borrowed clothes
We got eight children now growing old
Five sons and three daughters
From her snow white streak in her jet black hair
Over 60 years I’ve been loving her
Now we’re sat by the fire, in our old armchairs
You know Nancy I adore ya
From a farm boy born near Belfast town
I never worried about the king and crown
Cause I found my heart upon the southern ground
There’s no difference, I assure ya
Credit: Ed Sheeran image by Lunchbox LP [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons