How could we analyse James Blunt's song "No Bravery?" What might be the themes and song-writing techniques used in it?

Expert Answers
ladyvols1 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

A supporter of Doctors Without Borders/MSF, Blunt witnessed the organization's life-saving work while stationed with the British army in Kosovo. He served as a reconnaissance officer with NATO.  "No Bravery," was written in response to the genocide he witnessed while in Kosovo.” He was compelled to write this song to make people remember the horror of war and the devastation of a culture.“There are children standing here Arms outstretched into the sky
Tears drying on their face He has been here
Brothers lie in shallow graves Fathers lost without a trace
A nation blind to their disgrace. Since he's been here.
And I see no bravery,No bravery in your eyes anymore.
Only sadness.”
To analyze the lyrics ask yourself who “are the children standing here?”  Obviously they are the children who have survived the ethnic cleansing of the area.  The ones whose tears are drying because of the grief they have suffered.  “He has been here.”  Who or what is “He?”  He is evil, devastation, political systems that allow ethnic cleansing. “I see no bravery, No bravery in your eyes anymore.  Only sadness.”  Soldiers start war’s with a go get them attitude.  They are proud and ready to fight.  By the end of the war they are sad, guilt-ridden, and horrified at what one human being can do to another.  The theme is the savage nature of war.  His method of writing is typical of many songs with a rhyming pattern. 

accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

It is clear that this song is designed to evoke the horrors of war by shocking the listeners into imagining the pictures he sings about. Note too how the lyrics cut through popular impressions of war and soldiers - there is now "no bravery", only "sadness". Apparently the war has been so horrific that there is no room for thoughts of bravery or considerations of honour - only sadness is the repeated refrain, emphasising the terror of war and the human cost. The message seems to be let us learn from this horrendous chapter of human's history and let us not repeat it.

ascaves | Student

I think the previous answers are doing your work too much for you.  I would suggest a structural approach.

Consider the writer of the song:  who is he?  What is background of the songwriter?  How did he have the experiences he sings about in the song?

Consider the context of the song:  the time period, the event depicted, when it was released.

What are themes?  If he is singing about war, what images does he use?

What are his language choices?  Does he use repetition or sound qualities like assonance, consonance, alliteration, or rhyming?

Listen to the song and take notes on what parts you think are important.  Do you own analysis and reading of the song's meanings instead of relying on others to give you the answers.  My suggestions ask you to focus on the song and determine for yourself the meanings.