Mumford & Sons are a London based folk quartet who formed in 2007. They comprise Marcus Mumford (vocals, guitar, bass drum, and tambourine), Ben Lovett (keyboards), Country Winston (banjo, dobro, electric guitar) and Ted Dwane (vocals, double bass). Mumford is also the drummer in Laura Marling's band. This anthemic number was the lead single from their debut album Sigh No More. However the song's expletive-driven chorus was censored for the radio.
Marcus Mumford explained this track in a January 2010 interview: "It's a very personal story, so I won't elaborate upon too much. Suffice to say, it was a situation in my life I wasn't very happy with or proud of… and sometimes when you can't describe a feeling with your own words, it's almost easier to express in a song. And then, when you get asked about the songs, it's quite difficult to explain. It's a conundrum - you don't want to seem self-indulgent explaining yourself; it's always awkward. Which is weird again, because it's never awkward actually singing them. I suppose the song should stand on its own and people draw their own interpretation from the words. But for me, personally, it's the lyrics that I listen to again and again in a song. I place specific importance on them. I can't write lyrics unless I really feel them and mean them, which can sometimes be quite frustrating - because if you're not feeling much at the time, you're stuck.
I guess the sound of it grabs you a little bit by the balls - it's quite an aggressive song, a bit more of a punch in the face. Or at least, for our stuff, anyway - a lot of our stuff isn't quite as hard-hitting as that. It felt like the right song to be the single because it represented the harder, darker side of what we do, and at the same time, the more folksy and punchy side."
Australia's Triple J Hot 100 - the largest music poll in the world, with over 800,000 votes cast - declared this the song of 2010 by an unprecedented margin.
Regarding the surprising F-bomb in the chorus ("I really f--ked it up this time"), Marcus Mumford said: "We weren't even going to put the song on the album. There were industry people asking, 'Is there any way you can write a different word? We'll do anything.' We tried it and it was just horrible, it didn't work at all. But I now have my parents agreeing with me as well. My mum's justifying it to people: 'There's no other word that fits, it has to be that one!"