June 28

Brandi Carlile Songs Within Her Genre-Busting Career

Whether she’s covering classics by all-time-great artists or singing some original Brandi Carlile songs, we can’t help but fall in love with her voice. She never fails to move our hearts and give us chills.

Born in the small town of Ravensdale, Washington, Brandi Carlile grew up making her own pleasure and amusement – this includes self-taught vocal lessons and growing attached to the classic country music her parents adored. Eventually, she started pursuing a career in music and is now a genre-busting singer-songwriter with six Grammy wins and twice as many nominations.

And we can’t deny she has one of the most compelling and soulful voices of any singer in this time and age. We could even play her songs all day long. So, with that in mind, keep on scrolling below for some of her best hits.

1. “The Story”

From: The Story (2007)

Released as the title track of her 2007 album, Carlile perhaps never anticipated the effect that “The Story” would have on the world. The song’s fame skyrocketed after its feature on ABC’s television series Grey’s Anatomy – reaching No. 35 on Billboard’s Adult Pop Songs.

A few artists have covered “The Story” in the decade since its release, and this includes LeAnn Rimes and none other than the Queen of Country herself, Dolly Parton.

2. “The Joke”

From: By the Way, I Forgive You (2018)

“The Joke” was the first track released from By the Way, I Forgive You —a country-rock song dedicated to the frail boys and struggling girls born into this troublesome time.

“The song is just for people that feel under-represented, unloved, or illegal,” the singer explained.

3. “Raise Hell”

From: Bear Creek (2012)

Carlile’s “Raise Hell” has been the crowd favorite every time she sings live. It features the singer’s unwavering country roots, with its foot-tamping rhythms, heavy banjo, and country-tinged guitar riffs that made the song among the more powerful corners of her catalog.

4. “That Wasn’t Me”

From: Bear Creek (2012)

Written by Carlile herself, “That Wasn’t Me” comes from a very personal place. The singer explained that the song is about addiction as well as the healing process and the mending it comes with.

It was inspired by the addiction and recovery of one of Carlile’s friends.

5. “Caroline”

From: Give Up The Ghost (2009)

Carlile wrote “Caroline” with her niece in mind, and the singer said she had so much to say about her that she could not fit all the words into the song. But the best part was that Elton John – one of Carlile’s musical idols – plays the piano and even sings on this track.

6. “Heart’s Content”

From: Bear Creek (2012)

Carlile sings about messed-up expectations in relationships and how even the most carefully made plans can go wrong in “Heart’s Content.” The playful ballad is filled with lively piano and splendid strings added with classical splendor and whimsy as Carlile concluded, “Love will find a way.”

7. “Hard Way Home”

From: Bear Creek (2012)

Wanting to get in touch with her country roots, Carlile recorded “Hard Way Home” as the opening track of her fourth studio album.

The singer has asked her mother – who was also a local Country and Western singer – to be with her at the studio. She said having her mother watch over her from the control room motivated her to deliver the amount of soul the song needs.

8. “The Mother”

From: By The Way, I Forgive You (2018)

In 2014, Carlile welcomed her first child into the world – a daughter named Evangeline Ruth Carlile – with her wife, Catherine Shepherd. She paid tribute to her little girl and sang about her exciting experience of motherhood in “The Mother.”

9. “Most of All”

From: By The Way, I Forgive You (2018)

While she sings about being a parent in “The Mother,” Carlile finds herself covering the topic of parenthood from the other side in “Most of All” – this time, as a daughter. 

The song is specifically about a child’s connection to their parents. It was inspired after Carlile witnessed both her parents losing their individual mothers in 2017.

10. “That Year”

From: That Year (2009)

Angry and confused over her high school friend’s decision to commit suicide when they were both sixteen, Carlile wrote “That Year” – a song that helped her come to a place of reconciliation and forgiveness.

11. “Party of One”

From: By The Way, I Forgive You (2018)

In 2012, Carlile married Catherine Shepherd. And just like every other relationship, it isn’t all wine and roses, yet the singer chooses to stay committed to her wife. That’s what this song is all about – “a song about deep and enduring compassion.”

12.  “Sugartooth”

From: By The Way, I Forgive You (2018)

This poignant song is actually a true story inspired by the childhood friend of Carlile’s brothers who had a drug addiction problem and sadly took his own life.

13. “Dreams”

From: Give Up the Ghost (2009)

It’s not often for Carlile to heed into straightforward pop, and the closest she did have to be with “Dreams.” And the best part was that the rollicking track allows us to listen to both sides of Carlile’s vocal range.

14. “Closer to You”

From: Brandi Carlile (2005)

“Closer to You” is definitely the highlight from Carlile’s debut album. It features a shuffling beat that will make you long to wander the world. So, it was no surprise when it was chosen to be part of the soundtrack of 2001’s The Sisterhood of Traveling Pants.

15. “Fulton County Jane Doe”

From: By The Way, I Forgive You (2018)

Written by Carlile’s longtime collaborator, Phil Hanseroth, “Fulton County Jane Doe” was inspired by a story in the newspaper Hanseroth once read. It reported that an unidentifiable woman was found in a field, and no one has ever claimed her. Sadly, she died without a name. 

Hanseroth, who just had a baby girl, found himself bothered with the news – so he wrote this song for his daughter.

More of Brandi Carlile Songs That Prove She’s A Living Legend

  • “The Eye”
  • “Josephine”
  • “Every Time I Forgive You”
  • “Every Time I Hear That Song”
  • “Cannonball”
  • “Carried Me With You”
  • “Looking Out”
  • “Pride and Joy”
  • “Wherever Is Your Heart”
  • “Harder to Forgive”

So, what are you waiting for – start streaming Brandi Carlile songs now!


Brandi Carlile

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