Nightline Playlist: James Blunt

This British musician makes sure his music is personal.

Sept. 20, 2007 — -- James Blunt wasn't always happy playing instruments and making music.

"As a child, my mother forced me to play things like the violin when I was 5 and the piano when I was 7," Blunt says. At that age, I didn't' really aspire to be a musician, but I definitely enjoyed music."

It was at age 14 that Blunt realized his passion for music. He heard a classmate playing the electric guitar and got hooked.

Blunt, born in England in 1974, is the first British artist to top the American singles charts in nearly a decade. He scored five Grammy nominations for his first album, "Back to Bedlam," in 2006.

The first single off of the album, "You're Beautiful," was Blunt's breakout hit.

"'You're Beautiful" is about a moment where I saw my ex-girlfriend on the underground with her new man, who I didn't know existed, and she and I caught eyes and lived a lifetime in that moment," Blunt said. "But I didn't do anything at the time, and I haven't seen her."

With a long line of military men in his family, Blunt served in the British army as well and spent six months in Kosovo as a captain during the NATO peacekeeping operation. It was in Kosovo that Blunt wrote "No Bravery," a song also from his first album.

Blunt lives on Ibiza, a Spanish island, where he wrote the songs for his latest album, "All the Lost Souls," which comes out this week.

"The first [album] was naive and innocent in its approach, and that was part of it's charm, I think," Blunt said. "But the second album, I have a little more experience as a songwriter and a little more confidence. And with the amazing things that happened with "Back to Bedlam," which I never expected in the first place, it kind of gave me a freedom really … because I know I can't compete with the first and I don't want to write songs to please a previous audience or the people who didn't enjoy the first or try and get one critic to give me a good review.

"So instead," he said, "I made an album that I enjoyed, with songs that have meant a lot over the past 3½ years."

Blunt often frequents the many nightclubs on Ibiza. Appropriately, his newly released single, "1973," is about a nightclub there called Pacha.

For Blunt, songwriting is all about going on a journey for both himself and the audience.

"I have a couple songs about different people and their journey along the way," he said. "There is a song about a girl called Annie, and she is searching for success in life and through fame and recognition and not achieving it and realizing through the journey that actually in life success is defined in many different ways ... other than those shallow definitions of either fame or money."

Unlike many other pop stars, Blunt does not foresee collaborating with other artists in the near future.

"My songs are so personal about my own life experience, about the journey that I am going through," he said, "so I don't feel really comfortable in sharing in a writing sense or a performing sense with other artists."

How about this?

Good Vibrations

Blunt recalls going on long car rides with his family when he was growing up and his parents putting music on to keep the children quiet in the backseat. "One song I remember endlessly was good vibrations by the Beach Boys on constant Play," Blunt said.


When Blunt was 14 years old he discovered the electric guitar and was hooked. He cites Pink Floyd as being a great influence over him at that age. "Money" was a song I remember playing over just for that incredible sample that it had on repeat and just the way they made music in the first place the way they recorded music was so diverse and so aw inspiring. Everything else I'd heard was quite strict on its singer songwriter vain. These were a really diverse band who were really experimental with their production," Blunt said.


"Leonard Cohen wrote an amazing song called Hallelujah and the most incredible take on that was Jeff Buckley's and so hearing him sing that to feel the mood that he captures with that song has def. been an inspiration for me not only as a song writer but also then how it is produced with the simplicity and the honesty which he gets the production and the vocals and the feeling of that song through," Blunt said.

Maybe Not

"There is a singer/songwriter called Cat Power and she just has a new raw production, really simple approach to her music and the simplicity is really engaging the way she captures what it is she is trying to get across and what she's trying to get across on the whole is some pretty miserable ideas," Blunt said. "I think my favorite song of hers is one called "Maybe Not" which is a desperately sad song but wonderful nonetheless."

Mr. Brightside

Being locked in the studio for the past 4 months, Blunt didn't have a lot of time to catch up on new music, but says The Killer's "Mr. Brightside" was a song that really excited him last year.

"Mr. Brightside was a great song and it's great melody, great rhythm within it's melody as well and it tells it's own story as well and to do so with so much energy and so much flare that yeah, as a band, great fun."