“Dusty” by Ed Sheeran

If there’s any group of people who can help remind us that life in and of itself is precious, that would be children. 

So the thesis sentiment of “Dusty” in a manner of speaking, i.e. Ed Sheeran being able to celebrate enjoying quality time with his firstborn, Lyra, who as of the release of this track on 5 May 2023 is only two years old. And he is expressing that sentiment against the implied backdrop of being incurably depressed if she were not around.

As has been documented by the press, Sheeran has been going through various personal tribulations, such as the death of a loved one, a cancer diagnosis for another and a lawsuit that could have cost him millions of dollars. It is that first trauma specifically, i.e. the death of Jamal Edwards (1990-2022), that went on to serve as the emotional premise behind this track.

So when Ed puts forth that “yesterday was a long night”, we understand that despite his fame and fortune he still knows how it feels to experience such hardships. But all of that stress and tension is alleviated, even if momentarily, via the “beautiful smile” of his daughter, as they enjoy mornings together. 

That setting includes “frost on the leaves like a lake”, which may be a literal expression since we know Ed sometimes likes to spend time in the freezing cold. But, using our imaginations a bit, perhaps it can also be postulated that he’s referring to Frosted Flakes, i.e. the popular breakfast cereal.

“Drop the needle on Dusty
Frost on the leaves like a lake
The moment came out of nothin’
A beautiful smile on your face
Yesterday was a long night
But I got a feeling that the future is so bright
All of the pressure washed away in the low tide
But we gotta wait till our clothes are bone dry”

Part of the morning routine between he and Lyra also includes listening to music, i.e. of the old variety that would have been on vinyl. And as the title of this track indicates, in this particular case that would be enjoying the tunes of Dusty Springfield (1939-1999), a classic singer from Sheeran’s homeland of England. And in spending such time with his daughter, the vocalist’s lost hope in the future has now been refreshed.

Ed Sheeran and his daughter in the official music video of “Dusty”.

Where does Sheeran actually pay Tribute to Dusty Springfield in “Dusty”?

You can find that from the first line from the chorus. Here, Sheeran sings about dropping “the needle on Dusty“. “Dusty” could be in reference to Springfield’s second album “Dusty”, which came out in 1964 or her fifth studio album, which she released in 1969.

The former album is actually what contributed to Springfield firmly establishing herself as a premier singer in the 1960s music scene. The album contained a number of major songs, including “Once Upon a Time” and “All Cried Out”.

So when Sheeran talks about dropping a needle on “Dusty”, he is basically saying he is playing Springfield’s vinyl record. Everybody who knows how vinyl records work knows that they are played via a turntable record player.

It consists of a flat platter that rotates at a constant speed, a tonearm with a cartridge that holds a stylus or needle, and an amplifier that amplifies the electrical signal generated by the stylus as it tracks the grooves on the record.

The Turntable Record Player

A turntable record player is a device used to play vinyl records. It spins the record at a consistent speed, allowing a stylus to trace grooves on the vinyl. The process of tracing the grooves on the vinyl converts vibrations into the sound you hear. Key components include the following:

  • Platter, where you place the record
  • Motor, which is responsible for rotating the platter
  • Tonearm, a pivoting arm which holds the stylus and cartridge
  • Stylus, a small, pointed component, which is also called the needle, that reads the grooves on a vinyl record
Turntable record player
This is a turntable needle being placed/dropped on a vinyl.

In order to enjoy the songs on Dusty Springfield’s vinyl album, Ed Sheeran would have had to directly drop his turntable’s needle on the record.

Various Facts Surrounding “Dusty”

Sheeran actually revealed that his traditional morning routine with his family (especially his young daughter Lyra) was what inspired “Dusty”. This morning routine included eating breakfast while enjoying music via a record player. And one of the records he and his daughter would often listen to as they ate their breakfast was “Dusty in Memphis”.

As of this writing, Ed Sheeran actually has two daughters with Cherry Seaborn, whom he married in January of 2019.  The first, Lyra, was born in August of 2020. And the second, Jupiter, entered the world during May of 2022.

Ed Sheeran wrote “Dusty” with American musician Aaron Dessner, who also produced the track.

Partner labels Atlantic Records and Asylum Records, whom Sheeran has been signed to since 2011, made this song public on 5 May 2023 as part of the singer’s album, which is titled – (Subtract).

– (Subtract) was formally released on May 5th 2023 as Sheeran’s sixth studio album. Prior to its release, the following songs from the album were released as its official singles:

“Eyes Closed”



Your thoughts on Sheeran’s “Dusty”

We greatly welcome your thoughts and experiences with Ed Sheeran’s “Dusty” in the comment section. Thanks for sharing your stories with us.

The Value of Spending Time with my 3-year-old

“As a parent with a busy schedule, it can be very easy for you to overlook the significance of spending quality time with your children. However, listening to ‘Dusty’ has opened my eyes to the value of spending those little moments with not just my 3-year old son but with all my loved ones. It is clear that by taking just a few minutes each day to read a book, play a game, or simply chat and laugh together, I can create memories that will be cherished for years to come.”

– Miss Moon

“Dusty” made our lives more Beautiful (:

“I’m a young mother who has been struggling to get my husband to understand the importance of spending time with our little girl. Lucky for me, things took a different turn since we listened to ‘Dusty’ together. It’s been only a few days but he has started making efforts to come home before her bedtime and he even takes her to the park himself.

I’m grateful that he has recognized how important this is to us, and is making efforts to be more present in our daughter’s life. As parents, we have a crucial role to play in our children’s lives, and it all starts with prioritizing those little moments with them.”

– Krystal Boateng

Reminds of my Beautiful Childhood

“I can totally relate to this song and the music video thanks to my dad who blessed me with an absolutely amazing childhood. And for that I will forever love and respect him. Whenever I watch the video, I am transported to my beautiful childhood years.

After a long hectic week at work, my father would always look forward to the weekend – not to catch up on sleep or hang out with his friends at the local bar, but to spend quality time with me.

Saturday mornings were especially our special time. My Dad would wake up early and prepare my favorite pancakes, decorated with a smiley face made of syrup.

I remember my little heart always being filled with immense joy as I rush down to breakfast, my eyes lighting up at the sight of the pancake surprise.

After breakfast, we would head to the park, armed with a picnic basket. The park was our playground where we would race, play catch, and even lie on the grass, spotting shapes in the clouds.

This shared playtimes with my Dad were priceless moments in my life. Lunch was always a picnic under my favorite tree in the park. Now when I look back at those moments, I feel like I was the luckiest child on earth.  

Evening would find us back at home, where we cook dinner together. The day then ends with our bedtime routine. After tucking me into bed, my Dad would read me a story before kissing me goodnight.

Quality time isn’t about grand gestures or expensive outings. It is about the simple things in life. And I believe Sheeran captured that perfectly in ‘Dusty’”.

– Gary Hayes

2 Responses

  1. Marthese says:

    I know some fathers who claim they do not know their children from their first marriage as they put career before kids. My heart bleeds for these children! Then they try to make things up with being there for the kids they beget with the second, much younger wife. I put my kids first and all the rest was built around them and my kids know me well and claim I am a mum in a class of my own, with their dad of course, who did the exact dame thing.

    • SMF says:

      Hi Marthese, thanks for sharing your story with us. Hopefully it encourages certain parents to remember to make their kids a priority in their lives. Thanks again.

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