Ed Sheeran Dedicates His New “Visiting Hours” Song To His Friend Who Died

He wrote the acoustic ballad while quarantining in Australia to attend a memorial service.

MILAN, ITALY - NOVEMBER 20: Ed Sheeran performs at Alcatraz on November 20, 2014 in Milan, Italy. (P...
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Fresh off his glamorous, glitter-filled vampire crusade for his single “Bad Habits,” Ed Sheeran returned to his acoustic roots by releasing a song that holds a very special place in his heart. The 30-year-old Grammy winner has just dedicated his new song “Visiting Hours” to his friend Michael who passed away in 2021. The singer finished the song while quarantining in Australia in order to attend his friend’s memorial, and he described the entire experience as the first time he’s ever felt “proper grief” in his life. “This is a song that is really, really dear to my heart, and it’s one of my favorite songs on the album,” he said on Instagram Live.

Sheeran released the heartfelt acoustic ballad and its poignant performance video on Aug. 19 as part of announcing his fourth album titled = (Equals), which will be released on Oct. 29. Set in St. Stephen’s Church in London, the video sees Sheeran backed by a choir as he sings along to the track’s poignant lyrics: “I wish that heaven had visiting hours so I could just show up and bring the news.” As the song digs deeper into Sheeran’s personal life and innermost worries, he calls out for guidance from his friend who died before it all culminates in a powerful, painfully relatable statement: “So much has changed since you been away.”

“Visiting Hours” is one of 14 songs that will be on Sheeran’s upcoming album. While on Instagram Live, Sheeran revealed that the song isn’t the only new material fans will get to hear before the album is officially released in two months. “[Visiting Hours] is not the next single,” he teased. “The next single comes out on Sept. 10.”

The musician describes making the new album as “a long process” that began only four months after the release of his 2017 album ÷ (Divide). The result, however, is one that Sheeran believes is well worth the wait. “I’ve never been more proud of a body of work, or more excited/nervous for you all to hear it,” he wrote on Instagram. “I’ve been through love, loss, new life, grief and everything in between during the whole period of writing it, and I feel like it’s really a coming-of-age record.”

The album’s cover features Sheeran’s oft-used mathematical sign, but it is surrounded by butterflies. According to the singer, it’s a reoccurring symbol that can be both seen and heard throughout the album. A day before it was announced, Sheeran posted an image of a chrysalis on Instagram; now, he’s ready to spread his wings and fly. “Basically, the symbolism behind the album is new life,” he said on Instagram Live. “Over the last sort of four years, there’s different experiences in life including getting married, having a kid, losing a friend, and I just felt like the butterfly symbolism fit in with that.”