Ed Sheeran’s “Eyes Closed” Lyrics Meaning

The lyrics of “Eyes Closed” center on the most challenging moments of Ed Sheeran’s life. According to Sheeran, the lyrics explore the sad experience of losing someone and the lingering expectation of unexpectedly encountering them whenever you’re out. He added that the song captures how everything around you evokes memories of that person and the moments you shared together.

According to him, in such situations, the only way to numb this pain is by taking “yourself out of reality”. However, as hard as you try to escape from reality, you end up encountering certain things that instantaneously drag you back into reality.

But who did Ed Sheeran actually lose?

In early 2022, Sheeran lost his close friend, Jamal Edwards. Jamal was an English DJ and music entrepreneur who died tragically at the age of 31. His official cause of death was “cardiac arrhythmia” as a result of the use of the dangerous drug coca-ne.

Sheeran had earlier paid tribute to Jamal via a song he released in January of 2023 titled “F64”. In an interview with Rolling Stone, the singer revealed that Jamal’s sudden death caused him immense grief and that this grief partly inspired his fifth studio album, which goes by the title – (“Subtract”).

“Eyes Closed” was released as this album’s lead single on the 24th of March, 2023.

The Lyrics of “Eyes Closed”

Ed Sheeran starts the song’s first verse by talking about how he spend most of the year indoors and consuming alcohol. He admits that such a behavior isn’t the best.

It is possible that Ed might be referring to how the COVID pandemic forced people to remain indoors thanks to the lockdowns.

In addition to the aforementioned depressive chapter, Ed revealed that in 2021, during his wife, Cherry Seaborn’s pregnancy with their second child, she was diagnosed with a severe tumor. According to him, this caused him so much “fear, depression and anxiety”.

As if all that wasn’t enough, in 2022, he was ordered to face a copyright trial in the United States over allegations that he copied parts of Marvin Gaye’s iconic song “Let’s Get It On” into his own hit song “Shape of You“.

All these challenges could be what the singer is referring to when he talks about “holdin’ back these tears” as he deals “with the cards life dealt” him.

The month of February

In the pre-chorus, he talks about picturing a particular year to be slightly better but suddenly “February” comes and life even gets tougher. It should be stated that February was the month that his friend Jamal prematurely died.

“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”

As Ed enters the bar, the impact of the demise of his deceased friend overwhelms him greatly. Each song that is played in the bar reminds him of the absence of his beloved friend.

I have to dance with my “eyes closed”

The pain of being in the bar and being reminded of the fact that his friend is no more hurts him so much that the only way he can escape from this sad reality is by dancing with his eyes closed. He is forced to do this because everywhere he looks, he still sees his lost friend. But life must go on. He has to pull through this nightmare. So what does he do? He has only one option – which is to “keep dancin’ with” his “eyes closed”.

This bloody delusion

In the second verse, Ed stresses more on the delusions he has to constantly deal with in the aftermath of the death of his friend. He finds himself often battling with false beliefs that his friend will come back home soon. But then he is slammed back into reality and his heart breaks even more.

He concludes the verse by stating how his deceased friend was more than a friend to him and how he cannot help but miss him dearly.

Life goes on

As the song nears its conclusion, Ed apparently is forced to accept the truth that his friend is really gone and that “life just goes on”. He would therefore continue dancing through life with his eyes closed. This is the only thing he can currently do in order not to see things that remind him of his late friend.

Dancing with eyes closed

It should be noted that when Sheeran talks about dancing with his eyes closed, the phrase might not literally be talking about dancing with his eyes closed.

It might be an idiomatic expression in which the singer is trying to remind himself that despite this current chapter of his life being very dark, things will eventually improve. He therefore has to keep on dancing (living life to the fullest) instead of dwelling on the dark events of the past. He should focus on the present as well as the future and carry on living.

“Dancin’ with my eyes closed
‘Cause everywhere I look, I still see you
Time is movin’ so slow
And I don’t know what else that I can do
So I’ll keep dancin’ with my”

Music Video

Speaking to Rolling Stone, Sheeran said that the music video to “Eyes Closed” was inspired by a book he read to his daughters based on a character called “Harvey”. In this book, sadness is represented by “an imaginary character”.

This sadness will follow you everywhere you go. It will occupy every room you enter. And the sad part is that only you can see and feel it.

This story inspired him to created his “own big blue monster” in the video. In the clip, we can see that the blue monster follows Sheeran wherever he goes, getting bigger with every step it takes. It is actually all Sheeran can see throughout the video. Simply put, he sees sadness everywhere he goes. This is why it becomes imperative for him to dance with closed eyes.

The video was directed by Mia Barnes. On her Instagram account, Mia referred to the story of the video as one that deals with a “lingering presence of loss, that only you can see”.

Writing and Production Credits

Ed Sheeran wrote “Eyes Closed”. However, he isn’t the song’s only writer. He worked with three other prolific songwriters in the persons of:

  • Max Martin
  • Fred Again…
  • Shellback

Max, Martin and Shellback also worked on the song’s production along with Aaron Dessner.

Release Date

On March 24th, 2023, “Eyes Closed” became the first single Ed released from his fifth studio album titled – (“Subtract”). The album’s second single “Boat” was released a month later in April.

Eyes Closed

A Song that brings me to tears

“It has been a couple of years since my mother departed. Sheeran’s songs, from “Visiting Hours” to “Photograph” and now “Eyes Closed,” have had a profound impact on me. His lyrics express the thoughts and emotions that I struggle to articulate, and they have the ability to touch my heart and bring me to tears. Ed’s consistency is truly remarkable.

His voice has a timeless quality that never fails to impress me. I’m sending prayers to him and all his loved ones during this difficult time. Despite everything he is going through, he has continued to create music that inspires and uplifts us all.” Mark

“I actually watched the “Eyes Closed” video a few hours ago and it’s quite touching. The scenes in which we witness others, especially our loved ones being haunted by grief is deeply moving. It serves as a poignant reminder that we will all face loss at some point in our lives, but it also reassures us that we are never alone in our suffering.” Simon

A song that inspires

“Once again, Ed Sheeran has outdone himself! ‘Eyes Closed’ is a mesmerizing and inspirational song that has left me speechless. The lyrics are deeply touching, and the melody is absolutely gorgeous. I allow myself to be carried away on a journey through his soulful music by simply closing my eyes. Ed will forever remain one of the most gifted songwriters I can think of.” – Margaret

A song that reminds me of a painful event ):

I adore this song to the core! I lost my beloved husband back in May of 2021, and our daughter was left without a father. Anytime I look at her, I am reminded that her father is no longer with us, and it feels like my heart is being torn into pieces.

Sometimes, I find myself sitting alone at a bar, waiting for him to show up. As I look around and see couples all around me, my heart aches even more. But whenever I close my eyes and dance to “Eyes Closed,” it’s like my Dany is right there with me, and I can relive all the beautiful memories we shared.”


Share your thoughts and stories with us

Do you have any thoughts or experiences related to Ed’s “Closed Eyes”? Feel free to share them with us.

1 Response

  1. Anonymous says:

    This song reminds me of my brother who died 11 days after I was born it was due to a brain bleed because we were born four months premature. I was super lucky that I am alive today.

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