DIARY - 1 FEBRUARY 2005 - JAMES BLUNDELL INTERVIEW
BLUNDELL WAGES PEACE ON WAR
brother had a dream/ my brother wore the jungle green/ my brother went
to Vietnam for Harold Holt and Uncle Sam." - Postcards From Saigon
- Terry McArthur-James Blundell.
Blundell returned to Amsterdam last year he selected different digs from
the attic above a brothel that he used for creative stimulation on a previous
"We stayed in an hotel," Blundell, 40, told Nu Country TV on
the eve of Tamworth On Tour concert at Hamer Hall on Saturday February
"Things are improving."
The former singing stockman has changed his style since who won a brace
of Golden Guitars in mainstream country days.
Blundell is touring nationally to promote eighth album Deluge on his independent
The one time choir boy and jackeroo, who took up singing professionally
after being bucked one too many times by ferocious bulls, is enjoying
a better ride with second wife Lydia who hails from Belgrade.
James and Lydia met about seven years ago during a two-year European busking
stint in a Kombi Van.
This time they left their son Briar, aged six, at home while he spent
four days writing in Dublin with Rory Coleman, had a six-day break in
Amsterdam and shopped his new disc at MIDEM in Cannes.
"It looks we'll get it released in Germany and France and we're waiting
to hear about Canada," says Blundell.
"We're licensing it to small and agile labels and starting the fire."
Blundell cut Deluge with Phil Rigger and Terry McArthur from Sydney
spoken word outfit The Cube who also penned songs for Tina Arena and John
The duo wrote Any Other Way, Love Gets In The Way and the title
track of the disc produced and mixed by Rigger.
But Blundell spread his wings by writing or co-writing the bulk of the
eclectic album anchored by two provocative anti war songs.
created a fictitious brother for the main character in Postcards
From Saigon - a saga about post war Vietnam.
The character's best friend dies in his arms in battle, later suffers
a divorce and shares tragedy with a new wife who miscarries twice.
"That wasn't my brother," says Blundell whose elder sibling
Peter, 42, helps their dad run their Stanthorpe farm - in the family
"It's more metaphoric. I have been intrigued by the Australian
role in war service. My grandfather and father were in World War 1
based on a documentary being made about Australia's role in Vietnam since
the war. It's totally shot from an Australian perspective. A lot of Australians
went back there. It's an interesting culture but the super powers are
embroiled in same scenario again. I'm hoping to Christ that they're learning
something from it but doesn't seem to be the case."
So Blundell wrote another song Back It Up with Paul Soussan - bassist
for Billy Idol and Ozzie Osborne - while working on another Los Angeles
"War was brewing in the background in the U.S. when I was there,"
"How do you convince the fundamentalists that they're wrong, at one
stage one is going to kill the other? We're living in an age with access
to much enlightenment but we're still too stupid to pick up the pieces.
What breaks my heart is you rationalise until you're blue in the face
and they'll call you a heretic and four years later they'll say you were
right. But it's too late. A lot of people are dead. Once blood's spilled
you can't go backwards. I was astounded by the deafening silence from
the music community during that process"
performed his song at Sydney's Rock The War concert and posted it on the
web as a free download.
The live version, spliced with war footage, will be a video on his planned
DVD and created a 75-25 split among his web page hits.
"Seventy five per cent of emails said war was a stupid thing to do
as a culture," says Blundell.
"The others were saying you have to stand and deliver. But we've
woken up in this country, we're an egalitarian society. The national psyche
has developed more rapidly in last five or six years than in the 30 years
preceding it. We realise we're not fucked up but a lot of other countries
are. I love living here - so glad we live on a big island because it's
turning to shit everywhere else."
Blundell wrote a brace of love songs on this disc - Be Strong was
a ruptured romance requiem inspired by his second marriage.
"Believe me during periods in the creative process you put love well
and truly to the test," Blundell said.
"We seemed to have sorted all those dramas out."
found solace in his song writing when his mother Marjorie Ruth,
now 74, was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease.
Marjorie - a Queensland chorister - enlisted her son in choirs at
seven and was his major mentor.
"Mum had to go into a home for dementia, Alzheimer's,"
"In a bush family that's real drama because that's half the
support system taken away.
