James Blunt on the force of fame

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      Unapologetic balladeer James Blunt thinks happiness does matter and hits the ”˜70s in All the Lost Souls

      When James Blunt released his 2005 debut album, Back to Bedlam, no one expected it to sell a million copies-or 11 million. But there was something about the British singer-songwriter's self-described "acoustic-soul-pop-guitar-folk thing" that struck a chord with the record-buying public.

      As he explains on the line from Italy, there was no specific targeting of the soccer-mom demographic via ultra-sensitive ballads like "You're Beautiful" and "No Bravery". He was simply out to please himself.

      "I'm singing songs for myself that mean a great deal to me as a conscious human being," explains the 34-year-old troubadour. "I don't think it should be about age or sex or race or religion-it's about subjects that all of us should be able to relate to and understand, because as humans, no matter where we're from, we still share the same human emotions. We're all trying to survive through life; we all feel the need to connect with other people. That's what I'm singing about, and I'm kinda glad that other people seem to relate to that too."

      Blunt is currently in the midst of a 14-month world tour in support of Back to Bedlam's 2007 follow-up, All the Lost Souls. At least two songs on that disc-"One of the Brightest Stars" and "Annie"-were inspired by his meteoric rise to fame.

      "I guess we kind of think that success nowadays is defined by fame and fortune," he relates. "Rich and famous, that's what children want to be. And yet those two human constructs are as shallow and meaningless as we could possibly invent. It's been real interesting to recognize that and be part of it, and to kind of question why we don't define success by something as clear and as simple as happiness instead."

      A deluxe, CD/DVD edition of All the Lost Souls is set for release on November 25. It will include the documentary Return to Kosovo-a former British soldier, Blunt served there under NATO in 1999-and tracks re-recorded at Abbey Road Studios, including a version of Lost Souls' semi-rocking first single, "1973". Blunt wrote most of his sophomore album in Ibiza, and spent "far too much time" at the Spanish island's most famous nightclub, Pacha, which originally opened in '73.

      The new version of All the Lost Souls also sports covers of '70s tunes by Supertramp ("Breakfast in America") and Slade ("Coz I Love You"). Though he wasn't even born until '74, Blunt feels an affinity for the era of flared jeans and eight-track tapes. "I do think the '70s were a special time for music," he says, "because songs were socially aware back then. They weren't singing about their fast car or their flash watch, you know."

      James Blunt plays GM Place on Monday (November 17).