LISTEN: Brandi Carlile, Elton John Reflect on the ‘Simple Things’

Country

Brandi Carlile joins Elton John to celebrate the “Simple Things” in a new collaboration. The song features the two in jubilant, knowledge-dispensing harmony over a jaunty, piano-driven melody.

“Simple things / Hard to learn / Fire’s hot / Burn, burn, burn,” goes the song’s chorus. Simple truths / Hard to see / Not what you want, but what you need.”

John co-wrote “Simple Things,” produced by Andrew Watt, with Roman Campolo and Andrew Wotman. Carlile’s bandmates, twins Phil and Tim Hanseroth, as well as Derek Trucks play on the song, too.

Carlile is a longtime admirer — and, now, a friend — of John’s. In her recent memoir, Broken Horses, Carlile recalls John’s impact on her, as both a personality and an artist, growing up, including when she, at the age of 12, dressed up in a John-inspired outfit, made by her mother, to perform “Honky Cat” during a talent show.

Carlile occasionally covers John’s songs, and the two worked together during a session for her third studio album, 2009’s Give Up the Ghost. In 2019, Carlile took part in a John-inspired photo shoot for Harper’s Bazaar.

“Simple Things” is one of 16 songs on John’s new album, The Lockdown Sessions, which arrived on Friday (Oct. 22). In addition to Carlile, the project includes collaborations with Jimmie Allen and Glen Campbell, as well as Miley Cyrus, Stevie Wonder and others.

“I realized there was something weirdly familiar about working like this,” John says of creating his new album. “At the start of my career, in the late ’60s, I worked as a session musician. Working with different artists during lockdown reminded me of that. I’d come full circle: I was a session musician again. And it was a blast.”

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