As both a longtime Ed fan and a big book collector and reader, when I caught word of Ed Sheeran releasing an autobiography I let out a little squeal of excitement and put it straight onto my never-ending book wishlist. When I finally got the beautiful luminous green book in my hands I could have cried tears of joy – upon first impressions it was everything I could ask for, and more.
A Visual Journey is exactly that. Part autobiographical memoir, part art book, part coffee table tome, reading this book is truly like going on Sheeran’s journey with him – from dorky bespectacled tween with his first guitar, to international musical fame. Though this is an autobiography Sheeran has remained mostly private about his personal life. The focus of A Visual Journey is on the music industry and his experiences in the scene. We do get a peek into his childhood and family life, but Sheeran stays true to himself in not revealing too much. This book can be read in multiple ways, but I do suggest reading it cover to cover for the best experience.
This book is a collaborative project, written by Sheeran and his childhood friend and artist Phillip Butah. The pages are broken up with stunning artwork from Butah throughout, as well as some photographs of Ed. One of my personal favourite photographs comes in the form of a shot of his childhood room, a wall covered in gig tickets. In the chapter ‘Nurturing the Spark’ we learn that Sheeran’s dad started taking him to shows at a young age, which he says is a huge part of what inspired him to become a musician.
At the very beginning of the book Sheeran makes it very clear that he feels too young to be writing an autobiography, and that this is instead an illustrated book bringing together the stories behind his music with Butah’s artwork. Though he says this, I feel the book is something much more. A Visual Journey is a supremely inspirational work, filled with words of wisdom far beyond Sheeran’s years, which will act to motivate and inspire anyone and everyone. Though a struggling musician may get the most out of this book, being able to relate to the accounts of dealing with poverty, failure, rejection, and frustration on a deeper level. Definitely required reading for any budding young muso.
An interesting thing to note about the book is that all swearing is censored with asterisks. Upon first glance this may seem somewhat annoying or even demeaning to the reader. However, the story behind Sheeran’s choice to make his most recent album ‘X’ and also this book “clean” is a good one. Ed was asked by a taxi driver to make his album clean for the driver’s young daughter, who loves his music. Ed promised he would and has stuck to that promise, even with this book. I respect his choice to do this, even though it can be disconcerting as an older reader. This little story is just one of the many reasons why Ed Sheeran is a role model and an inspiration, and why you should read his book to learn more about this amazing guy.
From opening to closing this book you’ll follow Sheeran on his journey from his childhood and The Orange Room EP, through his years struggling to be heard by the record labels and sofa-surfing in London, to succeeding in the iTunes charts on his own as an independent artist, to finally having the labels that once brushed him off come running back with offers of blank cheques. Finally you hear about where he’s at now, with the recent release of ‘X’, arena tours under his belt, stadium tours in front of him, and a future as bright as the neon cover of this book.
A Visual Journey is a book for anyone and everyone.
5 out of 5 Stars
Ed Sheeran: A Visual Journey by Ed Sheeran and Phillip Butah, published by Octopus Publishing Group Ltd. is available now for £18.99 online and in all good bookstores.