Mumford & Sons member Marcus Mumford recently revealed that he was the victim of sexual abuse when he was just six years old — and that his mother only learned of the abuse years later after listening to the lyrics of one of his songs.
The song in question, titled “Cannibal,” is the first single from Mumford’s first solo album — and he explained in a GQ interview published on Wednesday that he didn’t realize he hadn’t told his mother about the abuse until she came to him with questions about the song.
According to the interview, Mumford’s parents had moved in with him and his wife — actress Carey Mulligan — at the beginning of the pandemic in 2020. His mother heard him playing a new song and said that it sounded nice and she’d like to hear the whole thing — at which point Mumford obliged.
“I know the chords she likes,” he explained. “So she hears it through the walls, like, ‘That sounds nice. Can I come hear it?'”
And then he sang her the lyrics that painted a pretty clear picture of what he says he experienced as a young boy: “I can still taste you and I hate it / That wasn’t a choice in the mind of a child and you knew it.”
“The power of the mind, man,” Mumford added, saying that he had somehow forgotten that he had never told his mother about the abuse.
After a few days, he said, she came back to him with pointed questions. “‘Can I ask what that song’s about?’ I was like, ‘Yeah, it’s about the abuse thing.’ She was like, ‘What are you talking about?’ So once we get through the trauma of that moment for her, as a mother, hearing that and her wanting to protect and help and all that stuff, it’s objectively f***ing hilarious to tell your mom about your abuse in a f***ing song, of all things.”
“Like lots of people—and I’m learning more and more about this as we go and as I play it to people—I was sexually abused as a child,” Mumford told GQ, explaining that he had been just six years old at the time. “Not by family and not in the church, which might be some people’s assumption. But I hadn’t told anyone about it for 30 years.”
“Cannibal” leads off Mumford’s solo album — followed, fittingly, by a track titled “Grace” that was written about the conversation he had with his mother about the abuse all those years later.