Fans of Paul Simon may have heard of Edie Brickell. If you haven’t, she was best known for her 1988 album Shooting Rubberbands at the Stars as Edie Brickell & New Bohemians. Born on March 10, 1966, near Dallas, Texas, Brickell’s schooling included Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts and Southern Methodist University. It would be during this time frame she ventured into a songwriting career.
Who I Am
The road to Edie Brickell & New Bohemians began in 1985 after she was invited as a lead singer for a local music group. The niche was folk rock as she and her high school buddies performed as a group that would ultimately lead them to a recording contract with the label, Geffen Records. The first of the albums released was 1988’s Shooting Rubberbands at the Stars. It became, and remains, the most successful album in Brickell’s career as a recording artist.
Although considered a one-hit wonder by many, there is more to Brickell than meets the eye. After the success of the pop-oriented debut, she and her group deliberately steered their musical direction that served as a better reflection of who they are as musical artists. 1990’s Ghost of a Dog featured recordings that highlighted Brickell’s eclectic folksy style. After Ghost of a Dog, Brickell and her bandmates released Stranger Things in 2006. In 2018, it was Rocket, then 2021’s Hunter and the Dog Star. In between the recordings from 1990 to 2021, Brickell and her group trekked their own paths according to their specific interests.
Observed in Rocket was a less structured recording that didn’t take long for Brickell and her bandmates to do. Instead of narrowing the design of the album to a specific genre, it was simply about putting together musical material that worked as a free-form artistic expression.
This Is Me
Aside from performing with New Bohemians, Edie Brickell followed her own path as a solo artist. In 1989, she was the folk singer featured in the Tom Cruise movie, Born on the Fourth of July. Her version of “A Hard Rain’s a-Gonna Fall” was one of the songs featured in the soundtrack. After this, it was Lou Reed’s “Walk on the Wild Side” for the 1990 multi-star film Flashback. Then in 2011, she wrote “the Meaning of Life” as the main song for the movie, Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life.
In addition to soundtrack recordings, Brickell released solo albums, starting with 1994’s Picture Perfect Morning. It was then 2003’s Volcano. Aside from these projects, she also spent 1992 working in New York City and Toronto, Ontario, on a collection of songs with Ron Sexsmith and Bob Wiseman. Unfortunately, the songs were not accepted by the recording label they were associated with at the time and have yet to be released.
In 2010, Edie Brickell formed a new band, The Gaddabouts. With Andy Fairweather Low and Pino Palladino on guitars, and Steve Gadd on drums, Brickell assumed the role of lead vocalist. Together, there were two albums that were recorded and released. 2011’s The Gaddabouts was followed up by 2012’s Look Out Now!
After this, she collaborated with Steve Martin on the album Love Has Come for You in 2013. That year she toured with him across North America, along with the Steep Canyon Rangers. Together, there was also the live album, LIVE: Steve Martin and Steep Canyon Rangers featuring Edie Brickell. This was followed by 2015’s collaborated album between Brickell and Martin, So Familiar. Two years after this, the two were featured in the documentary The American Epic Sessions which had “The Coo Coo Bird” recorded on a system that was used in the 1920s.
In 2016, an altered version of the duets “Sun’s Gonna Shine” and “When You Get to Asheville” were featured in the musical, Bright Star. These songs came from Love Has Come for You as sources of inspiration behind a story that had similar characteristics to the biblical story of baby Moses.
Life with Paul Simon
On May 30, 1992, Edie Brickell married Paul Simon after the two met in 1988 on Saturday Night Live. She was performing “What I Am” while he was standing and watching with the camera crew. For Brickell, it was a butterfly moment. Evidently, this was the case for Simon too. For him, this was his third marriage and apparently the charm. Together, they have three children and a marriage that has managed to stand the test of time despite a 2014 incident that had the two involved in a domestic dispute that landed them in court.
