Lewis Capaldi wrote this piano ballad on October 7, 2016, the day of his 20th birthday. He had just broken up with his girlfriend after going out with her for year and a half. He told Genius
that it was "an amicable split" as he was working hard on his music and she was busy doing her own thing as well.
The song is not sung from the perspective of heartbreak; instead Capaldi is singing of how he can't stop holding onto the memories of their relationship, no matter how much its hurting him.
I've been told, I've been told to get you off my mind
But I hope I never lose the bruises that you left behind
Oh my lord, oh my lord, I need you by my side
Capaldi explained: "At times your memory of an old relationship will be clouded and you'll only seem to remember the best parts of being with someone. Completely ignoring the reasons why things came to an end makes the idea of holding on to it or wanting to go back to it seem more enticing than it actually is."
Capaldi sings about "bruises" rather than "scars" as he doesn't harbor any bad feelings about the relationship. "Bruises," he explained, "seems like an altogether more repairable thing" than scars.
Capaldi wrote "Bruises" with producer James Earp in London. Earp's other credits include Diana Vickers' "My Wicked Heart
" and Nina Nesbitt's "Selfies
Capaldi had never met Earp prior to the day of writing the song, but the pair penned the tune and cut the demo within the space of four hours. They rushed it, as Capaldi had to catch a flight back home to Scotland for his birthday. Capaldi said: "Initially we had planned on adding more stuff to it in terms of instrumentation and production and things. That's why the song is so bare and so lacking in terms of production and stuff, because we just didn't have time to add stuff."
The song was initially self-released independently on March 31, 2017. It landed atop Spotify's New Music Friday playlist, earning Capaldi a deal with Universal Music Group.
"Bruises" was re-released as a digital download as the lead single from Capaldi's debut EP Bloom after he signed with UMG, and later included as part of his inaugural album, Divinely Uninspired to a Hellish Extent. (His music comes out on Virgin in the United Kingdom and Capitol in the United States.)
The first song Capaldi ever wrote on a piano, the tune totally changed the direction of Divinely Uninspired
. "The album I was making was going in one direction, and then I wrote 'Bruises' and things just tilted slightly," he told MTV News
The ex that Capaldi is singing about is Paige Turley. Capaldi and Turley began dating when the singer was 18, then split around two years later. The West Lothian citizen achieved her own notoriety when she won the sixth series of the British dating reality show Love Island in February 2020 with her partner, Finn Tapp.
Capaldi confirmed to The Independent
that "Bruises" and "a bunch of other songs" on Divinely Uninspired to a Hellish Extent
are about Paige Turley. "But," he added, his best known song on the album, "Someone You Loved
," is about my grandma."
The song plays during the climax of the 2021 "Killer On The Midnight Watch" episode of Magnum P.I.