Marcus Mumford Sings About Childhood Sexual Abuse, Which He Never Told Anybody About, On ‘Cannibal’

A month ago, Marcus Mumford shared a new solo song called “Cannibal” (the one with the Stephen Spielberg-directed video). While the song’s intense lyrics seemed personal (like the opening line, “I can still taste you, and I hate it / That wasn’t a choice in the mind of a child and you knew it”), it turns out they were more so than we realized: Mumford now says the song is about being sexually abused as a child.

Mumford made the reveal in a new GQ profile, saying of the incident that happened when he was six years old, “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. 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.”

He also spoke about playing the song for his mother, who later came back and asked what the song was about, at which point she learned about the abuse for the first time. Mumford said, “[My mother said,] ‘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*cking hilarious to tell your mom about your abuse in a f*cking song, of all things.”

This news adds another layer to a quote from a newsletter Mumford shared in July: “In January last year I set myself the task of trying to write some songs and just follow where they led. When I showed the first two to the lads in the band, we all agreed it was probably a story I had to tell on my own.”