While the media had a frenzy on the couple, their daughter, Lulu, stepped up as she pointed out the entire matter was blown out of proportion. After the couple had their court appearance, the two attended their son’s little league baseball game. Brickell and Simon have admitted their marriage has met with roses and thorns over the course of the time they spent together. As far as they and their children are concerned, this is atypical.
Top 10 Edie Brickell Songs
#10 – Like to Get to Know You (featuring Paul Simon)
Right after Edie Brickell and Paul Simon endured their domestic dispute court appearance in 2014, the two performed and released the duet “Like to Get to Know You.” This was their musical response to what happened as they admitted in this acoustic ballad that while times do get tough they’d rather stick together and work it out. This includes getting to know each other again. What makes this song joyous is the reality that even the best couples will encounter issues as they will get on each other’s nerves from time to time.
This includes even breaking each other’s heart over something that may have been a big deal at the time but as long as the communication lines are kept open and honest, there’s nothing love can’t fix when the couple chooses to work together.
#9 – A Hard Rain’s a-Gonna Fall
Edie Brickell’s coverage of Bob Dylan’s 1962 classic “A Hard Rain’s a-Gonna Fall” was featured in the Tom Cruise film, Born on the Fourth of July. Released in 1989, Dylan’s poem sung by Brickell was a lady’s touch that gave this song an extra special meaning. The timing of Dylan’s song was performed one month prior to then-President John F. Kennedy’s public announcement of Soviet missiles discovered in the Cuban shore waters. The song was about the Cuban Missile Crisis. For Brickell, her coverage of this song was performed as part of a movie and soundtrack that looked into the VietNam War that starred Tom Cruise. The movie itself came from the 1976 autobiography of war veteran Ron Kovic.
#8 – Walk On The Wild Side
Originally recorded in 1972 by Lou Reed, “Walk on the Wild Side” was a song Edie Brickell covered for the 1990 movie, Flashback. The movie itself starred Dennis Hopper as a hero from the hippies’ era, as well as Kiefer Sutherland as a federal agent with a chip on his shoulder. Brickell’s version of this all-time classic may not have charted like his did but still earns a solid place in the hearts of fans who love the song when it’s performed by someone as gifted as her.
#7 – The Coo Coo Bird (featuring Steve Martin)
When The American Epic Sessions was released as a documentary in 2017, “The Coo Coo Bird” was a dual song performance by Edie Brickell and Steve Martin. This classic English folk song was recorded live on what was the first electric sound system that was used in the 1920s. On the movie soundtrack, Music from The American Epic Sessions, a step into yesteryear with this traditional favorite was one of the recording’s best highlights.
#6 – What Makes You Happy
Released on September 13, 2018, was “What Makes You Happy.” The album Rocket was Brickell’s fourth studio album she released with her bandmates, New Bohemians. It was the first time in twelve years they recorded since 2006’s Stranger Things. The song itself was a folksy gem but the music video associated with it added more depth to Brickell’s musical message about the formulas used to define happiness.
#5 – Superhero
Released from the album Rocket, “Superhero” was a song that had Edie Brickell & New Bohemians address the likes of Batman, Spiderman, and Superman. Although not technically released as a single like “What Makes You Happy” and “Tell Me,” “Superhero” was a standout favorite among fans and critics who felt this song was like a chugging freight train, thanks to guitarist Kenny Withrow. The song was performed as a catchy number filled with fun and actually makes a great tune to play at comic conventions and cosplay-related events.
#4 – Circle
“Circle” was the follow-up single behind the big hit, “What I Am.” On the US Billboard Hot 100, it peaked as high as number ten and it was a number thirty-two hit on the US Billboard Mainstream Rock chart. The song was about dealing with the tempestuous conditions that come with a troubled relationship.
Instead of trying to work out what appears to be a doomed relationship, the song embraced the reality that sometimes being alone is the better alternative. It also dealt with the reality that sometimes being alone isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be, either. This is especially true for introverts. For Brickell and her New Bohemians bandmates, this said a few things about them as their time together as a band was sporadic over the years. Released in 1989, “Circle” was one of three songs from Shooting Rubberbands at the Stars. After this album, it was 1990’s Ghost of a Dog, which was released sixteen years before Stranger Things.
