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Broken Horses: A Memoir by Brandi Carlile
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Broken Horses: A Memoir (edition 2022)

by Brandi Carlile (Author)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
3251280,598 (4.24)9
Biography & Autobiography. Music. Nonfiction. HTML:#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • The critically acclaimed singer-songwriter, producer, and six-time Grammy winner opens up about a life shaped by music in this candid, heartfelt, and intimate story.
“One of the great memoirs of our time . . . a gift from Brandi’s soul.”—Glennon Doyle • “Brandi’s story is about perseverance, humor, forgiveness, and manifestation. I absolutely loved it.”—Elton John • “Broken Horses led me right into Brandi’s heart, and my own.”—Brené Brown
Brandi Carlile was born into a musically gifted, impoverished family on the outskirts of Seattle and grew up in a constant state of change, moving from house to house, trailer to trailer, fourteen times in as many years. Though imperfect in every way, her dysfunctional childhood was as beautiful as it was strange, and as nurturing as it was difficult. At the age of five, Brandi contracted bacterial meningitis, which almost took her life, leaving an indelible mark on her formative years and altering her journey into young adulthood.
As an openly gay teenager, Brandi grappled with the tension between her sexuality and her faith when her pastor publicly refused to baptize her on the day of the ceremony. Shockingly, her small town rallied around Brandi in support and set her on a path to salvation where the rest of the misfits and rejects find it: through twisted, joyful, weird, and wonderful music.
 
In Broken Horses, Brandi Carlile takes readers through the events of her life that shaped her very raw art—from her start at a local singing competition where she performed Elton John’s “Honky Cat” in a bedazzled white polyester suit, to her first break opening for Dave Matthews Band, to many sleepless tours over fifteen years and six studio albums, all while raising two children with her wife, Catherine Shepherd. This hard-won success led her to collaborations with personal heroes like Elton John, Dolly Parton, Mavis Staples, Pearl Jam, Tanya Tucker, and Joni Mitchell, as well as her peers in the supergroup The Highwomen, and ultimately to the Grammy stage, where she converted millions of viewers into instant fans.
Evocative and piercingly honest, Broken Horses is at once an examination of faith through the eyes of a person rejected by the church’s basic tenets and a meditation on the moments and lyrics that have shaped the life of a creative mind, a brilliant artist, and a genuine empath on a mission to give back.
Carlile recorded new stripped-down, solo renditions of more than 30 of the songs featured in the book, including her own and songs from artists who’ve inspired her, from Dolly Parton to Elton John, Leonard Cohen and more, available exclusively on the audiobook:
 
“I Don’t Hurt Anymore” by Hank Snow
“Coat of Many Colors” by Dolly Parton
“Ride on Out” by Brandi Carlile
“Honky Cat” by Elton John and Bernie Taupin
“Philadelphia” by Neil Young
“Happy” by Brandi Carlile
“That Year” by Brandi Carlile
“Hallelujah” by Leonard Cohen
“Eye of the Needle” by Brandi Carlile
“Turpentine” by Brandi Carlile
“Wasted” by Brandi Carlile
“The Story” by Brandi Carlile
“Closer to You” by Brandi Carlile
“Caroline” by Brandi Carlile
“Josephine” by Brandi Carlile
“Sugartooth” by Brandi Carlile
“Looking Out” by Brandi...
… (more)
Member:Mishiruffy
Title:Broken Horses: A Memoir
Authors:Brandi Carlile (Author)
Info:Crown (2022), 352 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:
Tags:to-read

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Broken Horses: A Memoir by Brandi Carlile

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Full disclosure: I have been a Brandi Carlile fan for a number of years, kicked up a notch in the last few years by the group's "By The Way, I Forgive You" album; the album from her side project with Amanda Shires, Natalie Hemby, and Maren Morris: The Highwomen; her stunning performance of her incredible song, The Joke, on the Grammy Awards in 2019; and her oh-so-welcome musical performances shared via Facebook during the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic. In other words, I already had a favorable bias toward this memoir. But I did not know all that much about Ms. Carlile personally other than that she and her wife, Catherine, have two young daughters.

