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Brandi Harnesses Her Inner Mustang In “Broken Horses”

By Syd Miller, Contributing Writer

Brandi Carlile has told many stories over the course of her career. Her breakthrough album The Story is full of beautiful and touching tales. Broken Horses, Carlile’s memoir, is no exception. 

Not only is the memoir a fantastically crafted collection of memories, it’s also illustrated with personal photos and other tidbits, such as lyrics from her songs and songs that have inspired her, from Elton John to the Indigo Girls.

The book chronicles Carlile’s journey in a candid, heartfelt and intimate manner, from her first few performances with her family in bars across Washington state to her first break opening for the Dave Matthews Band.


A Honky-Tonk of Our Own

The memoir is full of frank reality. As Carlile says, her “dysfunctional childhood was as beautiful as it was strange, as nurturing as it was difficult.” We learn about Carlile’s childhood illness of bacterial meningitis, her fourteen houses and trailers she called home during her childhood, and the tension of being an openly gay teenager who her pastor refused to baptize. 

But we also get to see the joyous parts of Carlile’s life. We get to see her blossoming relationship with her wife, Catherine, who she met through her work with the Looking Out Foundation, a nonprofit that focuses on empowering children in all types of adverse situations. She talks about her daughters, Evangeline and Elijah, her experience sitting through award presentations, and her collaborations with personal heroes like Elton John, Dolly Parton, and Tanya Tucker.

If you’ve ever listened to Brandi Carlile’s songs and felt like you connected with her in some way, you should read “Broken Horses.” It’s just as moving as her song catalogue but even more personal and inviting.