#3 – Sing to Me Willie (featuring Willie Nelson)
“Sing to Me Willie” was a song Edie Brickell performed with her idol, Willie Nelson, as a tribute to him. In the song, she brought up what music meant to her as a fellow Texan, like Nelson. While growing up as a child, Brickell’s father was a big fan of Nelson that played a huge influence on her own musical career.
The song was released on April 29, 2020, the day of Nelson’s eighty-seventh birthday. This collaboration came about as a collaboration he had with Brickell on December 25, 2018. This came about after Brickell brought a revised version of “The Horse’s Mouth,” a recording she had with The Gaddabouts in 2012.
#2 – Good Times (featuring Barry White)
“Good Times” was recorded on Edie Brickell’s first solo album, Picture Perfect Morning. The music video belonging to this song was included on the Windows 95 Companion CD-ROM by Microsoft as one of its multimedia samples. The joy behind “Good Times” was embracing a bit of nostalgia, which included Barry White’s vocals as he collaborated with Brickell in this delightfully fun tune.
One of the main appeals behind ‘Good Times” was sensing Paul Simon’s influence on this 1994 tune. For Brickell, this was her one and only US Billboard Hot 100 hit as a solo artist. It peaked as high as number sixty after it was released. This was a song that focused on the little things in life that make it worth living.
#2 – Love Has Come for You (featuring Steve Martin)
“Love Has Come for You” was a bluegrass duet performed by Edie Brickell and Steve Martin as the title track for an album produced as a collaborated recording in 2013. It won a Grammy Award for Best American Roots Song in 2014 that was also featured as a lyrical music video on Martin’s website. The album itself sold over one hundred thousand copies as fans of bluegrass and folk had it peak as high as number one on the US Billboard Top Bluegrass Albums chart, as well as number two on the US Billboard Folk Albums chart.
“Love Has Come for You” was a phenom of a song about a mother and the love she had for her son. She raised him as a single mother, knowing his father was a married man who already had a family of his own. Despite the criticism in the woman’s life, she felt her son was a loving gift from God. As a song of appreciation, this was an inspiring number that had many women who were in a similar situation find a good reason to hold their heads up high. Sometimes, what may seem like a mistake at first turns out to be a blessing in the end.
#1 – What I Am
“What I Am” was the big single from Brickell’s debut album Shooting Rubberbands at the Stars. Released in 1988, it became a number seven hit on the US Billboard Hot 100, a number nine hit on the US Billboard Mainstream Rock Chart, and a number thirty hit on the US Billboard Adult Contemporary chart. In Canada, it became its RPM Top Singles chart number one hit. On a global scale, it was a top twenty hit among the nations of Australia, Italy, and New Zealand. In the U.K., “What I Am” peaked at number thirty.
Performed as a rusty acoustic number, Brickell’s “What I Am” was a self-descriptive song that laid out a biography of a person who was proud to be who she was. In the song, the opinions of others didn’t matter as she’d rather be her own person than live up to their expectations. As a song, this was considered an anthem for many men and women who felt the same way. It pointed out in its own way to never be ashamed to be who you are. This song was already a classic the moment it was released, a reality former Spice Girl Emma Bunton knew well enough to cover this song herself.
Feature Photo: rufus, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons
Top 10 Edie Brickell Songs article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2022
Classicrockhistory.com claims ownership of all its original content and Intellectual property under United States Copyright laws and those of all other foreign countries. No one person, business, or organization is allowed to re-publish any of our original content anywhere on the web or in print without our permission. All photos used are either public domain creative commons photos or licensed officially from Shutterstock under license with ClassicRockHistory.com. All photo credits have been placed at the end of the article. Album Cover Photos are affiliate links and the property of Amazon and are stored on the Amazon server. Any theft of our content will be met with swift legal action against the infringing websites.