This memoir painted a fresh and honest and even somewhat dorky (like me!!!) portrait of the artist as a still-to-me young musician: at once surprising and full of the expected moments in the trajectory of a star of Ms. Carlile's caliber--her unabashed thrill when she performed on stage the first time as a child in her native Washington (state); her experimentation with different genres outside the Western Grand Old Opry setting in which she first cut her musical chops; the years of scrimping and cobbling together equipment and resources to continue to put herself in front of a live audience; issues with drinking and drugs (although in the latter case, it was a combination of steroids for her damaged voice and Xanax to help her sleep in the wake of the effect of the steroids). But she also had other obstacles to overcome: being gay in a Baptist family; being gay in a largely anti-gay musical genre; being a woman in a decidedly male-centric musical genre; and her own self-doubt. On the other hand, she boldly contacted and approached music industry people and other celebrities--Elton John, Joni Mitchell, Barack Obama, to name a few--some of whom became friends and mentors; and she has been extremely generous with others, including Tanya Tucker, whose comeback album she produced and which earned Ms. Tucker her first Grammy--when she was in her sixties.

This memoir is also partly a love story written by Ms. Carlile to those people who make up her family--blood or otherwise: her parents, brother, sister; grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins; her wife and daughters; and her band mates, twins Phil and Tim Hanseroth, and their wives and children, all of whom live on a large tract of land owned by Ms. Carlile that contains the cabin she herself built about twenty years ago. And probably the most surprising aspect of the story of Brandi Carlile is her deep spirituality in the face of a Baptist community--and especially its pastor--who rejected her in a crushing way during her teenage years. In fact, in the title track of her Grammy winning "By the Way, I Forgive You," she publicly forgave the pastor who humiliated her. I think Ms. Carlile herself would be probably be equally thrilled and embarrassed by this comment: If you are looking for examples of grace in this world, look no further than Ms. Carlile's memoir. ( )
  bschweiger | Feb 4, 2024 |
Never have I ever listened to Brandi Carlile, so I’m not totally sure why I preordered an audio copy of her book from the library, but I did and I am so glad. It was read by the author and the text was supplemented by music between each chapter, as well as bonus tracks at the end. Super good. ( )
  littlezen | Jan 24, 2024 |
I had marked Brandi Carlile’s memoir to read and reserved it at the library but all reviews suggested the audiobook was superior. After each chapter Brandi delivers stripped down versions of both her songs and songs of artists who have influenced her. The whole thing was superb. Definitely worth more than 5 stars. If you haven’t heard Brandi Carlile or about her life, invest in this audiobook- I’ll be surprised if you’re not won over. ( )
  secondhandrose | Oct 31, 2023 |
I’m a mega fan of Brandi Carlile. I couldn’t get my hands on this book fast enough and pretty much devoured it. I’ve been knocked out by her voice numerous times and now I’ve been knocked out by her storytelling. What a life she has had thus far... and I’m certain there will be so much more to come. She’s an inspiration not just in music but in life. Love her! ( )
  Andy5185 | Jul 9, 2023 |
Any doubts about a memoir written by someone who hadn’t turned forty were dispelled in the twenty hours that Brandi Carlile’s warm, engaging voice infiltrated my ears with her story.
An aging boomer who these days listens to more chamber music than rock, I was late to the party when it came to this singer. I try to keep up by watching Later with Jools Holland. During the lockdown, he experimented with non-live formats. One was a series of Zooms with a musician who selected videos of old Later performances. One week’s guest was Elton John, one of whose picks was a very young Brandi Carlile singing “The Story.” Why have I never heard this, was my enthused reaction. I quickly tried to catch up, egged on by a favorite niece who is a fan.
This book is another product of the lockdown. Rona came to town just as Carlile was about to launch to superstardom: those roughly two years at the top of the pyramid when everyone knows your name and “there’s no time to think” (as Dylan sang). Think Beatles 1964-65, Joni Mitchell 1971-72, Paul Simon, Stevie Wonder, Elton John—the list goes on.
Well, Carlile was on the cusp of that mixed blessing/curse. She was on a roll: five Grammys, the live recreation of Mitchell’s Blue, her curated all-female Saturday evening, main stage Newport show, “Eagle When She Flies.” Then instead of taking to the stratosphere, her eagle was grounded.
Like many musicians, she adapted, finding a way to connect with her audience via the internet with living room concerts, deciding to worry about an income stream later.
And she finished this book. As it turned out, the arc was perfect. The rags-to-riches, threshold-of-superstardom success story is the penultimate chapter. The final chapter is back on the ground, digging a drainage ditch for her cabin.
A highlight of this audiobook is that Carlile ends each chapter with one or two unplugged songs. Then, a bonus chapter at the end reprises them. Hearing them a second time, with the whole story in mind, they cohere and reveal more profound meaning.
Audio won’t replace print as my prime way to consume books, but in this case, audio was like a luxury upgrade. ( )
1 vote HenrySt123 | Apr 4, 2023 |
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Dedication
I’d like to dedicate this book to my family:

The Carliles for our sacred bond and struggle.

