Ed Sheeran Reflects on His Grief Journey in Moving New Song "Eyes Closed"

A little more than a year after Ed Sheeran lost his best friend, music entrepreneur Jamal Edwards, the "Thinking Out Loud" artist has released a song about navigating grief. Listen to "Eyes Closed."

By Elyse Dupre Mar 24, 2023 3:00 PMTags
Watch: Ed Sheeran Gets EMOTIONAL in New Docuseries Trailer

Ed Sheeran is expressing his grief through song. 

A little more than a year after his best friend Jamal Edwards' sudden death, the "Perfect" singer has released a song about navigating loss called "Eyes Closed."

According to a press release, the single, which dropped March 24, started out as a breakup song when it was first written a few years ago. But after Jamal's unexpected death at age 31 in February 2022, Ed revisited the song for his upcoming album (Subtract).

"This song is about losing someone, feeling like every time you go out and you expect to just bump into them, and everything just reminds you of them and the things you did together," the Grammy winner said in the release. "You sorta have to take yourself out of reality sometimes to numb the pain of loss, but certain things just bring you right back into it." 

And Ed wears his heart on his sleeve in the lyrics.

"I pictured this year a little bit different when it hit February," he sings. "I step in the bar, it hit me so hard / Oh how can it be this heavy? / Every song reminds me you're gone / And I feel the lump form in my throat / ‘Coz I'm here alone."

Celebrity Deaths: 2023's Fallen Stars

In the chorus, the 32-year-old conveys how his memories of Jamal often come flooding back.

"Just dancing with my eyes closed," he continues. "'Coz everywhere I look I still see you / Time is moving so slow / And I don't know what else that I can do / So I'll keep dancing with my eyes closed."

And while Ed misses the late music entrepreneur, he's learning how to live in this new reality.

"Everything changes, nothing's the same / Except the truth is now you're gone," he later sings. "And life just goes on."

Along with the track, Ed released a corresponding music video, which features a blue creature following him like grief. In the release, he shared his inspiration for the clip.

"When I was thinking of concepts for the 'Eyes Closed' music video, I wanted to make a video inspired by movies like Harvey, where the main character has an imaginary friend who's a giant rabbit that no one can see," the musician—who shares daughters Lyra, 2, and Jupiter, 10 months, with wife Cherry Seaborn—explained. "There's also a book I read my daughters where sadness is encapsulated by an imaginary creature."

Ed wanted to convey these ideas and feelings through the visuals.

"Often sadness is something that follows you around, engulfing the rooms you're in, and you can feel and see it, but no one else around you can," he continued. "So I decided to create my own big blue monster for the video. He gets bigger and bigger as the video goes on, til he takes up whole rooms, and is all I can see, just like sadness."

Ed further reflects on the death of Jamal—whom he credits with helping launch his career—in his upcoming Disney+ docuseries Ed Sheeran: The Sum Of It All (The four-part series premieres May 3).

"The loss," he said in a recently released trailer, "it just took over my life." 

Atlantic Records

Ed recently got candid about his difficult 2022—revealing that in addition to grieving Jamal, he experienced Cherry battling a tumor while she was pregnant with the couple's second child. She was unable to treat the tumor until after Jupiter's birth, and according to Ed's recent Rolling Stone cover story, she underwent a successful surgery in June.

"Life is unpredictable," he said in the series sneak peek. "Plans can change really quickly."

, featuring "Eyes Closed," drops May 5.

For the latest breaking news updates, click here to download the E! News App