It really breaks my heart
To see a dear old friend
Go down in the worn old place again

Do you know the sound
Of a closing door?
Have you heard that sound somewhere before?
Do you wonder if she knows you anymore?

I wrapped your love around me like a chain
But I never was afraid that it would die

You can dance in a hurricane
But only if you’re standing in the eye.

Brandi Carlile is one of those artists who I’ve still yet to really indulge in, but have a feeling I’d really like. This song, “The Eye,” has been in my head since I found it on a Spotify playlist late last week, and I love love love it. Whether it’s representative of most of her other songs, I can’t say, but I can say I’ve never heard a song of hers that I didn’t instantly gravitate toward, and that didn’t stick in my head for days — “The Things I Regret” is equally as powerful but on the uptempo side.

She’s got a way with the hook- and in a catchy rock song, that’s the part that you need to master. Her voice is strong and supple, and her guitar parts are folksy and melodic. There’s a lot of layers here, but the pleasant kind, warm and inviting. Brandi doesn’t sugar coat, though, and tackles these issues of dealing with life and love and oneself with some kind of passionate abandon; she’s all about never giving up in the face of adversity but instead letting it make you more beautiful, more colorful somehow. And uses these powerful metaphors, about forces of love and war and the universe. Listening to “The Eye” makes me think about the tumultuous times in my life, however distant or recent in memory, and realize how I got through them by finding some sort of center, whether that center was my routine, my company or my discipline.

I was happily surprised tonight when, in going back to look for this song, I found this video with an uncut live performance with Brandi and two accompanying back-up vocalists with some sure and steady harmonies. While I thoroughly enjoyed the recorded version of this song, this video is proof: a good song is a good song is a good song, and needs little else but voices and an instrument to see it through. Purely performance. Simply stunning.

“I am a sturdy soul

And there ain’t no shame
In lying down in the bed you’ve made
Can you fight the urge to run for another day?
You might make it further if you learn to stay.

I wrapped your love around me like a chain
But I never was afraid that it would die
You can dance in a hurricane
But only if you’re standing in the eye
You can dance in a hurricane
But only if you’re standing in the eye.”

~The Eye
Brandi Carlile, The Firewatcher’s Daughter