Writer(s): Brandi Carlile, Dave Cobb, Phil Hanseroth, Tim Hanseroth (see lyrics here)
Released: November 13, 2017
First Charted: December 9, 2017
Peak: 4 AA, 1 DF (Click for codes to singles charts.)
Sales (in millions): --
Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 15.5 video, 37.23 streaming
Click on award for more details.
About the Song:
Singer/songwriter Brandi Carlile was born in 1981 in Ravensdale, Washington. She released her self-titled debut in 2005. Her music has been described as folk rock, alternative country, and Americana. She arguably reached her peak with her sixth album, 2018’s By the Way, I Forgive You. So far, it has been her highest charting album, reaching #5 on Billboard. It was also nominated for a Grammy for Album of the Year and its lead single, “The Joke,” garnered nominations for Song and Record of the Year. It won for Best American Roots Song and Best American Roots Performance.
It grew out of a discussion with producer Dave Cobb. He said she hadn’t had another vocal moment like her song “The Story.” Cobb also played Elvis Presley’s “Amerian Trilogy,” raving about how “it affects you; the way it’s big in the chords, just pulling every single emotion out of you.” AS Cobb said, “I played her one of the greatest songs of all time, and then she wrote one of the greatest written since that one.” AS He told her, “That’s the best song you’ve ever written.” AS
Carlile said, “Who tells you to rewrite a song that you wrote a decade ago?” AS However, she accepted the challenge. She woke up one morning with the idea for the song and rushed to the studio. She wrote the song in about a half hour and recorded it with her cellist, Josh. She wrote it for the marginalized people of society “as a comment on the sociopolitical climate following the 2016 U.S. presidential election.” SF She said, “I thought about our sneering president and the way he laughed at people who were suffering.” AS She explained, “The song is just for people that feel under-represented, unloved, or illegal.” AS
American Songwriter’s Jaco Uitti called “The Joke” “one of the most beautiful tracks written this millennium.” AS The A.V. Club called it “a beacon of hope for those discouraged by today’s political climate.” WK
First posted 9/22/2022.
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