Let her go
Where do I begin with this one ….
A game changing moment . A life altering song .
Four minutes of music that shifted my trajectory entirely .
It’s so big that I think of my career in two sections . Before and after let her go .
People often ask me if I knew I’d written a hit straight away after writing it . The honest truth is I didn’t .
I’d written so many songs up until that point that I had been excited by but nothing had ever come of them … So by this stage I had genuinely stopped thinking in those terms .
I had understood that this kind of success was for other people and that I wasn’t making the right kind of music and didn’t know the right people to get the rub of the green at radio and the wider industry .
I had learned that setting high expectations only led to disappointment later on , so when I wrote songs all I cared about was their quality and not what they might go on to achieve .
i think Its a healthy place to create art from .
I vividly remember writing it .
It was early 2011 and I was out on a regional tour of Australia with three of my good mates - Stu Larsen , Jarrad Seng and Tim Hart .
We were playing tiny rooms in some of the smaller towns and cities to a handful of people each night .
It was a brilliant few weeks , but as I have already explained I was definitely feeling frustrated by what was happening or rather not happening with my career ….
As much as I was enjoying playing country towns in Australia - and I really was - there was part of me that couldn’t help but feel like it wasn’t in the right place to be to be making inroads …. How wrong I was … I was exactly where in needed to be .
Sat in a park in Newcastle , New South Wales , waiting to go in to the venue for soundcheck . Tim and I were chatting about the music industry .
Tim , as well as being a fantastic songwriter and solo artist is also the drummer in the brilliant Aussie band “boy and bear”
At the time they were one of the biggest bands in Australia and I was picking his brains about their success and why it might not be working for me .
Tim was incredibly helpful and encouraging and I remember feeling really positive by the end of our chat .
I remember walking in to the venue dressing room , picking up my guitar and playing the opening riff like I’d written it years ago . Like I’d played it before . Like it had always been there but I just hadn’t been looking in the right place for it .
I don’t think I’ve had many other moments like that .
I always say I wrote the song in 45 minutes . I’m not sure if that is true or not but it wouldn’t have been far off . Perhaps it wasn’t completely done and polished in that time but certainly the bones of it were in place and it was just a matter of filling in the gaps .
I remember buzzing from it - which is the best feeling in the world . You know as you’re writing something that you’re on to something really exciting and its just pouring out of your brain and fingers and heart and soul . It’s my flow state . Perhaps even more than playing gigs . Songwriting when its like this is one of my truest pleasures .
But still none of us thought it would be “the hit” when it came to recording .
I remember “wrong direction” had a little more expectation - we spent a lot of money on the video and took it to radio etc . Let her go was honestly something of an afterthought . It sounds mad now ….
2 billion + streams on Spotify , 3 billion+ views on YouTube and a Super Bowl advert later and it all feels a bit ridiculous … but we just didn’t know .
A massive part of the songs success is down to Ed Sheeran .
If he hadn’t have taken me around the world as his opening act in the year leading up to the song blowing up then It simply wouldn’t have happened .
I owe him an awful lot . He has championed me and opened doors that were securely locked .
He’s an incredibly kind and thoughtful person that somehow finds time and energy to lift others up around him even though he carries the world on his shoulders .
He’s a constant inspiration and a fierce friend . I feel so incredibly lucky to call him a mate aside from all of the music stuff .
So when it came to rerecording this song there was only ever going to be one person that I’d want to duet on it .
I’m sure some people will see this collaboration and assume that it’s for commercial opportunity and of course they’re right . It is not a bad thing to have one of the biggest stars in the world sing on one of my songs !!!
But like the other three collaborators , he is on this album due to the genuine and undeniable link that he has had to passenger over the years and this song in particular .
I don’t really care how the song “does” - genuinely . I’m just really proud to have him singing on it . It feels right .
Someone once said that writing a song is like buying a lottery ticket . the more songs you right , the more chance you have of winning it . I feel like after 10 years of buying tickets that my numbers finally came up on that unassuming day all those years ago . And it was a rollover .
I’m grateful beyond words. Not just for its success , but for the opportunity to reach people all over the world , just for four minutes , and make some kind of small difference . What an amazing thing .