Let me confess up front- I am a Britney Spears fan. I know every word of every song that she sang before 2004. No, that is a lie. I can sing all of her songs ever! As catchy as her songs used to be, they didn’t teach you much about life unless your life was tangled in boy-problems. This is true of most songs of our age. No one ever wants to write, sing or hear songs that tell stories anymore. But James Blunt gnaws his way out of the stereotype.
If I had to spend the rest of my life listening to songs by just one singer, I would choose James Blunt. It would be a tough competition between him and Drake, but JB would win. I have the most bizarre/romantic story about how I first came upon his songs. I found an unlabelled CD in my father’s car that had Wisemen on it. Just that one song. No one knew where that CD had come from or who it belonged to. I was a 16 year old hopeless romantic who took that as a sign and listened to nothing but all the songs from Back to Bedlam for a whole month.
At that age, I never really understood James’ songs. To me they were just words about three wisemen or a year where Simona grew old or a woman who is beautiful. The rest were just JB crooning. It took me two heartbreaks and an article about the meaning behind the song to understand what Wisemen was all about. As a person who has had a safe and a happy childhood, the concept of bullying being life changing in any way was hard to grasp. But this song has been a great source of consolation and strength to many who fight the bullies that have stayed in their minds years after middle-school was over. “Look who’s alone now, it’s not me. Those three wisemen, they’ve got a semi by the sea.”
When James sang No Bravery, I felt my eyes welling up each time. There is no hidden meaning in this song. It is in your face. The brutality of war and consequences faced by everyone but those who actually want the war. Having served in the army himself, James doesn’t mince his words. I recently read an article that went on to describe how JB single-handedly prevented a World War III. I adore him, but I thought the article was a notch higher on the cuckoo-scale. Exaggeration aside, if you listen closely, you feel the pain of war in James’ lyrics. “And I see no bravery in your eyes, just fear.”
I read PS I love you and thought it was ridiculous. Everyone I know thinks I am a horrible human being for not liking that book. A dear friend decided to give me a second chance and took me for the movie. Although the movie was heart-wrenchingly moving, it was hearing JB’s voice singing Same Mistake in the end that made me cry. Singing about beautiful love is easy. Everyone does that. But singing about flawed love is hard. And James does that flawlessly. “And maybe someday we will meet; And maybe talk but not just speak. Don’t buy the promises because there are no promises I keep.”
James Blunt has sung some really great songs over the years. He has won awards for them. At one point, a British radio channel had to ban his songs because he kept topping all the charts and people kept requesting the same tracks over and over again! But there’s one song, relatively unnoticed, that has touched me the most. Out of my Mind. As I grow older, I understand the song better.
“We all need a pantomime to remind us what is real.” With one line, James Blunt describes the global society in the twenty-first century . In the United States, we needed a brilliant-orange painted performer to show that our color, our race, our religion is making someone hate us enough to build walls to divide us. The elaborate exhibitions of dramatic proportions made us all realize that even after centuries of building a land together with sweat and blood from all over the globe, the first man to lay claim over a land and destroying its ancient history, thought himself to be supreme. In Europe, the performances had to be so real that only washed up bodies of children could grab the attention of millions of people turning a blind-eye to problems of people forced to leave their home and lives.
Love, life, truth- James Blunt can sing about it all. Over the years, his songs have started to decrease in depth. Maybe I have to grow older and wiser to be able to fully understand them. In the meantime, I will bask in the glorious sunshine of James’ voice and lyrics. Someday I’ll meet someone who loves them like I do. Till then, “Beautiful dawn, you’re just blowing my mind again. Thought I was born to endless night, until you shine.”