Vanessa Carlton.
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Who knew that Vanessa Carlton was a hockey fan?

The beloved pianist behind “A Thousand Miles” joined the celebration on Saturday, March 30, for Washington Capitals player John Carlson. In that night’s Caps’ game against the Boston Bruins, Carlson, 34, became the 128th defenseman in NHL history to play 1,000 regular season games. To celebrate this feat, Carlton, 43, performed her song with some Carlson-themed lyrics.

“Making his way downtown / Johnny C. / The DMV / And he’s rink-bound,” sings Carlton at the start of her ode. From there, she touches upon how Carlson helped the Caps win the Stanley Cup in 2018, part of his legacy over 14 seasons with the team.

“Brought to the Caps in the year ’08,” sings Carlton on the altered chorus. “We watched him score / We watched him skate / And you know he’ll hit / A thousand games / If we just wait for … / Tonight.”

Carlson is also the 80th player to play 1,000 games with one team in NHL history. The Capitals drafted him in 2008, and he made his debut with the team the following year. He’s played the 41st-most minutes of any player in the NHL (since the league started officially tracking time on the ice in 1997). Heading into his 1,000th game, Carlson had just under 24,000 minutes of regular-season play, with 3,005 more in the playoffs.

Calton’s “A Thousand Miles” was released in February 2002 as the lead single from her debut album, Be Not Nobody. The song reached No. 5 on the Billboard Hot 100 and spent a total of 41 weeks on the chart. Her most recent album, Love Is an Art, was released in March 2020.

In 2019, Carlton debuted on Broadway by portraying Carole King in Beautiful, the musical based on the singer-songwriter’s life.

“It’s the most exhilarating process I’ve ever been a part of. It’s terrifying and overwhelming-awesome in equal measure,” Carlton told Billboard about shifting to Broadway. “Even though I’ve been on stage since I was young, I’ve never acted on stage before.”

Vanessa Carlton Remixes A Thousand Miles to Celebrate NHL’s John Carlsons 1,000 Game Milestone
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Carlton noted there were “pretty specific similarities” between King, 82, and her, which made it easier to get into the part. “Our mothers both taught us piano and we were classically trained early on. Both of our first shows were at The Bitter End,” said Carlton. “And [former Atlantic Records cofounder and president] Ahmet Ertegun played a huge role in both of our careers.”

“There’s so much in the story that we can all relate to,” she added, “and I think she was really ahead of her time in so many beautiful ways. I love the opportunity to be able to tell her story.”

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