“Some lyrics come in a flash,” says British singer/songwriter James
Blunt. “They almost come faster than you can get them down, and you
look skywards and think, ‘Wow, thank God that arrived for me.’” Blunt’s
hit single, “You’re Beautiful”—which reportedly arrived from the ether
in about 20 seconds—spent eight weeks at number one on the U.K. singles
chart, and Sir Elton John compared it to his own “Your Song.” “That was a huge compliment,” says Blunt. “Of course, I paid him to say that [laughs].”Blunt picked up the guitar at age 14, and drew great inspiration from Neil Young, Cat Stevens, Lou Reed, Elton John, and Paul Simon. His favorite contemporary songwriters include Elliot Smith and Cat Power, and he was so inspired by Smith that he sought out Smith’s producer, Tom Rothrock, for the recording of his major-label debut, Back to Bedlam [Custard/Atlantic]. Writing the material for that album spanned several years—including throughout his four-year tour of duty in the British Army. From his barracks in Kosovo, he wrote “No Bravery” on his Gibson acoustic, which he would sometimes hang off the back of a tank.
“The song just flowed,” he says. “In that environment, it’s very obvious what you need to say, and you try to express some form of emotion.”
Though that guitar made it back from the war, it met a tragic end in a minor motorbike accident. However, Blunt soon acquired the one guitar he now does everything on—a 1966 Gibson J45.
“It’s beaten up, but it sounds great,” he says.
Blunt’s songwriting process is free from rules. “Often, it’s just messing around on the guitar until I hear something that sounds interesting or that has a good feel to it,” he says. “It might be just one musical phrase that creates a melody, and a bit of a lyric that sets a mood. From there, you start building a song. I never record my melodies or chords—I just have my lyric sheets—because if a song is good, and if it evokes an emotion, you’ll remember it.”
While some of his songs come in a flash of inspiration, others require a bit more time and attention.
“The song ‘Wisemen’ took about a decade from the initial idea until the day I made it into something interesting by reworking it,” he recalls. “It’s hard to know when a song is finished, and I often don’t know. I take it to a certain point, but the first time you play it live is the only time you can feel whether it really works or not.”
Paul Simonon's Famous Smashed Precision Bass (VIDEO)
Orange Amplification Launches The OBC210 Mini Bass Amp
Check Out Rex Brown's Isolated Bass Track for Pantera's "I'm Broken" (VIDEO)
TRENDING: Sam Smith, Disclosure Premiere “Omen” Video
123creative.com Releases 'Mindhacker's Notebook: Bazille Presets'
Just Released: Bonnaroo Videos
Startup The One unveils light-up Smart Piano focused on learning, crowdfunding campaign
Native Instruments releases Lone Forest expansion for Maschine
Fiona Apple’s “Criminal” - Who covered it better?
Jeff Beck Stars in Roger Waters’ New “What God Wants, Part 1” Music Video
Led Zeppelin Premiere Early Version of “When the Levee Breaks”
Deep Purple Perform “Smoke on the Water” on the ‘Today’ Show | Video
Lamb of God Featured on the Cover of Next Issue of Revolver — Read an Excerpt from the Cover Story
Viral Video: Things Fangirls Say to Musicians
Pop Evil Premiere New Song, “In Disarray”
Guitar World's 11 Essential Thrash Metal Albums
Iwrestledabearonce Premiere "Green Eyes" Playthrough Video — Exclusive
Guitarist Lee Ritenour Discusses His New Album, ‘A Twist of Rit’
Copyright ©2015 by NewBay Media, LLC. All Rights Reserved. 28 East 28th Street, 12th floor, New York, NY 10016 T (212) 378-0400 F (212) 378-0470