James Blunt, the equally popular and maligned British singer-songwriter, releases a new album and a book in one week. ‘My album is serious, that book is mainly for laughter.’
When not on tour, James Blunt divides his time between Ibiza and Verbier, Switzerland. Not long after buying a luxurious villa in Ibiza in 2006, Noel Gallagher sold his. Gallagher, then a member of Oasis, stated that he could not live with the idea that on the same island that damn Blunt shitty songs was writing.
In his book Loosely Based on a Made-Up Story Blunt has many more examples of colleagues hating him. Mick Jagger once refused an outstretched hand from him and demonstratively looked away. Damon Albarn, with whom he was once a guest on the program Later… With Jools Hollanddid not want to be in a group photo afterwards that also included Blunt.
And Paul Weller once said he’d rather eat shit than work with James Blunt. In an Amsterdam hotel room, James Blunt says: “But I never asked Weller to work with me. His comment must have been an excuse to enjoy his own shit.”
You can laugh with James Blunt, as his 2,229,230 followers on Twitter (which only calls Elon Musk X) know. Because of his jokes he is also popular with people who have no interest in his music. When announcing a new tour, on which he will also visit Amsterdam’s Afas Live, female idol Blunt recently wrote: ‘An arena full of women. Lads, what are you waiting for?”
Loosely Based on a Made-Up Story, in which Blunt looks back on his life and career, is full of that kind of humor. It is the kind of book that makes you, as a reader, constantly find yourself laughing out loud.
Blunt’s promotional visit to Amsterdam has a twofold purpose. His seventh album was released almost simultaneously with his memoirs Who We Used To Be. What did he enjoy more, recording that album or writing the book?
“Writing a book is new to me. A book with my name on it was previously published, but that was nothing more than a collection of tweets from me. It was such a success that my publisher said: now we want a real book from you. I worked on it for two years and really enjoyed doing it. It’s my first real book. I feel the same excitement as when my first album came out.”
We certainly shouldn’t make anything important about it Loosely Based on a Made-Up Story, he says. “My new album is serious, that book is mainly for laughs.”
The boy on the cover of Who We Used To Be, playing with a model airplane, is himself. “I was ten years old and my father took the photo. He also made that plane. I thought it was a fitting image for an album on which I look back on my life so far. When you are young you are full of questions. I found the answer to many of those questions, but new questions keep arising.”
What did he want to be when he was ten? “I wanted to go into music. I became a professional soldier, just like my father was, but that dream of a life as a pop musician always remained. Apparently I talked about it so much in the army that my bored buddies said: ‘Just do it’.”
As a soldier he had an officer rank. He fought in Kosovo and was one of the pallbearers at the funeral of the British Queen Mother in 2002. It is a rather unusual background for British pop musicians, just like his more than wealthy background.
King of self-mockery
Blunt, who became world famous overnight with the song in 2005 You’re Beautiful, sold 23.5 million albums. But as popular as he is, he is also maligned. Not only by colleagues, but especially by the British music press. At the back of his book, Blunt, the king of self-mockery, quotes for a chapter from the very worst pieces published about him.
When the reporter admits that he laughed a lot at some of the quotes, Blunt says: “I just laugh at it myself. What else should I do? Some journalists in the UK are really nasty people. I won’t let them fool me. I always say: when I sail on a yacht in the Mediterranean, they are the men standing on the beach staring through binoculars and telephoto lenses. I think I have a lot more fun on that boat.”
He also thinks his life is a lot more fun than those of the people who attack him on Twitter. “Man is a horrible creature, and nowhere will you find more convincing evidence of this than on Twitter. Sometimes I send a personal message to people who are extremely negative about me: ‘Are you doing well? Is something bothering you and would you like to talk about it?’ They are very surprised by such a direct approach. And indeed, they often really have a problem.”
But why is he on Twitter in the first place, there must be much more fun things for him to do? “I like making those jokes. I am careful with it. Never tweet when you’re drunk is a rule. And in principle I first show what I throw out to one of my PR people or to someone from my management. But if they say ‘don’t do it’, I usually do it anyway.”
Does he ever retract a tweet?
“Never,” he says firmly.
After a short silence: “Okay, in the beginning I deleted a tweet because no one responded to it.”