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‘The night Ed Sheeran slept on my couch’

Julian Velard

What happens when a guy who once crashed at your place becomes one of the biggest pop stars in the world? That’s the premise of a new song by New York-based singer-songwriter Julian Velard, who used his personal experience in his “The Night Ed Sheeran Slept on My Couch.”

Popcrush spoke with Velard, who said that it happened some time in the summer of 2009 when he was living in London and had just been dropped by EMI. He had already met Sheeran at a pub gig a few months before, and was playing a street piano near Liverpool Street Station when the future star walked by carrying his guitar.

“We jammed a little on the piano that was there,” he tells us, “then he followed me and my roommate home. He was kind of a lost puppy, 18, 19 years old at most, and very sweet. I was struck by how driven he was. All he wanted to do was talk about what it was like being signed to a major label. The night wore on and he just stuck around the house. It was a bit awkward for a minute, but in the end my roommate and I let him crash out on the couch. He went to breakfast with us and that was it.”

Velard thought nothing of it he returned to London at a time when “The A Team” was all over the radio. “I thought, ‘Hey that’s the kid from my couch!’ I never in a million years would have thought that guy was gonna become as big as he is.”

After dining out on the story for a few years, Velard’s friend, Alex Dezen of the Damnwells, convinced him to turn it into a song, which he did with his longtime collaborator, Grant Black. The lyrics are told from the autobiographical point of view of a musician whose career has stalled while Sheeran’s has risen. “He plays in Paris / And wakes up in Rome / Private planes to L.A. / But it wasn’t that way / The night Ed Sheeran slept on my couch.“

Velard isn’t jealous of Sheeran’s fame, which he tells us is “awesome” and “truly legit” because “he 100 percent hustled his way to where he is.” But writing the last verse, which turns the track into a commentary on “the randomness of stardom and success,” nonetheless proved difficult to not make it sound as if he was bitter.

“I felt that even the slightest change in a preposition could result in the listener’s loss of sympathy,” he continued. “There are at least seven versions of that last verse. The one Grant and I settled on felt like the most even-keeled, the one with the least of my ego involved. I knew there was real wisdom in the story, so I was determined to get it right.”

The video, directed by Jim Glaub, recreates the scene, albeit in Velard’s Brooklyn apartment. Velard plays an electric piano in the foreground while a red-headed stranger is behind him, fast asleep while not even the vacuum or his cat, Milo, can wake him up.

Right now, “The Night Ed Sheeran Slept on My Couch” is downloadable for those who subscribe to Velard’s Bandcamp page.

Since 2003, Julian Velard has put out four albums of tuneful, late-’70s inspired piano pop with the most recent being 2014’s love letter to New York City, If You Don’t Like It, You Can Leave. He had a viral video hit in 2012 with “The Mighty Lin,” an ode to basketball star Jeremy Lin and is a frequent musical guest on NPR’s trivia show Ask Me Another. You can learn more about him at his website.

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