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“I appreciate the lessons I learned while being in the army”

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Sometimes album cover images only make sense to musicians or bands, but the image of The Stars Beneath My Feet (2004-2021), the first collection of James Blunt’s greatest hits, relates a very significant story. We see Blunt strumming a guitar while wearing a soldier’s helmet, which is branded and scribbled. Long before the 47-year-old songwriter became a multi-million-selling artist, he served in the British Army, reaching the rank of captain, and deployed with NATO to Kosovo, where, in 1999 , he led a NATO peacekeeping force from the North Macedonian border to Pristina International Airport.

“I was a soldier for six years, then a musician,” Blunt explains, via Zoom. “The fact that the helmet on the album cover was graffiti, drawn, shows that someone ditched the uniform and slipped out of the uniform, and ended up instead. really appreciates the many lessons I have learned from being in the military.You realize that there are always two sides to an argument.

The Stars Beneath My Feet (2004-2021) is James Blunt’s debut collection of hits.

Blunt was still in the military when dreams of becoming a full-time musician, successful or not, filtered through his mind. During his posting throughout his time in Kosovo, he would perform for his troops, and it was there that he wrote one of his best-known songs, No Bravery.

From the age of 14, he says, he would tell anyone who wanted to listen to him that he wanted to write songs, sing them on stage and record them. “Of course, I’ve had a lot of dead ends trying to find my niche and a niche in the music business, but when you’re just starting out you don’t really know which direction to go. I remember inviting record companies to come. until many early gigs in London, but I was doing it the wrong way.

“I realized I needed a manager who could show me how to navigate the shark infested waters of the music business, when I could at least focus on the music. I had the truly naive belief. that’s what I would do. I think that trust, that naive trust, though, is important because otherwise you would realize how incredibly difficult it is.

He admits the early days were a challenge. “I really struggled, but I was lucky to find the right kind of manager, someone who is still my manager today. I have been very lucky, and since then I have been incredibly well cared for and cared for in the music business.

Spending extended time in this environment was new to me, my house has been broken into three times and we’ve been through Brexit, haven’t we. So there was a lot to write about

Like the rest of us, Blunt is cautiously coming back to life after Covid. When the pandemic enveloped us, he was halfway through the European stage of a world tour. His group and team returned home and the pub he had just opened in London (“the Fox & Pheasant in Chelsea, and you are all welcome now”) had to close.

“I came home to Ibiza, where I hadn’t really spent much time because I had been on tour, almost full time, for about 17 years, and found out that I had kids. that I had never heard of. Spending extended time in this environment was new to me, my house has been broken into three times and we’ve been through Brexit, haven’t we. So there was a lot to write about.

Of the songs collected on The Stars Beneath My Feet, four new originals are a taste of what’s to come for the avid Blunt fan. For now, the rest, he says, represents the best of his six studio albums to date. “The great thing about a hit collection,” he concludes, “is that you get to pick the songs you’re most proud of. In many ways an album like this is the one that excites me the most.

James Blunt:

James Blunt: “I remember inviting record companies to go to many early gigs in London, but I was doing it the wrong way”

His music – and the negative reactions from some people – is something Blunt jokes about with self-deprecation, especially on his very funny Twitter account. “You’re right, I did, but I’ll say it again,” he warns. “If you’re the type of person who wants James Blunt to release just one album, then this is this album.”

PANEL: AMAZING THOUGHTS ON NOL

How different will this Christmas be for you?
“Well, first of all, what record company would be cynical enough to release a record for the Christmas market? How could they do that? I don’t know if I can even remember what last Christmas was like to be honest, it’s so blurry. It’s been like a wasted year, hasn’t it? I think it could potentially be a normal Christmas, but it’s been such a strange time – I couldn’t see my dad, who was isolating himself with health issues. Being able to be in the same room with the family again, meeting each other is really life, so of course I’m looking forward to Christmas this year.

Are you, in general, a Christmas person?
“I love it, mainly because it’s the only two-week period of the year that the music industry around the world is shutting down, which means we’re at home.”

What would you like for Christmas?
“I’m not a materialistic person, so spending time with my friends and family would be all I could want. And, of course, a bottle of something we could drink together would be great.

The stars below My Feet (2004-2021) by James Blunt was released on Atlantic Records. James Blunt performs at Iveagh Gardens, Dublin July 10, 2022. ticketmaster.fr