lifeblood: songs: backgrounds: cannonball

2007-03-30: singer carlile releasing the story within, the seattle times:

"the story" is only part of the carlile story. it's been a whirlwind couple of years, signing to columbia, tv appearances, touring nationally, meeting and playing with her heroes.

one tour stop was at eddie's attic, a small club in atlanta where the indigo girls launched their career. "before the show, i was talking to eddie [owens], the owner, and i said 'i'm so excited to be playing where the indigo girls started out.' he laughed and pointed to a table near the stage that had a 'reserved' sign on it."

the table was reserved for indigo girl emily saliers, who had heard carlile's music and wanted to check her out. after the show, saliers told carlile how impressed she was, and carlile had her autograph that "reserved" sign.

"i have it with me," carlile says, reaching into the back pocket of her jeans. "who would have thought that? i've been going to indigo girls since i was 15 ... "

saliers and amy ray were so impressed with 25-year-old carlile, they had her sing on "last tears," a song on the indigo girls' 2006 album, "despite our differences."

in turn, the indigo girls make a guest appearance on "the story," singing with carlile on "cannonball."


2007-04-26: brandi carlile: achingly passionate, heartbreakingly real, the carroll county times:

carlile's down-to-earth personality might stem from her upbringing. she was raised in ravensdale, wash., a rural community 30 miles from seattle with "no streetlights, one market and an auto parts store," carlile said. still, carlile reveled in her surroundings. she was self-taught on piano and, as an elton john fanatic growing up, learned on a casio keyboard from toys "r" us. and she was always a classic country fan growing up.

"there's something that draws me to that music," she said. "sometimes it's not about what you like or love. it's more about how it becomes what you are."

later, when carlile was 14, right in the thick of the height of lilith fair, she got into "girls with guitars" and learned to play the instrument. she was always a big fan of the indigo girls, who guest on the track "cannonball" on "the story." that was a dream come true for carlile, who recently also played for k.d. lang, another artist she idolized, at the south by southwest music festival in austin, texas.

"i had been playing leonard cohen's 'hallelujah' and then i heard k.d. lang sing it and i was like, 'oh, no ... you don't sing a song that k.d. lang sings,'" carlile said. "we were at the end of our set at south by southwest, launching into 'hallelujah,' and there's k. d. lang standing right there in front of me.

"it's like that dream you have when you're naked in front of your high school. i was mortified."

for the record, k.d. lang loved carlile's version. as did the crowd, who are among the many realizing the power of carlile's intricate harmonies, her vulnerable falsetto and earthy alto. carlile's tour has her on the road through may 24 and she's uncertain of future plans. but her voice is a treasure, a diamond in the rough amongst a sea of over-polished, semi-precious stones in the music world. she shouldn't be hidden.

"the future is going to happen no matter what," carlile said. "you can't obsess."


2007-06-06: brandi carlile tours with her idols, the indigo girls, the san jose mercury news:

in 2001, ray was performing in seattle in support of her "stag" album, and carlile, in the audience, was inspired to scrap her own solo act and start a band. she found simpatico sidemen in tim and phil hanseroth, twins who will back her up on her bay area dates.

at first, the new band was performing straight-ahead rock, but as time passed carlile found herself returning to country, the music she'd grown up with in a small town outside seattle.

"there was a time when i didn't want to sing country music anymore or have anything to do with country music," she says. "that was my parents' music to me, and i was over it. so i tried to get that out of my voice and out of my system."

but "it comes full circle," continues carlile, 25. "it becomes less about what you want or what you like at the time and more about what you are."

gradually, the trio settled on a sound that suits both vh1 and cmt, each of which has been playing the title track from carlile's second cd, "the story," recorded live in the studio by t bone burnett.

saliers invited carlile to sing harmony on "last tears," the country-tinged song that closes "despite our differences." carlile returned the favor, inviting the two to sing on her new album's "cannonball." ray says they intend to re-create both collaborations on tour and probably will come up with a few new ones.

the admiration carlile feels toward the indigo girls definitely is reciprocated.

"some artists i see, and i know they're just going to keep going and keep writing and keep evolving, and it's just going to keep getting better and better," ray says. "and that's how i feel with her. she's great now, but she's going to be even more great."


