James Blunt stated that he has not changed or matured.

James Blunt stated that he has not changed or matured.


At exactly noon, James Blunt enters Gymkhana in Mayfair with a sense of urgency. As he settles into our booth with leather seats, he reflects on the common question about one’s legacy. He hopes that his legacy will be remembered as the most punctual man in the world of rock and roll. When asked about his well-being, the 50-year-old singer-songwriter enthusiastically responds that he is doing great. He then mentions his lunch invitation at Gymkhana and suggests setting aside talk about music for the moment. Instead, he proposes having beer, curry, and letting the day unfold as it will.

Gymkhana is that rare dining spot: a place of impeccable service and food – it recently won a second Michelin star – that also manages to feel relaxed and discreet. It’s little surprise that it has been a hit with celebrities, and everyone else, since it opened in 2013. Blunt looks around the wood-panelled, clubby interior: you suspect he’s more often here in the late evenings rather than lunch. “Yeah, I’ve been photographed rolling out of here before, falling out of here,” he confirms.

What food would Blunt suggest? “Just to mention, I usually come here with Sheeran, who is very familiar with it. He’s the one making the choices.”

Ed Sheeran, a close friend and godfather to Blunt’s eldest son, has a two-inch scar under his right eye from a playful sword fight with Blunt at Prince Andrew’s house in 2016. Sheeran has expressed his admiration for Blunt’s music and even played his album Back to Bedlam during his wife’s labor in 2020. In the documentary One Brit Wonder, Sheeran referred to Blunt as a “national treasure”.

Blunt states that they paid a significant amount for the positive sentiment, a quarter of a million specifically.

Despite having faced criticism from fellow musicians and the media, Blunt’s recent recognition at the 2006 Brits, where he won two awards, has been a welcome change. In the past, his privileged background and military career were often used as easy targets for ridicule. Prior to the award show, Paul Weller even stated that he would rather do something unpleasant than collaborate with Blunt. At the ceremony, Blunt’s attempt to shake hands with Mick Jagger was ignored. And during a later appearance on Jools Holland’s show, Damon Albarn refused to take a group photo with Blunt. The NME even named Blunt’s album, Back to Bedlam, the worst of 2006, an award he only received last year alongside his Brits and Ivor Novellos.

The level of hate was extreme and, looking back after almost 20 years, seems almost unhinged. Does Blunt, with seven albums and still touring arenas in Europe and America – this spring, he will have shows all over the UK, including two at the Royal Albert Hall – believe that his music has been evaluated more fairly?

Blunt acknowledges that Paul Simon is a talented individual, but he does not see himself as one. He may not have a perfect singing voice, but he is aware that he can sing in tune. Despite criticism about his singing abilities, he can still hit the right notes when using a tuner. He also believes that he has the ability to convey emotions through his music, as seen in his song “You’re Beautiful.” However, he admits that he cannot achieve this every time.

Blunt enthusiastically praises his album “Back to Bedlam,” which was the top-selling album in the UK during the 2000s. He confidently states that even with Damon Albarn present, the album stands strong. He also mentions that significant individuals, including members of the Beatles, have praised it.

By the way, that was Paul McCartney. Our food has been brought to us: Blunt chose chicken butter masala and asked the waiter to select a few appetizers and side dishes. The Cobra lager, served in goblets, is being consumed with ease. Blunt’s natural tendency is to mock himself before anyone else can. This style will be recognizable to his 2.2 million followers on X, previously known as Twitter, where his sharp comebacks are renowned. (Example: In 2016, one user wrote, “Who invited James Blunt to the Invictus Games?” His reply: “Prince Harry. Via text. BOOM!”)

Blunt’s approach to dealing with X involves composing a post, sharing it with either his spouse or supervisor, and if they react negatively, he sends it anyway. He reflects, “With the creation of Twitter, I finally had a platform to refute the false image they have of me.”

Occasionally, particularly when he draws a parallel to Paul Simon, Blunt becomes more sincere. The backlash he faced after his initial breakthrough was clearly hurtful and has had a lasting impact. As he tears into a basket of naans, he reflects on his naive dream of becoming a successful touring musician and how it ultimately became a reality. However, the sudden backlash caught him off guard and he wishes he could have savored his success for a little longer before facing criticism.

If you are going to stand out and be successful, you might as well make the most of it. According to Blunt, the gardener was quite skilled. Did he receive counseling? No, I don’t require it. Your support is enough for me!

Lunch With James BluntView image in fullscreen

After the release of his album Back to Bedlam, Blunt relocated to Ibiza and frequented various clubs. He even constructed his own club in his backyard, complete with a large sign that reads “Blunty’s Nightclub: Where Everybody’s Beautiful.” He describes it as an amazing place, conveniently located within crawling distance from his bed. Many DJs have visited, but some have left upon realizing its more juvenile atmosphere resembling a teenager’s disco. However, popular DJ Pete Tong has performed there and rapper P Diddy even sent 400 bottles of Cîroc vodka upon hearing about Blunt’s club. In the first year, Blunt and his friend Billy managed to consume 50 of those bottles.

Blunt has undoubtedly had an exceptional first 50 years, and he has a plethora of stories to share. During his time at Bristol University, he formed a busking duo with the renowned adventurer, Bear Grylls, under the name Limp Willy and the Disappointments. Blunt turned to Grylls for assistance when he found himself in a predicament after being invited to Jamie Foxx’s hotel suite by his then-girlfriend, Lindsay Lohan. In a moment of desperation, Blunt texted Grylls, who suggested he consume the “angry floater.” Although this is a tale that Blunt shared at the end of our meal, I am grateful to have heard it. Blunt reveals, “Bear has been a trusted confidant who has helped me navigate through numerous challenging situations.”

This story and the Sheeran account can be found in Blunt’s highly enjoyable “non-memoir,” which was released at the end of last year and is titled Loosely Based on a Made-Up Story. In the preface, it is noted that many of the stories have been exaggerated and that “some of what follows is based on reality, but most of it is not. In fact, my lawyer insists that I clarify that none of this really happened… It’s partly true, but not entirely accurate, and I may have taken liberties with the truth, Your Honor.” When asked about the book today, he states: “As I’m speaking to you as a friend, everything in the book is true. Well, except for one significant moment. But that one moment opens up the whole book to questioning its truthfulness.”

In 2014, Blunt tied the knot with attorney Sofia Wellesley and they are now parents to two children. Has life become less hectic? Blunt responds, “I believe you’re asking if I’ve evolved and matured?” He adds, “Honestly, not really.”

After finishing our meal, we are overwhelmed by the amount of food and request the bill. As he prepares to leave, I mention to Blunt that he seems to attract absurd and comical mishaps. He seems surprised by this idea. “I don’t think so,” he responds before bursting into laughter. “I live by the motto ‘I’ll try anything once!’ Life is meant to be lived, and I’ve instilled this in my children. To me, the saddest word is ‘No’ and the most exciting is ‘Yes’. In the army, we would say ‘Yes, we can do this’. Can you lend a hand? ‘Yes, I can.’ Are you up for the challenge, even if it’s difficult? ‘Yeah, I am’.”

James Blunt will be touring the United Kingdom from March 30th to April 14th.

Source: theguardian.com