Visiting Hours

Album: = (2021)
Charted: 5 75
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Songfacts®:

  • Ed Sheeran was devastated when his mentor and friend, the Australian music impresario Michael Gudinski, died on March 2, 2021. During this heartfelt tribute to his late father figure, the English singer wishes there were visiting hours in heaven. Then he could update him on the progress of his daughter, Lara, and get his advice on being a dad.
  • Sheeran jetted to Australia so he could perform at Gudinski's state memorial concert on March 24, 2021. The singer was forced to quarantine for two weeks in order to attend the funeral, and in that time he finished the moving song near the Hawkesbury River, which flows northwest of Sydney. He sang this song at the service, introducing it by saying: "In lockdown, I was able to have a guitar for quarantine. I always find the best way to process stuff is to write songs - be it good news, bad news, or whatever, and, yeah – here's a song I finished last week."
  • During the memorial service, Ed Sheeran sang another a couple of songs with one of Michael's close friends, Kylie Minogue. After hanging out with another of the late impresario's buddies, Australian singer-songwriter Jimmy Barnes, Sheeran recruited Minogue and Barnes to provide backing vocals for the studio recording of "Visiting Hours." He explained on the Australian radio show Ash London LIVE that he asked the pair knowing they were the most important people in Gudinski's life musically. "I got back to England, I recorded it and sent it off to them and they're on it," he said.

    Sheeran added that Michael Gudinski used to ask him to send him songs for Jimmy Barnes. "I used to send him loads," he said. "He always wanted me to sing with Kylie and I ended up getting to sing with her."
  • Best known as the founder of Mushroom Records, Michael Gudinski was often called the "father of the Australian music industry." Among the artists that released music on the Mushroom label were Split Enz, The Saints, Dannii Minogue, Kylie Minogue, Jason Donovan and Jimmy Barnes. He was so prominent in the music industry Down Under, the Victorian government officially granted Gudinski a State Memorial.
  • Sheeran wrote "Visiting Hours" with some of his regular collaborators: Snow Patrol's Johnny McDaid, singer-songwriter Amy Wadge, New York songwriter Michael Pollack (Zara Larsson's "Ruin My Life," Maroon 5's "Memories"), and Ant Clemons, who is a member of Kanye West's Sunday Service gospel-rap group. ROBOTSCOTT and Kim Lang Smith also received writing credits.
  • Sheeran co-produced the song with Johnny McDaid. The Snow Patrol musician, some of his siblings, and his mother joined Kylie Minogue and Jimmy Barnes as backing vocalists.
  • Despite the song's sad background, Sheeran no longer feels the same emotional attachment to the track as when he recorded it. He told Apple Music: "When I write the songs they're very personal to me, but then when I release them, they belong to everyone and therefore they're not mine any more.

    I got asked if I get emotional playing 'Visiting Hours' at shows now, and I don't. I honestly don't, because that song is so important to so many other people now, so I don't feel like that song is mine to hold."
  • This originated when Ant Clemons sent Sheeran an entirely different tune, also called "Visiting Hours." When he listened to the track, one line - "I wish heaven had visiting hours" – caught his attention. Sheeran thought it was a clever lyric and asked Clemons if he could take that line and create a song from it.

    Clemons agreed, and when Michael Gudinski 's son informed Sheeran his father had passed away, it provided the opportunity. The English star lamented how he would never get to speak to his friend and mentor again, so he went back to Clemons' line. He recalled to Apple Music thinking if he could just have five minutes visiting him in heaven and tell him, "Hey, man I know I'm not going to see you for a very, very long time but this, this, this, this, and I love you, I'll see you when I'll see you," not only would it be a way of writing a song about acceptance in grief, "but also just having the door a tiny bit ajar so you can wave goodbye."

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