Ed Sheeran plays guitar in court as he tries to prove he didn’t copy Marvin Gaye track
Ed Sheeran got his guitar out in a Manhattan courtroom on Thursday as he gave evidence in his copyright trial.
Sheeran sang and performed a brief rendition of his track Thinking Out Loud during his testimony, in a trial that will decide if the song violates copyright on Marvin Gaye’s Let’s Get It On.
The mini-performance began an hour into his testimony, when he was asked by his layer to explain how he came up with the track, which hit number one in 2014 in more in a dozen countries, including the UK, US and Ireland.
He reached behind him to grab his guitar, telling the jury writing a song was second nature to him, adding he uses his own version of phonetics to create songs quickly – claiming he could write up to nine in a day.
Sheeran then sang the words, “I’m singing out loud”, just enough to be heard, before saying “and then the words fall in”, as he attempted to convince the jury about how he wrote the music.
He added: “I’m not the world’s most talented guitar player.”
That was followed by him knocking the microphone in the witness stand with his hand, before apologising.
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Then he launched into the track itself, which heirs of Ed Townsend, Gaye’s co-writer on Let’s Get It On, say has “striking similarities” and “over common elements” to the famed 1973 song.
“When your legs don’t work like they used to,” he sang, adding a few more bars, after which he returned the guitar to the rack behind him.
The judge then adjourned court until next week.
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Elsewhere in his testimony, Sheeran responded to a video that shows him segueing between Thinking Out Loud and Let’s Get It On on stage, saying it was “quite simple to weave in and out of songs” that are in the same key.
The Suffolk-born global superstar also explained how joining a church choir when he was four years old fuelled his love for music, and that he left school at 17 to perform up to three times a night, playing anywhere that would have him, from bingo halls to restaurants to “anywhere nobody was”.
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Talking about songwriting, he also admitted he “can’t read music – I’m not classically trained in anything”, adding: “When inspiration hits, you get excited, and it just comes out.”
Towards the end of his evidence session, Sheeran was asked by his lawyer why an expert called by the plaintiffs had demonstrated how the chords in Thinking Out Loud are similar to Let’s Get It On.
He replied: “He was saying that because it helps his argument.”
The trial resumes on Monday.