There’s a line in Brandi Carlile’s song, “The Eye,” where she and her longtime band mates the Hanseroth twins sing: “Do you know the sound of a closing door?/Have you heard that sound somewhere before?”
Those lines weren’t necessarily written about equality and standing your ground, but when she utters them in three-part harmony Friday during her show at The Fillmore in the shadow of House Bill 2, those words could certainly give pause or make the hairs on your arms stand up.
With the chorus, “You can dance in a hurricane/But only if you’re standing in the eye,” “The Eye” (from her latest album “The Firewatcher’s Daughter”) seems to take on greater meaning.
“Songs that don’t apply in theory at all, I’ll be singing them and realize…so much of what all artists write about is about struggling against something, laws or oppression, personal trials and tribulations. It can get universal,” Carlile says.
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She had a similar experience with the Avett Brothers’ “Murder in the City,” which she covers on “Firewatcher’s Daughter.” When she opens for the Avetts – like she did at Madison Square Garden last month – Carlile sings it with them.
“When we were making the record, I was getting ready to have a baby and went out on the road with the boys for a couple days. I was standing on the side of the stage when they played it and I was crying so hard,” she remembers, repeating the line “Like the love that let us share our name.”
“It was so impactful for me knowing what I went through and what friends went through to fight for the right to marry. It was interesting they didn’t write it about that,” she continues. “The ability to share your name and life with somebody – I think everyone in this country is taking less for granted than before because of what LGBTQ people have had to fight for over the past couple of years.”
Carlile married her wife four years ago and the couple has a daughter. So she didn’t take the decision to play North Carolina – which she’ll do four times this summer – lightly.
“I really support the boycotts. I support Bruce Springsteen. I got to be part of the decision with the Pearl Jam camp. For LGBTQ artists in general, the need to boycott North Carolina isn’t as important as the need to congregate and facilitate a place for disenfranchised LGBTQ youth to come together and protest the law,” she says. “It’s different for people who are heterosexual artists. When big heterosexual male artists make the statement they made, it speaks to even those who don’t agree with them.”
“The Firewatcher’s Daughter” is tied to Carlile’s marriage and finds her and Phil and Tim Hanseroth rocking and singing spiritual harmonies like never before. Carlile wasn’t sure she could write an album from such a happy place.
“We were just getting ready to have a baby. A lot of great things happened right there. Tim’s son was learning to walk and baby Joe was in the studio. That was the question I was asking myself at the time,” she says. “Tim – who’d gotten married and had his little boy six months prior – was telling me not to worry about it. You do everything better when you’re happy, and that includes writing sad songs.”
When: 8 p.m. Friday.
Where: The Fillmore, 820 Hamilton St.
Details: 704-916-8970; www.livenation.com.