This lovely song is by Stevie's good friend Vanessa Carlton. It's about taking advantage of one's time on this earth to live life to the fullest and love with all one's heart. I'm going to let Stevie do the talking, though, below with regard to what this song means to her.
Stevie states in her audio commentary:
"Vanessa Carlton has been coming to my house for Christmas for years. I don't know why that she chose the Nicks family to spend her Christmases with, but she did. And so she's kind of been adopted by my whole family, and my mother really thought that she was great. In December 2011, I went home on the 17th of December, and my mom was in the hospital. On the 23rd, Vanessa came. So everything was a little different because Mom was in the hospital. And we kind of went through the 24th, and then the 25th... I got a phone call from my brother on the morning of the 27th. And he said, 'Stevie, I know I'm not really what you'd call a really spiritual guy, but I think I just had a visitation from our dad, and he said, 'Son, go get your mother from the hospital and bring her home.' And I said, 'I believe that.' I said, 'So let's go get her.'
"So, on our way down there - it was me and my assistant Karen in the front seat, and Vanessa was in the back seat - I said to her,'You know, unfortunately or fortunately for you, Vanessa, whichever way you may want to look at it, 'Carousel' has kind of become my mom's song because she really loved it, and because there's this whole thing about 'it's in the music /and beauty stands before you / and love comes back around again / it's a carousel my friend.' And my mom really, really liked this song. And so Vanessa started to sing it in the backseat by herself in her beautiful tiny little voice. And she sang the whole song. And when we drove into the hospital, it was like the very last of the song that says 'white rabbit's on the run' - and we drove right up to the front of the hospital.
"And we got her, we got Mom, and they put her in the ambulance. Me and Karen and Vanessa went back in our car and the ambulance beat us there to Mom's house, and she was already in her green chair when we got there. And how in the world that happened - we could never figure it out to this day, but she was there, and it was as if she was sleeping. And my cousin came into the kitchen and said, 'You have to come in now. It's happening.'
"And I came in and I jumped up on the green chair next to my mom's green chair that used to be my mom and dad's chairs. And I jumped up on the armrests of the two and got her hands. And I was looking right over at a picture of my dad, a big 8x10, so handsome, my father. I felt like I was looking into my dad's eyes, and I felt like he came down on a great dark horse and just took her and rode off with her.
"And the strangest little thing happened with my crazy little dog Sulamith, who my mom bought for me. She wouldn't get up on my mom's knees or up on her lap the whole time that whole evening, but about five minutes after my mom died, Sulamith jumped up on the chair, jumped over me, and onto my mom's knees, and sat there for two and a half hours like a sentry. And Vanessa tip-toed around and took a snapshot of Sulamith. And it's in the record. And it's so amazing, this picture of Sulamith, because she is absolutely guarding her grandmother. It's so important to me that she took that picture.
"She sat there in the room while my mom died. And she's the only person in that room that did not have to be there. All the rest of us, all my relatives, everybody had to be there - Jessie, my niece - they all had to be there because this was the matriarch of our family. The only person that did not have to be there was Vanessa, but she stayed by my side.
"So I thought it was important to record this song for her, for her relationship with her mom, for everybody in that room's relationship with their mother, to understand that things are taken away from you very fast and there's nothing you can do, and you should really take advantage of people while they're here because so quickly they can be gone.... and friendship and what friendship means, what real love and real friendship means.
"My niece Jessie has a beautiful voice - she's 22 - and I wanted her to sing on this song too so that it would be Barbara's friend Vanessa, Barbara's daughter Stevie, and Barbara's granddaughter Jessie, so it would be the three of us, the three girls. And I thought that Jessie did an amazing job singing on it. Waddy helped her with an amazing part to sing, so it's really like a little Crosby, Stills, and Nash song, the way that we three girls did it.
"And so when her song says, 'It's in the music' - my mom used to say, 'It's in your music. Whenever something goes wrong, remember, it's in the music. That's why you write those songs.' So I thought it was really important for that to be on this record even though all the rest of the songs were all scattered from somewhere between 1969 and 1987, and two in '95 and '94, I still thought it was very important to put this in."