The big flag
is when your parents start to age. She is a dear friend, a great singer
and totally fearless. I owe her the lot. Our family was very musical like
the Waltons. When she was cooking dinner we would sing. She would stand
in church and sing so loud, brother Peter would get embarrassed."
Blundell and fellow Tamworth Golden Guitar winners Sara Storer, Felicity,
Travis Collins, Carter & Carter, Feral Swing Katz & Dianna Corcoran
perform in Tamworth On Tour at Hamer Hall at 8 p m on Saturday February
12. Phone Bookings 1 300 136 166
JAMES BLUNDELL INTERVIEW FROM 1999.
Blundell went through a painful divorce after a fairy tale marriage he
harvested hay from hell.
Blundell fled to Europe where he found solace in a new wife and busking
to road test a brace of songs he wrote to purge his pain.
And he firmly shares the belief of major peers - seven times wed David
Allan Coe, six times betrothed Steve Earle and the late Harlan Howard
- that divorce is fertile fodder for song.
"It's the world's worst bumps and bruises, a double whammy,"
"It was complete naivete. I never expected that would be an option,
that is like the fairy tale bubble bursting without any kind of coming
back from it. Secondly, when you get through it you realise that you're
one of pretty much half the planet who have been through that incredibly
intense situation. It gives you a great understanding of why people develop
attitudes or concepts about relationships."
Blundell was the subject of a True Stories feature on pay TV channel CMT
before it ceased operations in Australia.
That coincided with the release of his sixth album Amsterdam Breakfast,
released shortly after the birth of his son Briar.
The singer busked throughout Europe and the U.S. with his Belgrade born
bride Lydia - source of many of his new songs.
"A number of people have said 'how the hell can your remarry, having
just been through a divorce?' Blundell said.
"By the time I had excised it all out of my mind I had a rough idea
of what had gone wrong. I wasn't frightened of it."
Blundell said the divorce enabled him to meet the demand of record companies.
"I've copped a lot of flack over the years for not writing enough
love songs, mainly from record companies because love songs sell, "
"By the same token love is such a serious issue in my perspective
you don't write songs that aren't real. The song Memory Lane tells
it as it is. Our walk to the altar (Lydia and I) was anything but rose
strewn, it was thorn strewn. As a result you value the relationship so
much more and because you make the conscious choice to make it work it's
a much more valuable relationship."
Blundell, whose family have owned and worked a 9,800 acre mixed grazing
property at Stanthorpe since 1932, fell from riches to rags after the
gloss was burned from his many golden guitar awards in Tamworth.
The singer was almost signed by a major U.S record label after his national
hit with James Reyne on the Dingoes classic Way Out West but he
changed musical direction to a more rootsy sound.
Now, after three years touring Europe in a Kombi van and the U.S. on Greyhound
buses he has hit the road again here.
"This is the first time in more than four years that Lydia and I
have been seriously wondering how we can pay the bills," Blundell
added, "we had to get back to London in 1997 to sell the Kombi which
we bought for $4,000. The vendor said he would buy it back when we returned
but when we were coming to London but he had gone out of business and
no-one wanted to know where he went. We got cheap air fares to New York
but had to take a Greyhound 26 hours each way from New York to Nashville."
The trip inspired Greyhound Buses - another original tune - but
not all his new songs please fans raised on traditional tunes.
"There's been quiet a lot of knee jerk reaction from fans,"
says Blundell, "it never ceases to amaze me, because as vocal as
I've been about not being a bona fide traditional in the tram tracks country
artist. And I haven't been since the second or third record but people
still expect that. On the other hand the people who listen to the songs
say 'this makes perfect sense seeing what you have been through.'"
MORE BULL RIDING
It's a far
cry from his days as a jackeroo that ended when he was managing a cattle
station New Guinea and inspired the song Heaven's Gate.
"It was there I had an encounter with a raging bull," Blundell
"I got this bull into the yard and he just turned around and came
back. I ended up flat on my back with this hard wood gate on top of me.
The bull wound up kneeling down in the dirt on top of me. There we both
were eyeball to eyeball but his fearsome horns were unusually shaped and
saved me because he couldn't get at me through the gate."
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