In a civil trial in New York, a jury will decide whether Ed Sheeran plagiarized Marvin Gaye’s Let’s Get it On by hearing him sing and play the guitar.
On Thursday, April 27, Sheeran spoke for around an hour while performing snippets of the song in question, Thinking Out Loud.
The British singer-songwriter revealed how he wrote the song about everlasting love in 2014, shortly after starting a new romantic relationship and after his grandfather passed away, while testifying as the first witness in his own defense before a crowded courtroom.
“I draw inspiration from a lot of things in my life and family,” said Sheeran, adding that the song was motivated by the affection he saw between his grandparents.
The 32-year-old is being sued by the estate of Ed Townsend, who collaborated with Gaye on the song in 1973.
The syncopated chord pattern in Thinking Out Loud, according to Townsend’s heirs, was lifted from Let’s Get It On. They are asking for a cut of the proceeds from the song.
On Thursday, Sheeran gave a nearly hour-long testimony in which he detailed how his friend and collaborator Amy Wadge began playing the song’s chords while visiting his house in England and how they had worked together on the lyrics.
He performed the line “I’m singing out now” on the witness stand, which he claimed to have sang during his songwriting session with Wadge. The sentence, which according to him sounded like “I’m thinking out loud,” eventually led to the title.
Sheeran remarked, “When I compose vocal melodies, it’s like phonetics.
He then took a guitar from behind the witness stand, began to play the song’s chord sequence, and sang the song’s first line, “When your legs don’t work like they used to.”
According to Sheeran, who testified in court, he like to work rapidly and writes the majority of his songs in a day or even just a few short minutes. He said that in the past, he has composed up to eight or nine songs in a single day.
The 2016 Grammy Award-winning song of the year, Thinking Out Loud, reached No. 1 in the UK and No. 2 in the US.
In a live performance they said amounted to a confession that he had plagiarized the song, Townsend’s attorneys earlier this week presented a video of Sheeran switching flawlessly between Thinking Out Loud and Let’s Get it On.
On Wednesday, one of the plaintiffs, Kathryn Griffin Townsend, the daughter of Townsend, fell and had to be removed from the courtroom, forcing the interruption of the trial.
Griffin Townsend passed out just as the Sheeran team was about to question a musicologist who had been called to the stand to claim that the two songs shared a lot of similarities.
Griffin Townsend said in a prior lawsuit that she brought it unwillingly but wanted to “protect my father’s legacy” and called Sheeran “a great artist with a great future.”
In a previous appearance as a witness, Griffin Townsend stated that Sheeran was “a great artist with a great future” and that she wanted to “protect my father’s legacy” but added that she had brought the case reluctantly.
Along with Townsend’s sister Helen McDonald and the estate of his ex-wife Cherrigale Townsend, she is one of three plaintiffs.
In 2003, Townsend died. 1984 saw Gaye’s passing.
On May 1, the trial is anticipated to continue.
One year ago, Sheeran was exonerated of accusations that he plagiarized his popular song Shape of You in a trial in London.