James Blunt on his Friendship with Carrie Fisher: “She was a Close Confidant”

Not many people can say that their first friend in Hollywood was world-renowned actress Carrie Fisher, but for James Blunt, that rings true. What started as a casual conversation over dinner in England led to the offer of a lifetime and a long-lasting friendship between the two. When Blunt was an unknown artist, he lived with Fisher at her home in Los Angeles when he was recording his debut album, Back to Bedlam, which contained the hits “You’re Beautiful” and “Goodbye My Lover.

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Fisher passed away in 2016 at the age of 60. “My mom battled drug addiction and mental illness her entire life. She ultimately died of it,” Fisher’s daughter actress Billie Lourd said in a statement at the time. “She was purposefully open in all of her work about the social stigmas surrounding these diseases.”

Fisher’s death inspired “Dark Thought,” a song on Blunt’s 2023 album, Who We Used to Be. “I thought, ‘Maybe I’ll go out to the house for a moment and see if I can feel her there feel her spirit there,'” Blunt tells American Songwriter about writing “Dark Thought” after her passing. “It took me a long time to find the words because she was so important to me, and so many other people.” Below, Blunt recounts his time living with the iconic Star Wars actress and how she helped foster his music career.

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“I met her in a restaurant in Notting Hill. I had been invited along by my then-girlfriend’s parents and they knew Carrie. She was in London and they brought her along too. She and I sat beside each other and she said, ‘What do you do?’ And I said, ‘I’ve just left the army, got a record deal. I’m going to record my first album in Los Angeles.’ Her second question was, ‘Where are you going to live?’ And I said, ‘I don’t know yet, I haven’t found a house.’ And her third sentence was, ‘Well, then you’re going to live with me.’ And I did. For the first month, I didn’t really talk to her because I was leaving [for] the studio in the morning and then I’d come back late at night. I came back after a month and she’d had an episode, a kind of breakdown. She was a bipolar, manic depressive, and she was having an episode. A housekeeper and a gardener were talking about her while she was in the room because they thought she was crazy. While I was listening to her talking, I realized that what she was doing is she was just moving from A to F and skipping out the other letters in the alphabet, she was just moving really fast… And so for that moment, she grabbed my hand and she took me to her bedroom and I sat on the end of her bed and we talked till dawn about war and Hollywood, and everything in between.

In that time, she became my best friend. From that day on, when I got back home, I didn’t just go to my room, I went to her room instead and sat at the end of the bed. We watched old movies and talked about life. She scribbled away writing her stuff and I’d play her songs. She became the holder of my secrets and she knows where all the shallow graves are. She was the first person I told when I’d met my future wife. We chose engagement rings together. She was a very close confidant. She was married to Paul Simon at some stage, so she had Paul Simon’s piano there. When I didn’t have a studio with a piano in it and I went to record ‘Goodbye My Lover’ I recorded it in her bathroom. She was just an amazing person to be [around] when you’re writing songs and recording songs. It’s all about your dreams, thoughts, hopes, and she was a great person to have as part of those dreams.

She lived in this fucking madhouse with shit everywhere. Outside my room, she put a cardboard cutout of her in the [Star Wars] outfit with her bands and she’d written on it her date of birth and her date of death. There was weird stuff throughout the house and really inspiring place. It was like you’re living in a dreamland. She made being a musician in the music business exactly what you dream it to be. I had this incredible, lucky fortunate thing of I just moved to Los Angeles, lived with Carrie Fisher, recorded in a studio there. With all that vision and dream work, then of course the album’s gonna be fucking huge because I can just step out of the Army and arrive here where anything is possible and sing songs to express that anything is possible because she allowed that.”

Photo Credit: Michael Clement/Courtesy of Atlantic Records

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