Arts & Life
Brandi Carlile in the KUOW studios on December 1, 2016.
Enlarge Icon
Brandi Carlile in the KUOW studios on December 1, 2016.
Credit: KUOW Photo/Kara McDermott

Grammy nominee Brandi Carlile's best songs, according to our in-house super fan

Northwest legend Brandi Carlile is up for six Grammy Awards on Sunday, including top honors Record of the Year and Album of the Year.

I've been following Carlile and her twin bandmates Phil and Tim Hanseroth around since her first album. I've seen them play everywhere from The Moore to Benaroya Hall. I've crossed state lines, traveled by boat and car.

She's one of those performers that you absolutely must see live to get the full impact of her talent.

But her albums have also come along with me on many, many dirt roads and dirt trails. It's about time the Grammys jumped on board.

Below is a non-exhaustive list of my favorites to get you ready for the awards show. We've also created a Spotify playlist for you to immerse yourself in.


"Follow" (Brandi Carlile, 2006)

The first song off her first studio album, a lovely understated beginning.


"Turpentine" (The Story, 2007)

This is one of the reasons you have to see Carlile live. She takes this song and teaches the audience to do a three-part harmony with her. I've been trying to change up my seat locations so that I can learn all the parts. So for this I have to recommend the version from Live at Benaroya Hall with the Seattle Symphony.

"Have You Ever" (The Story, 2007)

Northwest hikers, this is your anthem.


"The Story" (The Story, 2007)

This is the big one. The ballad before the encore with the tumultuous swell. The rendition by Dolly Parton is my favorite on Cover Stories, a remake of Carlile's album The Story by different artists for charity.

"Hallelujah" (Live from Benaroya, 2011)

Okay, I know. There's approximately 10,000 versions of this song. But trust me, you have to hear this one (and Jeff Buckley's).


"Hard Way Home" (Bear Creek, 2012)

My favorite version of this song is actually the live one she did with KEXP. I spent a summer driving around this half of the country, wandering alone in the wildnerness and I thought, more than once, "Yeah! What if I did 'fake my death and never be found?'"

"Keep Your Heart Young" (Bear Creek, 2012)

This will always remind me of my sister. We were together at a concert when she played this before it was released on an album. Have a tissue and some nostalgia ready.


"Raise Hell" (Bear Creek, 2012)

This was Carlile's response to turning 30, but it's my response to every day life.


"The Eye" (The Firewatcher's Daughter, 2015)

A trademark of a Carlile concert is when they go completely power-free for a song — no microphones, no amps. This recording is reminiscent of those moments.


"The Joke" (By The Way, I Forgive You, 2018)

This is up for Record of the Year and Song of the Year at the Grammys, richly deserved.


"Fulton County Jane Doe" (By The Way, I Forgive You, 2018)

This one haunts me. The song is a jaunty song you want to turn up and sing along to, but the subject matter is so tragic: a real woman found dead who could never be identified. What's the word when something makes you feel both buoyant and depressed at the same time?

Honorable mentions

(Because my editor made me pare down the list)

  • "Someday Never Comes" (Brandi Carlile, 2006)
  • "Dying Day" (Give Up the Ghost, 2009)
  • "Alibi" (The Firewatcher's Daughter, 2015)
  • "The Mother" (By The Way, I Forgive You, 2018)
  • All of them