Carlile is notably alone for the acoustic performance and stands center stage in the spotlight sans a backing band. The song presents itself as a sort of beacon for people who feel they don’t fit in. In the first verse, Carlile boldly charges, “Don’t ever let them steal your joy/And your gentle ways, to keep ‘em from running wild …”
Carlile’s performance on “Ellen” was much softer than her Grammys delivery, but her empowering message is no less emphatic. There’s a captivating vulnerability in her solo performance and it’s easy to see why the anthemic track has received such widespread critical acclaim.
“The Joke” is notably the lead single from Carlile’s sixth studio album, By the Way, I Forgive You. She performed it to thunderous applause at the 61st Annual Grammy Awards a few days prior to her guest spot on “Ellen.”
Following her acoustic talk show performance, the legendary Emmy-winning talk show host commended Carlile for her emotional Grammy acceptance speech. In it, the Washington native singer-songwriter admitted coming out when she was 15 and in high school.
“It's a brave thing to do,” Ellen said. "Most people that are performing, they worry about their career, so it’s a brave thing for you to be open and out.”
Carlile told Ellen, “I basically just outlined that I came out of the closet when I was 14 years old … because of you …” She also branded herself “a misfit” during her heartfelt Grammys speech because she was never invited to a dance while she was in school and now, she’s enjoying “the dance of a lifetime” in being embraced by the loving community of her musical peers.
Carlile notably won Grammy Awards for Best American Roots Performance and Best American Roots Song for “The Joke,” as well as Best Americana Album for By the Way, I Forgive You. The wins mark Carlile’s first out of a career total of seven Grammy nominations. Watch her stunning performance of “The Joke” on “Ellen” above.
For more information about watching Brandi Carlile perform live, visit her artist page at AXS.