Brandi Carlile gave voice to the marginalized with the stunning track “The Joke” off her album By the Way, I Forgive You. At Sunday’s Grammy Awards, it was Carlile’s own voice that took center stage, as she stunned the audience with an explosive rendition of the song.
Flanked by Phil Hanseroth and Tim Hanseroth — whom she refers to as “The Twins,” both in white jackets and hats — and with Shooter Jennings behind her on piano, Carlile guided the empowering anthem to its majestic climax, a cathartic cry of the lyric “the joke’s on them.” So energized was the performer that by song’s end she was uncontrollably jumping up and down, as the audience rose to give her a standing ovation.
Carlile wrote the song with the Hanseroths and Dave Cobb, who co-produced By the Way, I Forgive You with Jennings. Earlier in the day, Carlile, nominated for six Grammys, won Best Americana Album, Best American Roots Performance and Best American Roots Song.
“The Joke,” with its heavy subject matter, was representative of By the Way, I Forgive You as a whole, an album that Carlile says is the most probing of her career.
“Everything that’s happened over the past 10 years: people killing themselves, issues with our families, the twins’ divorces, all these things caught up to us. All these things that you shut down in favor of momentum and motion just found their way to the three of us at one time, so we opened the packages back up and just dealt with it,” she told Rolling Stone last year. “You can do any number of things with that, but what we chose to do is to talk about finding a way to fundamentally forgive and accept life for being fucking hard.”
The songwriter recently headlined her own curated Girls Just Wanna Weekend in Mexico, featuring performances by Maren Morris, Mavis Staples and more.