Ed Sheeran provided another preview of his upcoming Autumn Variations album on Thursday morning (Sept. 21), posting a video on his socials in which he gives a command performance of the track to one of its A-list Hollywood subjects.
“Courtney, Courtney, Courtney. I wrote this song inspired by Friends, the show that you were on,” Sheeran explained in a shaky hand-held video to his longtime pal and former Friends star Courtney Cox. Hanging with Monica Geller in a kitchen, Sheeran then proceeded to play a bit of the track, “American Town,” on his acoustic guitar.
“We’re a long way from home/ Haven’t seen you in so long/ But it all came back in one moment/ And the year started cold/ But I didn’t notice at all/ When we found there’s a room we’re both in,” he crooned as Cox smiled along to the lyrics from the song that will appear on the Aaron Dessner-produced album due out on Sept. 29.
The lyrics in the pre-chorus really hinted at the ties to the beloved NBC sitcom that was a launched in 1994 and became a ratings juggernaut in the years before its final episode aired in May 2004. “We ate Chinese food in small white boxes/ Live the life we saw in Friends/ Your room it barely fits the mattress/ Wake up, leave for work again/ The wind it seems to blow right through us / Down jackets are the trend,” Sheeran sang before diving into the chorus about an “English girl in an American town,” an elevator that doesn’t go to the fifth floor, ringing the buzzer to let someone in and “dungarees over the hoodie.”
“Wait, that was really about the show Friends?,” Cox asked after the performance. Well, inspired by it, Sheeran clarified. “Cuz you eat Chinese food in small white boxes.” Cox said she loved it, but also, she wondered, “do I get paid?”
The “American Town” preview came just days after Sheeran revealed that he will also release a surprise secret live version of Variations that he recorded in fans’ living rooms across the country; no release date has been announced for what will be Sheeran’s third new album of 2023. Sheeran will perform Variations in full during two shows at London’s Royal Albert Hall on Nov. 18-19; the North American leg of his Mathematics tour will wrap on Saturday (Sept. 23) at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, Calif.