2007-08-14: indigo girls: new note from amy!, official indigo girls e-mail list:

it really helped to have the infusion of fresh energy. we played "last tears" and brandi's song "cannonball." we also pulled out some obscure tunes to learn, including "hope alone," "world falls," and acoustic versions of "tried to be true" and "rock and roll heaven's gate" plus my favorite - a cover of "don't think twice it's alright." there's more to come in august.

we ended july by filming a show in atlanta at one of our old faves - the roxy. three5human and brandi joined us for a marathon set of 29 songs. the show is going to be broadcast on hdnet and we're going to make a dvd to be released sometime next year.


2008-06-27: two decades later, indigo girls keep the creative fires burning, the eugene register-guard:

question: how did you connect with brandi carlile?

answer: a friend of mine who always sends me mp3s... sent me some of brandi's songs. i was like, 'oh my god, i really, really like this.' then she was playing a club in atlanta at a place that amy and i used to play a lot.

so i went to go see the show and i found out she had been a huge indigo girls fan, which i had no idea. we just became friends right away.

then in the end she sang on our record "despite our differences," and we sang on her record on a song called "cannonball." she's just a great girl and super-talented and inspiring musician...

she comes on with us for a couple of songs with the twins (tim and phil hanseroth, who write songs for carlile and started the band with her). we are having a blast.

question: she played a show here recently and the crowds went from (120 paid) people to (433 paid) between her two dates in eugene.

answer: she's on fire. people freak out over her. she's got a voice, i can't even think of another voice that can even compare to hers right now. it's like the best of a generation-type voice. it's kind of like a k.d. lang.

i hate to compare people, but it's just a very, very special voice. it's cool to be around that.


2018-09-26: brandi carlile interviews amy ray about her new solo album, holler, paste magazine:

carlile: my favorite vocal, and i think actually my favorite song, was "bondsman (evening in missouri)." was that the most vocally challenging song you did, or if not, which was?

ray: yeah, it was. i mean, i didn't have to do it a lot, but i really worked on it a lot leading up to that time. i started writing that song years ago, and i tried it in five different keys. i tried different ways of making it softer or more rock or more this or that. it was actually a song that i was trying to do for the last indigo record but everybody passed on it, and i think it was because i hadn't gotten it to the place it needed to be yet. so i just knew i didn't want to lose that song.

carlile: no, it's amazing.

ray: it's just a live recording, but it was a cathartic sort of feeling for us as a band, you know? we got to the end of it and we kind of all knew, like, "okay, that's the one," you know? and if there are little things that are out of tune, it's okay, or when we transfer it to digital if i need to pitch something because if it's just god awful then i'll do it. that kind of was my security blanket ultimately. that if it was just terrible, that everything about the performance is so good but one note-you know how it is-that rather than leave that one note in, i knew i could fix it. i would be able to move on from that and not like be burned by it and have to do it a hundred times. but i didn't end up doing that that often because i let a lot of things go, pitch wise, that maybe i would have fixed if emily was trying to sing harmony with me, you know? that kind of thing. but when it's one lead vocal and you don't have to worry about someone singing with you and frustrating them because it's not in tune...

carlile: i didn't anything that stood out to me pitch wise, at all.

ray: now, i can listen to it and be like, "okay, cool."

carlile: i heard a lot of spoken-ness and storytelling. i've been saying this since the cover stories project when you guys did "cannonball" so amazingly. it's one of my favorite songs on that record, and sometimes it is my favorite song, but where, i think that randy newman is such an amazing spoken/vocal storyteller person. sometimes you have a lot of that depth on this record where you know, you definitely did your own version of it but it makes you listen. it's not a record that you're going to put on passively at a dinner party, they're going to want to hear what you're saying.

ray: well, i mean randy newman is a genius. i wouldn't put myself in his realm, but i would definitely say, i consider one of the strong parts of the country music that i like, and the americana music i like, and folk, well and everything-it's all writers-is when they can tell a story that they're part of but they're not. it's their lens but it's maybe someone else's perspective too. i worked on that in these songs. there's a lot of stuff that's not necessarily-it's not all me. it's like, neighbors or experiences that i had but also morphed it with someone else's experience and kind of created a new experience out of it, like stories.

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