Inspired by the recent deaths of music icons like Prince and David Bowie, Sting premiered a new song from his forthcoming LP during a Friday night Later… with Jools Holland appearance, performing the emotional rock track “50,000” for the first time on the U.K. talk show.
In the song, Sting reflects on the deaths of his colleagues in the music industry in addition to referencing his own career, which has now spanned multiple decades.
“50,000 voices rising every time he sings,” he croons during the song’s chorus. “Rock stars don’t ever die, they only fade away.”
The track is included on Sting’s upcoming 12th studio album, 57th& 9th – his first collection of rock tunes since the release of Sacred Love in 2003.
Speaking to Rolling Stone in July, Sting detailed his creative inspiration for “50,000,” which was written as the singer grappled with minor anxieties concerning his own mortality after several of his peers died earlier this year.
“Mortality does sort of rear its head, particularly at my age – I’m 64,” he said. “It’s really a comment on how shocked we all are when one of our cultural icons dies: Prince, David [Bowie], Glenn Frey, Lemmy. They are our gods, in a way. So when they die, we have to question our own immortality. Even I, as a rock star, have to question my own. And the sort of bittersweet realization that hubris doesn’t mean anything in the end.”
57th & 9th is out on Nov. 11. Watch Sting perform “50,000” in the video above.