When James Blunt was a British army captain serving in Kosovo, he saw humanity at its worst. But when he became a successful musician, his breakthrough song celebrated humanity at its best. Since releasing "You're Beautiful" in 2005, Blunt has sold more than 18 million records, been nominated for five Grammys and won many music awards. But he still divides music critics.
"I'm sure they're nice when they are asleep," Blunt says of his critics. "Music is about personal taste, and I'm really lucky that I've put music out, and millions of people have enjoyed it. Some critics have not enjoyed it so much. Would I prefer to have critical acclaim from them, or have millions of people get the album and come to the concerts? I'd take the latter."
Blunt says he feels lucky that people listen and can connect to his music.
"It means that the voice in my head can communicate and relate to the voice in other people's heads," he tells Weekend Edition Sunday host Scott Simon. "For that, I'm blown away."
Blunt grew up in a military family. When he told his relatives that he was leaving to pursue a career in music, his father gave him some valuable advice.
"He said: 'To leave the army with a steady job and career prospects, and to leave it for the music business is a gamble. There are thousands of people looking for record deals, and there's only 1 in 10 who make a living out of it,' " Blunt says. "I said: 'Hey, Dad, I don't think success should be measured by finances and how much you make, but instead in how much you enjoy it.' And he said: 'If that's what you're going for. Go for your life.' "
Since then, Blunt has released three albums, including the new Some Kind of Trouble. Included on this record is "Stay the Night," an upbeat tune that's different from the type of songs for which he's best known.
"It's [the happiest] I've ever written," Blunt says. "I was lucky enough to record my first two albums [in California]. I loved the experience there, and it shows."