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James Blunt: Inspired By Real Life

Not since Elvis Presley was drafted has a soldier made as big an impact on the music scene as James Blunt, the former British army officer whose hit single, "You're Beautiful," has become a mega-hit in both Britain and the United States.

His debut album, "Back to Bedlam," has sold more than 2 million copies in the United States since its October release, and more than 9 million worldwide.

Its slow-burn ballad, "You're Beautiful," recently became the first single in nearly a decade by a British artist to reach the top of the U.S. charts.

Blunt has been called the world's most sensitive rock star, and on The Early Show Tuesday, he told co-anchor Rene Syler that "You're Beautiful" is "just about a moment where I saw my ex-girlfriend. I was on the underground (subway) in London, and she was with her new man, who I didn't know existed. And in that second, she and I caught eyes and really lived a lifetime in that moment. But I didn't do anything about it."

What is it about that song that he thinks speaks to everyone?

"It was a very personal moment to me, but I think anyone has probably had that moment where they look at a stranger, somewhere in the world, and catch eyes, and wonder, if time and place had been different, what might have been," he said.

Blunt spent five years in the British military.

"I had a really amazing time," he told Syler. "I joined the army because they paid for my university tuition fees. It was a good job to have, I met some amazing people, and I went to some amazing places."

Among those he met: the Queen herself: "I worked with her as a mounted bodyguard (on horseback), and had some incredible things to do. And it was good stuff: As a songwriter, you need things to draw on."

Blunt says he's been in touch with the "ex" he wrote about in "You're Beautiful," and she's remarked to him that he looks "particularly scruffy now (as compared to when he was in the army), but she said she understood. I'm now in a different uniform."

Where does he get his songwriting inspiration? From "life's experiences," Blunt said. "It could be anything. Good times and bad. It's what life is about, is ups and down. And you only appreciate the ups because of the downs. So, there's loves and losses and friendships."

He also writes of his time in the army.

"My best friend's in there; his name is Billy; he owes me lots of money and I wasn't gonna get the money back, so I thought I'd just write a really abusive song about him and sell it around the world and destroy his reputation," Blunt joked.

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