The Whip recently had the good fortune to sit down with multi-platinum selling songwriter, ex-army man, and Bristol alumnus James Blunt.
The following is a verbatim transcript of the interview.
Whip: Oxford has Oscar Wilde. Cambridge has Isaac Newton. Bristol has James Blunt. How does it feel to be our most famous alumnus?
JB: Really great actually. I too often feel that I don’t really get the recognition I deserve, so it’s nice to be placed amongst that elite peer group. Me, Isaac, and Oscar – we really changed the world.
Whip: Did you enjoy your time at UoB? What is your best memory of your time here?
JB: Yes, I had a great time. Loads of friends, loads of banter with the boys. I was in University Hall in Stoke Bishop and we got up to all sorts of malarky, believe me!
Whip: What kind of stuff?
JB: Oh, I dunno. Where to start? One night in particular springs to mind. It must’ve been at least one or two am, me and the boys went up the hill towards Wills with some booze. We all had nicknames for each other then: ‘top shagger’, ‘top drinker’, ‘top raver’ – mine was ‘Bluntflaps’, or occasionally ‘Fat Blunt’. Anyway, we were all drinking and having a good time when out of the blue the boys stripped me naked, tied me to a tree and drenched me in beer. Left me out there all night ‘till I was found six hours later by a jogger. Top, top banter from the lads, it really was. Caught pneumonia and was in the ICU for 2 days, wasn’t I! Amazing prank, got to hand it to them.
Whip: James, that sounds awful. Did you ever consider that the UH boys were bullying you?
JB: No, no, not at all. It’s just banter, we were best mates, really – our motto was ‘no rastafari stands alone’. They were all invited to my wedding. None of them came, of course, so ironically I was standing alone at the alter until my wife came down the aisle. Top lads, though, really great guys.
Whip: Sounds good! Your best selling single ‘You’re Beautiful’ has sold over 3 million copies in the US alone. How important was your time at UoB to the composition of that song?
JB: Very. I actually wrote the chorus while locked in the bathroom of UH. The boys had pulled another classic gag and barricaded the door while they went out clubbing. I must’ve been in there for two hours at least just staring at myself in the mirror when I came up with it. ‘You’re beautiful, James’. I then whispered to myself, ‘You’re beautiful, its true’. Bam!
Whip: That sounds like a very personal moment. What can you tell us about your time as an officer in the Army?
JB: Funny story actually. Me and some of the squaddies were on the way back from seeing a gig in Southampton during a summer recess when they pulled the car over somewhere along Salisbury Plain. They bundled me out, slammed the doors and drove off. It was my car as well!
Whip: What happened next?
JB: I just wandered the moor for days, eating fistfuls of moss and drinking rainwater to survive. Eventually I was found by a Marine corps unit out on exercise and was taken back to camp. I was naked, covered in my own excrement and pretty emaciated. They bottle-fed me goat’s milk, swaddled me and left me in the bottom left oven of an Aga to bring up my core temperature. After that I never really left, even when they asked me to. I tended to occasionally join in with training and then one day went off to Kosovo to join a war. Good stuff!
Whip: Ok James that’s enough, I think we’ve run out of time now. Thanks very much for coming in and sharing your stories, it’s been good to hear from you.
JB: Please don’t leave me, I’m so troubled.