By Emma Mac

We know for certain that Brandi Carlile has the authenticity and talent that can make you stop dead in your tracks. But on the new song “The Joke,” from the forthcoming album By The Way, I Forgive You (which comes out next Friday, February 16th) the force is undeniably moving.

In an interview with NPR, Carlile explained the meaning of the song:

“There are so many people feeling misrepresented [today]. So many people feeling unloved. Boys feeling marginalized and forced into these kind of awkward shapes of masculinity that they do or don’t belong in… so many men and boys are trans or disabled or shy. Little girls who got so excited for the last election, and are dealing with the fallout. The song is just for people that feel under-represented, unloved or illegal.”

The relevance established in her lyrics account for only part of the song’s magic; the emotion in her voice is absolutely heartbreaking, and as it turns out, the strings were arranged by the late, Grammy Award Winning Musician Paul Buckmaster.

Buckmaster is known for his orchestral collaborations on David Bowie’s “Space Oddity,” The Rolling Stones’ Sticky Fingers and works with Elton John, Stevie Nicks, Miles Davis, Carly Simon, and many more. By The Way, I Forgive You was one of the last projects for Buckmaster before he passed away just this past November.

Producer Dave Cobb, who is releasing the album on his Low Country Sound imprint at Elektra Records, said of Buckmaster:

“Brandi had worked with Paul before. I’d tried to imitate his work many times, so it was incredible to work with him. Normally I’m one of those people that’s kind of in everything a little bit — you know, I have things to say. But when Paul was here, I was like a schoolboy. I had nothing to say.”

A song so brimming with emotion had to have more to the story. Check out Brandi Carlile performing “The Joke” on Jimmy Kimmel below, but beware, the goosebump risk is high.

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