Its incarnation that is my very own family—my Catherine, and our girls, Evangeline and Elijah.

Most of all the family of fellow misfits on the island of the misfit toys. Anyone who’s been rejected by this realm and its interpretation of your faith, but never by your Creator. To the repulsed, rejected, reformed, reaffirmed, the redeemed.

Your immeasurable worth precedes you.
First words
The Carliles are nail-biters. I started biting my nails at three years old. Everyone told me that if I didn't keep my hands out of my mouth, I'd get sick.
I contracted meningococcal meningitis at age four.
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Biography & Autobiography. Music. Nonfiction. HTML:#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • The critically acclaimed singer-songwriter, producer, and six-time Grammy winner opens up about a life shaped by music in this candid, heartfelt, and intimate story.
“One of the great memoirs of our time . . . a gift from Brandi’s soul.”—Glennon Doyle • “Brandi’s story is about perseverance, humor, forgiveness, and manifestation. I absolutely loved it.”—Elton John • “Broken Horses led me right into Brandi’s heart, and my own.”—Brené Brown
Brandi Carlile was born into a musically gifted, impoverished family on the outskirts of Seattle and grew up in a constant state of change, moving from house to house, trailer to trailer, fourteen times in as many years. Though imperfect in every way, her dysfunctional childhood was as beautiful as it was strange, and as nurturing as it was difficult. At the age of five, Brandi contracted bacterial meningitis, which almost took her life, leaving an indelible mark on her formative years and altering her journey into young adulthood.
As an openly gay teenager, Brandi grappled with the tension between her sexuality and her faith when her pastor publicly refused to baptize her on the day of the ceremony. Shockingly, her small town rallied around Brandi in support and set her on a path to salvation where the rest of the misfits and rejects find it: through twisted, joyful, weird, and wonderful music.
 
In Broken Horses, Brandi Carlile takes readers through the events of her life that shaped her very raw art—from her start at a local singing competition where she performed Elton John’s “Honky Cat” in a bedazzled white polyester suit, to her first break opening for Dave Matthews Band, to many sleepless tours over fifteen years and six studio albums, all while raising two children with her wife, Catherine Shepherd. This hard-won success led her to collaborations with personal heroes like Elton John, Dolly Parton, Mavis Staples, Pearl Jam, Tanya Tucker, and Joni Mitchell, as well as her peers in the supergroup The Highwomen, and ultimately to the Grammy stage, where she converted millions of viewers into instant fans.
Evocative and piercingly honest, Broken Horses is at once an examination of faith through the eyes of a person rejected by the church’s basic tenets and a meditation on the moments and lyrics that have shaped the life of a creative mind, a brilliant artist, and a genuine empath on a mission to give back.
Carlile recorded new stripped-down, solo renditions of more than 30 of the songs featured in the book, including her own and songs from artists who’ve inspired her, from Dolly Parton to Elton John, Leonard Cohen and more, available exclusively on the audiobook:
 
“I Don’t Hurt Anymore” by Hank Snow
“Coat of Many Colors” by Dolly Parton
“Ride on Out” by Brandi Carlile
“Honky Cat” by Elton John and Bernie Taupin
“Philadelphia” by Neil Young
“Happy” by Brandi Carlile
“That Year” by Brandi Carlile
“Hallelujah” by Leonard Cohen
“Eye of the Needle” by Brandi Carlile
“Turpentine” by Brandi Carlile
“Wasted” by Brandi Carlile
“The Story” by Brandi Carlile
“Closer to You” by Brandi Carlile
“Caroline” by Brandi Carlile
“Josephine” by Brandi Carlile
“Sugartooth” by Brandi Carlile
“Looking Out” by Brandi...

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