BThe life of Randi Carlile as said in Broken horses has a mythical quality. At the age of four, she survived near death after a meningitis-induced coma. Early in her career, she received a bottle of fine wine, a bouquet of flowers, and a phone call from her teenage idol, Elton John. Recently, as her many fans in Washington state know, she won several Grammys.
The root of it all is a drama of life on the edge. Carlile was born into a musical family. She describes her parents as “charismatic”. The house was a trailer in a wooded area on the outskirts of Seattle. The family moved often – 14 times by Carlile’s count, sometimes due to evictions or new jobs.
This book is a gift for her longtime fans and those who discover Carlile after her Grammy successes. The chapters are short and end with candid photos of the period she’s writing and the lyrics of three or four songs. As an author, she is lucid about how her humble early years founded her life, her music and her ambition. Her story speaks of devotion to family and fellow musicians.
The title reveals a different kind of devotion. She had two horses in her life, making a childhood dream come true. Both were rejections, one due to injury, the other an Arab, too small for the show circuit. For Carlile, they were not “broken”, but companions of rare peaceful moments in an always eventful life. Readers are delighted when, in the prologue, she explains the title. After days of chatting with his wife and two young daughters about the difficulty of finding a title she pleases, her daughter Evangeline reminds her mother of the story she tells of being so poor she couldn’t afford. only broken horses. “You should name your broken horse book,” she said.
Religion was an important part of Carlile’s childhood. In family tradition, her survival from meningitis was “God’s will”. Her belief was put to the test when she was prepared for baptism by Pastor Steve, a pastor she had become close to during the church’s summer camps. This was around the time of what she calls “an uncomfortable, awkward emergence” as a lesbian. She attended church for the baptism she had prepared for, but Pastor Steve refused because she was “gay.” She locked the church.
As she reflects on this incident, readers see the songwriter Carlile has become, finding favor everywhere: “Thanks to the outrage my public rejection aroused in my family” and in the small town where they lived. . “This is how the real ‘change of heart’ occurs,” she wrote, “where mercy creeps in.”
Subsequently, she became obsessed with the song “Hallelujah” – an obsession that turned “into a fantastic future life full of concert scenes and deep and meaningful relationships with friends.” It was the birth of the Brandi Carlile now known to a worldwide community of listeners. The fantasy has come true.
Carlile says her career as a performer began with an appearance on stage when she was eight or nine years old. The applause “was the nail in the coffin of any other path I could have taken in life. I never wanted to leave this scene.”
One of the salient aspects of Broken horses is the litany of artists, including producers and writers, who have become a part of Carlile’s professional life. Many of them have also entered her personal life as she brings colleagues together and holds them close, almost like family. Fans who have followed her career for years probably already know an astonishing fact about her career: Her group still includes twins Tim and Phil Hanseroth today, friends who played with her from the start, write songs and travel. with her today on her concert tour. bus.
The spouses and children of the members of the group also accompany the ride. When we learn that Brandi’s month-old daughter and his wife Catherine were on board for a recent tour, we don’t know whether to celebrate their union or to sympathize.
Carlile’s awareness of her place in the music industry today and her own self-confidence are revealed as she writes about her efforts to help other women move forward. “Live music has become more and more difficult for women,” she says. She came to this conclusion when she tried to book artists for a weekend festival of female artists. “I began to discover just how systemic the gender disparity in music is.” And that’s ALL kinds of women, she writes, LGBTQ and women of color.
In her memoirs, Carlile speaks as candidly about social issues as she does with the lyrics to her songs. Having recognized that her singing voice is strong enough, she proves by Broken horses that his writing voice is also loud enough to be heard clearly. ♦
Mindy Cameron, former editor and columnist, now lives in Sandpoint. She can be reached at [email protected]