Finally getting an iPod was one thing; figuring out how to use it was something else. Fascinated by Apple’s colorful hipster style ad campaign, I couldn’t wait to figure out how to synch my new iPod to iTunes. Having dial-up internet didn’t help the process and after many failed purchase attempts, I turned to Apple’s generous free songs section more as a trial to save more wasted money on failed download than for any real interest. One of the first songs I successfully downloaded was by an artist whose name initially reminded me of “Circle in the Sand” and “Heaven on Earth” singer Belinda Carlisle from the 1980s.
Yet, instead of the pop radio friendly 80s over-dubbed sound, I became utterly taken in by the powerfully raw, soulful, and intense vocals of singer Brandi Carlile with her song “The Story.” Somehow a cross between the achingly throaty pipes of Janis Joplin and the heartbreakingly pitch-perfect twang of her idol Patsy Cline but with a little of Joni Mitchell’s folk phase thrown in for good measure, “The Story,” is one of those fiery, passionate, and intense songs that comes along once in an artist’s career. While, no doubt it will be the now twenty-three year old’s signature piece, Brandi Carlile who taught herself to sing as well as play the piano and guitar must’ve known in her bones that this would be her breakthrough as well, naming her sophomore album The Story as well.
And although I quickly proceeded to download and appreciate many of the songs in the rest of her musical catalog, it’s the haunting refrain and addictive blend of the sweet with the sour that prompted me to add “The Story” onto every single mix CD and iPod playlist I’ve made since downloading it upon its debut in April of 2007.