After more than 25 years in the business, country music legend James Blundell was awarded the Hall of Fame trophy at this year’s CMC Music Awards, which gave him the chance to reflect on a quarter of a century of highs and lows.
Backstage at CMC Rocks The Hunter, he spoke to our reporter, Sebastian van der Zwan, about failed relationships, his romance with Australian Idol contestant Jesse Curran and his three sons, Briar, 13, Travis, 8, and seven-month-old Fial.
How did it feel picking up the Hall of Fame Award?
It was really special looking over everything that’s happened over the last 25 years. I’ve had a quarter of a century of highs and lows, and it really gives you a perspective on accolades. More than picking up a trophy, it’s about acknowledging the people you’ve worked with and what they’ve helped you achieve.
How has the music industry changed in your time?
There used to be this stereotype where people always thought country music was check shirts, pigtails, dead dogs and broken hearts. It was a really long, hard slog to try to get people to break that perception, but times have changed. Country music is being performed and created by young people. They’re glamorous, intelligent and articulate, and they’re really good musicians and writers. It’s the most exciting genre of music around at the moment.
What’s been your toughest time as a musician?
I’ve been penniless on several occasions. At other times, I’ve been paid for things that weren’t my best work. You begin to realise it’s just a job and, over 26 years, I’d say it’s a little bit better than the average wage. I’ve been fortunate enough to travel the world and play some music.
However, I did get to the stage of finding commercial music so tedious that I bailed out of it for two years and took off in a kombi van around Europe. That was the best thing I ever did. It made me realise music and the arts are what I do.
How has fatherhood changed you as an artist?
Oh, immensely. It’s given me a whole new philosophical bank when it comes to song-writing. It’s about viewing our actions in light of how they’ll affect the next generation, which is going to have to deal with some really important global issues. We can’t keep polluting and it’ll take a lot of courage for that to stop.
I was born in the mid-sixties and our generation was the one that had to come to terms with personal relationships. We had to work out whether we perpetuate relationships, have numerous affairs and lie about them to keep the peace, or whether we own up to what’s going on and admit we’re not happy. The statistics in regards to divorces and separations for my generation, the baby boomers, are atrocious – and that’s because there was no template for that.
Speaking of personal relationships, how are things with you and your partner, Australian Idol contestant Jesse Curran?
It’s very good. That’s been a wonderful breakthrough. We’ve got our seven-month-old baby, Fian, and he’s an absolute doozy. He’s a good kid.
Do you want to make Jesse your third wife?
That’s a very interesting question. When we first got together, she said, “I want to be clear on the fact that I’m not interested in marriage and I don’t want children.” I said, “That’s fine. I’ve got kids I love and I’m a crap husband.”
But now I’m wearing her down slowly because I love being married. I don’t ever want to be a serial monogamist, but I’d like to be married to Jesse and one day she might just give in.
What do you guys do together as a family?
Me and my big boys all surf together, but I’m really bad at standing up on my board, as my eldest son likes to point out. We love being in the bush, camping, fishing, shooting and all that stuff. The only things we ever shoot are things we eat or vermin, so it’s not a bloody red-neck thing!
Tune into CMC from 12-8pm on Saturday April 21 to catch all the highlights and backstage interviews from Australia's biggest roots and county music festival, CMC Rocks The Hunter.
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