Brandi Carlile’s story

Broken Horses by Brandi Carlile

3 words: candid, reflective, engaging

“All of these lines across my face 
Tell you the story of who I am
So many stories of where I’ve been
And how I got to where I am…”

—Brandi Carlile, The Story

Brandi Carlile keeps surprising me with her awesomeness. 

The first surprise: discovery of her existence 

Old friends at Old Crow Medicine Show / Brandi Carlile concert -- So Good!

A friend and I went to see Old Crow Medicine Show at a wicked cool outdoor music venue, cuz we both like some fine Americana music. And Brandi Carlile opened for them. My friend, who’s way more musically knowledgeable than I’ll ever be, knew who she was, but I didn’t. But about 30 second into her first song, I was like, “OMG, that voice.” I love strong, husky, vulnerable voices, and wow does she ever have one. 

The second surprise: the book 

When I saw that Brandi Carlile had written a memoir, I placed a hold right away. I know she’s got some serious songwriting skills, and I couldn’t wait to read her prose. And I was interested to read her personal story, which turned out to be way more fascinating, stirring, and inspiring than I’d expected. 

For example, who knew she’d been a country music prodigy who performed with her family when she was a wee young one? And who knew she had a hardscrabble early life? And of her heartbreak at being rejected by her church because she’s gay? (That seriously broke my heart.)

Carlile’s strength of spirit and honesty are present on every page. She’s frank and bighearted, and she tells her story in a way that is beautiful. I love memoirs of the creative life — authors, artists, musicians — because their stories so often are tales of overcoming the odds to pursue a dream.

The third surprise: more of her music 

While reading her memoir, I kept YouTubing the songs she mentioned. And each chapter ends with the lyrics of a song or two, which of course a person wants to hear. So I dove into her music as never before, and now three of her songs play on my inner jukebox on regular shuffle. And any day I’ve got Brandi as my interior soundtrack is a strong and gentle and thoughtful one.

I’ll leave you with one…

Are you a fan of musician memoirs? Or other stories of the creative life? Recommendations, please!

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