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The Love That Lets Us Share Our Name

A week ago Sunday I was reading The New York Times and all of a sudden I see a review regarding Brandi Carlile’s new memoir Broken Horses. I immediately was drawn to it. I admit I have been a big fan of Brandi Carlile (BC) ever since I heard her first major record, The Story, many years ago. I even include BC as one of my five island girls in a stupid, fantasy, drinking game a few of us made up during a golf trip in Florida. One of the guys on the trip was my friend Chris Murphy who happened to send me an interview regarding BC last week, and I told him I already ordered the book and couldn’t wait to read it. I did tell him that I like her more these days after learning more about her and following her career.

I am encouraging any music fan to pick up a copy of this book. It will not disappoint. You get a full unedited version of her life, in her own words, hitting on every dysfunctional aspect of her childhood, her religion, and her sexuality. BC had two major lifequakes in her youth that had a tremendous impact on her life. At the age of five, she almost died from contracting bacterial meningitis, and then many years later she was publicly rebuked by her pastor on the day of her baptism because of her sexuality. Despite these dramatic events, she maintained a resolve and determination to make the most out of her life from her love of music. We get to share that journey with her, chapter by chapter, as she honestly shares about her split personality, and brilliant songwriting and letter writing skills, along with a very strong empathy for anyone suffering from ugly wars and despicable human treatment.

As you probably know by now, I love stories of triumph from tough circumstances regarding good people who fight and do whatever it takes to find meaning and success in their lives. I am so thrilled that BC decided to write her memoir at the age of 39 so anyone interested can really understand what she was thinking and dealing with on her trip down the yellow brick road to the Emerald City, which I’ll call the 61st Grammy Awards where she and the Hanseroth twins won three Grammys.

I love her acceptance speech for one of her awards: “Americana music is the island of misfit toys. I am such a misfit. It is this music that has shaped my life and made me who I am and even given me my family, Tim and Phil. I came out of the closet at 15 years old when I was in high school and I can assure you that I was never invited to any parties, and never got to attend a dance. To be embraced by this enduring and loving community has been the dance of a lifetime. Thank you for being my island.”

One of my favorite BC stories depicted in the book is the inspiration and incredible effort by BC and her wife Catherine Shepherd to create and produce a charity tribute album called Cover Stories to support and benefit the organization War Child UK. Their empathy for children suffering from harsh and ugly wars led to the album, creatively produced with the help of many musical friends and heroes singing songs from BC’s 2007 album The Story. Adele, Dolly Parton, Kris Kristofferson, The Avett Brothers, and Pearl Jam, are among the artists featured and do a tremendous job. It is a real gem.

Even though my favorite BC song remains The Story, for anyone just discovering BC, I thought I would provide a link to her magical performance of “The Joke” at the 61st Grammy Award Show. It is one strong performance and to find out she almost didn’t make it because of her continuous throat problems (you’ll have to read the book) make it very special. Enjoy!

Brandi Carlile's Memoir: Broken Horses


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