Written and produced by Ed Sheeran himself, the singer released this orchestrated love ballad at midnight on February 17, 2017 to celebrate his 26th birthday. He told Ryan Seacrest:
"'How Would You Feel' is about five-minutes-twenty, and I was like 'This is the one time I can release a song and it could be played on radio when it's five-minutes—'cause I think once the album's out people will just go for the singles. This song isn't a single, but I want to put it out because I want loads of people to hear it."
This represented the first time that Sheeran has produced a song on one of his records. The only previous time that he'd manned the production desk was for "I See Fire
," the tune that he penned for the end credits of the Hobbit movie The Desolation of Smaug
The song is an ode to Ed Sheeran's girlfriend, Cherry Seaborn.
How would you feel
If I told you I loved you
It's just something that I want to do
I'll be taking my time
Spending my life
Falling deeper in love with you
So tell me that you love me too
Ed Sheeran has known hockey player Cherry Seaborn since they both attended Thomas Mills High School in Framlington, Suffolk. They began dating in 2015 and their relationship blossomed after the crooner took time out after spending years on the road.
Sheeran admitted to Ryan Seacrest that the tune had slipped his mind and almost didn't make it onto his ÷ record. "I actually forgot the song existed," he said. "I finished the album and I was going through notes and I said to my girlfriend, 'What's your favorite song on the album?' She said, 'You've forgotten it existed and I have it in my e-mail because I'm the only one you sent it to.' So she picked it out from like, a year-and-a-half ago and I ended up recording it."
That's John Mayer on the guitar breakdown. Speaking to Zach Sang and The Gang, Sheeran said "I got John Mayer on a guitar solo that's uncredited that's quite cool. I did a really terrible guitar solo on a song and I was like, 'I bet John Mayer could do this better.' So I emailed him and he did it a lot better."
Speaking on The Capital Evening Show with Roman Kemp, Sheeran recalled how he wrote this song in under 15 minutes for his girlfriend's taxi journey to the airport.
"My girlfriend's from my home town and she was working in New York for like three years and she'd flown back for a festival in our home town and that's when we kind of like rekindled, I guess," he said. "And when she was taking a cab back to the airport, she got in a cab it was like a three-hour drive, and then I was sat at home on my own and I was like 'oh I'll write a song really quickly and send it to her so that she's got something to listen to on the drive.'
"Then I forgot about it," Sheeran continued, "and then when the album was finished I asked her 'what's your favourite song?' and she said 'you've forgotten it exists' and then sent it to me and then I quickly recorded it and put it on [the album]."