Ed Sheeran is celebrating his new single with a special performance. On Monday, Sheeran released a piano and strings version of his new single, “Eyes Closed,” accompanied by a string ensemble and his producer Aaron Dessnor on piano.
The video sees Sheeran, backed by the other musicians, performing the slow song from inside the Historic Dockyard with his eyes closed. “Every song reminds me you’re gonе and I feel the lump form in my throat/’Cause I’m herе alone,” he sings. “Just dancin’ with my eyes closed/’Cause everywhere I look, I still see you.”
The new performance celebrates Sheeran’s first single off of Subtract, his album out early next month. “I know how you guys always love when I put out a stripped-down version of my singles, so this one is for you,” Sheeran wrote on Instagram. “Enjoy!”
The new rendition arrives several days after he released the emotional pop song — and its poignant music video — last Friday. The video follows Sheeran as he wanders from bar to diner, accompanied by a big, blue monster symbolizing his grief.
“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,” Sheeran said of the song in a statement. “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.”
The track’s original version builds around a pinging pizzicato riff that builds into an octave-jumping chorus. Sheeran told Rolling Stone in a cover story interview that the song had been rewritten from a more straightforward pop song about a breakup to address his personal trauma directly. Sheeran also spoke about the grief he’s faced after the death of his close friend, Jamal Edwards, and how his death partially inspired the album. It’s also helped him process the loss.
“No one really talks about their feelings where I come from,” he said. “People think it’s weird getting a therapist in England… I think it’s very helpful to be able to speak with someone and just vent and not feel guilty about venting. Obviously, like, I’ve lived a very privileged life. So my friends would always look at me like, ‘Oh, it’s not that bad.’ ”
The album, out in early May, is his final LP of a set of records named after mathematical symbols. “Eyes Closed” was co-written with Max Martin, Fred Again, and Shellback, while Dessner joined them to co-produce it.