Brandi Carlile was a guest on Tuesday night’s episode of the Late Show With Stephen Colbert, where she performed a piece of Joni Mitchell’s classic “A Case of You” and discussed her newly released memoir Broken Horses.
For her version of Mitchell’s 1971 Blue song, Carlile picked up an acoustic guitar and sang the first verse and chorus, showcasing the power of her voice. Carlile had originally performed the song during a one-night-only concert in Los Angeles when she covered the entire Blue album, with Mitchell in the audience. She confessed to Colbert that she had to be hypnotized to even get up onstage, but something clicked when she started singing.
“I was so terrified but I lost it all,” Carlile said. “I look up and I see the whites of Joni’s teeth and she’s sitting next to and holding hands with Elton John. I was like, ‘This is what’s happened to me in my life. This is where it’s come to.’ The honor just took over the nerves and it became my greatest musical moment.”
In a separate interview, Carlile touched on her friendship with the late John Prine, who died one year ago as a result of Covid-19 on April 7th, saying it was “like being friends with a prophet who makes you laugh as well as foretelling the human future.” Carlile paid tribute to the songwriter at the 2021 Grammys, performing “I Remember Everything.”
Additionally, Colbert and Carlile dug into her memoir Broken Horses. Carlile initially didn’t set out to write a book, but the words kept flowing for her.
“I starting realizing this isn’t three and a half minutes, this is something else,” she said. “I guess it felt easy or like it was coming from a muse somewhere. It was hard after it was over to stand behind it. It’s really hard not to have all that metaphor to wrap yourself up in and hide behind.”
One of the initial things that got Carlile started writing was an attempt to tell the story of her teenage baptism and the way it has connected with her faith as an adult person. She’d been involved with the Baptist church — against her father’s wishes — and decided to get baptized, but on the day when it was supposed to take place, everything changed.
“The pastor pulled me aside and told me right before it was going to happen that he wasn’t going to do it because I’m gay,” she said. “I don’t know if it was supposed to be a shock or if he thought something was going to be denounced or that there was going to be some kind of repentance moment. It turned into this movie of me running out of the church in front of everybody I loved and being really humiliated.
“But I don’t think I ever really felt accepted by any of those people until that moment, so really beautiful things came from that trauma,” she continued. “I’ve been able to hold onto and maintain my faith in spite of and maybe because of that day.”