I felt like a proud distant relative when I first saw that singer-songwriter Brandi Carlile had grabbed six Grammy noms this year. Her magnum opus “The Story” has been one of my go-to shower songs ever since I first discovered it on a Ron Weasley/Hermione Granger 8tracks playlist when I was in eighth grade. (I know my roommate would like for me to point out here that the song also makes an appearance on the musical episode of Grey’s Anatomy, but I don’t want to get into that.) The song is raw feeling, Carlile’s voice pitch-perfect and powerful.
Though it was her album By the Way, I Forgive You that earned Carlile the nomination for Best Album and the whole-ass Grammy for Americana album on Sunday, I want to focus on this earlier work of hers that I have always felt has been distressingly overlooked.
As if the titular song weren’t good enough, The Story as a whole is a lovely album. And what’s even better is that in 2017, Carlile marked the 10-year anniversary of The Story by executing what, in my opinion, is truly the ambitious crossover of all time: Cover Stories: Brandi Carlile Celebrates 10 Years of The Story – An Album to Benefit War Child.
The special edition — the proceeds of which benefited a UK charity — features a few names you might recognize. Ever heard of Adele? Pearl Jam? And oh yeah, some guy named Barack Obama wrote the foreword?
The former (and sorely missed, might I add) president said in a statement “As an artist, Brandi Carlile is using her talent on behalf of the most vulnerable among us, children living in areas of conflict. She reminds us that, together, we can build for our children a more just, peaceful world,” according to Rolling Stone.
Something feels so sweet and special about such an eclectic group of performers — many of whom are clearly far better known than Carlile herself — coming together to honor this lowkey yet brilliant artist’s magnificent work through a project for good. The fact that the queen of country (and my heart and the whole world if we’re being honest) Dolly Parton covers “The Story” is fantastic, the icing on the cake.
The music on the cover album is great, with fresh takes on Carlile’s timeless songs, but what I love most about Cover Stories is that it exemplifies how perfectly people who might exist in our minds in very separate universes can all be part of one great thing.