Brandi Carlile Praises Bonnie Raitt’s ‘Ability to Speak to the Every Man’ While ‘Pushing Radical Concepts’
"Bonnie is a fantastic activist, speaker and leader. I have so much respect"

on March 6, 2023 No comments
By Brianne Tracy

This Women’s History Month, Brandi Carlile is honoring Bonnie Raitt.

Long before she was the Grammy winner the world knows today, Carlile, 41, says she stood outside of Raitt’s concert at the Puyallup Fair nearby her hometown in Washington because she “couldn’t afford to go in.”

“I listened to her lecture rednecks about the environment,” the singer recalls to PEOPLE. “I remember she was one of the first purveyors of biodiesel buses.”

Later, she says, she went to one of Raitt’s shows at the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, and she caught Raitt’s guitar pick that said “No Nukes” on it.

“I love Bonnie Raitt’s ability to speak to the every man while pushing radical — and they shouldn’t be considered radical — concepts that challenge people to think broader about one another,” she says. “I just think that Bonnie is a fantastic activist, speaker and leader. I have so much respect. She’s beyond reproach.”

In May, Raitt, 73, will perform at Carlile’s inaugural Mothership Weekend festival in Florida.

“We have a festival in Mexico called Girls Just Wanna Weekend, and we created that festival to speak to the fact that there’s a disparagement in headlining spaces for women in music festivals in the United States,” Carlile says. “That festival sells out every year the minute it goes on sale, so it’s starting to exclude people because it sells out. It’s also excluding people who have monetary restrictions because it’s in Mexico. So we wanted to do something like that stateside, not necessarily centered on women, but celebrating matriarchy.”

Like Raitt, Carlile thinks it’s important to incorporate activism into her career. At the festival, she and her wife Catherine will have an “action village” set up to spotlight LGBTQ+ rights, global maternal health and reproductive rights.

“It’s going to be really interactive,” says Catherine. “Basically, attendees are going to be able to visit these information booths and find out how they can support.”

The first few rows of the venue of the festival are also going to be transformed into a large cove they’re calling the “Teacher’s Lounge.”

“We set aside these passes for educators, and there’s these upgrade opportunities, and it’s a really good view of the gig,” Carlile says. “It’s our way to thank teachers in Florida who are really struggling with oppressive laws surrounding their curriculum. We just want to throw a party for them and have a spot where they can sit and drink wine.”

In the years she’s done her Girls Just Wanna Weekend, Carlile says she’s had so many “powerful” moments. The most recent festival was in January.

“Looking out from the stage this year, I saw so many men,” she says. “I loved it so much. That’s when you see the tides changing — when men realize their role and responsibility in platforming female leadership, and that they realize that it’s f—ing fun.”

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Source: © Copyright People

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Bonnie Raitt’s Grammy-Winning Song of the Year Tells Story of a Mother and Her Child’s Heart Recipient

on February 6, 2023 No comments
Corey Bryant

On Sunday, February 5, Bonnie Raitt took home the Grammy for Song of the Year for her self-penned song, “Just Like That.”

“Just Like That” tells a story of a mother’s journey after the loss of a child, the healing power of organ donation and the connection between a donor family and a recipient. Through powerful lyrics, a mother gets to be with her son one more time because of the kindness of a stranger, and because of the kindness she first showed him.

The Alliance congratulates Bonnie Raitt for her Grammy Award-winning Song of the Year, and we extend our heartfelt thanks for bringing awareness to the profound power of organ, eye and tissue donation. We invite everyone to register as an organ, eye and tissue donor by visiting, and sharing your decision with your loved ones.

The following is an excerpt from American Songwriter, describing the origins of her award-winning song:

The Origins

In conversation with American Songwriter, Raitt explained the inspiration for “Just Like That” came from a human interest piece that had been broadcast on the news. The story was about a woman who had donated her son’s heart after his death and was about to meet the organ’s recipient for the first time.

“I just lost it,” Raitt said of the moment the man let the mother hear her late son’s heart in his chest. “It was the most moving and surprising thing. I wasn’t expecting it. I vowed right then that I wanted to write a song about what that would take.”

And so she set out to write the story song, “Just Like That,” and her subsequent album of the same name. In between her words of disbelief, she reiterated the story behind the song in her Grammy acceptance speech, citing the late great John Prine as instrumental inspiration as well.

Watch her acceptance below.


The Lyrics

“Every time I hear about a family donating organs when their child has been killed, or there’s some sort of sudden death—as if you’re not in grief and shock enough—to have the view and the compassion and the love to be able to pay it forward like that is so incredible,” Raitt told American Songwriter.

“Just Like That” tells the story of the meeting of the mother and the recipient, depicting an interaction that is both heartwarming and gut-wrenching.

I watched him circle ’round the block / Finally stopped at mine / Took a while before he knocked / Like all he had was time, the song begins with curiosity and apprehension ahead of the bittersweet meeting. “Excuse me, ma’am, maybe you can help / The directions weren’t so clear / I’m looking for Olivia Zand / They said I might find her here.”

Well I looked real hard and asked him / “What she’s got he’s looking for?” the song’s narrator responds. Met with the reply Said “there’s somethin’ I think she’d want to know,” the tune takes off on a touching journey of loss and love.

And just like that your life can change / If I hadn’t looked away / My boy might still be with me now / He’d be 25 today, the chorus plays, No knife can carve away the stain / No drink can drown regret / They say Jesus brings you peace and grace / Well he ain’t found me yet.

The next verse reveals why this stranger has come and what it is he has to say. He sat down and took a deeper breath / Then looked right in my face / “I heard about the son you lost / How you left without a trace / I’ve spent years just trying to find you / So I could finally let you know / It was your son’s heart that saved me / And a life you gave us both.”

Just like the exposé that inspired “Just Like That,” the mother gets to be with her son one more time because of the kindness of a stranger, and because of the kindness she first showed him.

And just like that your life can change, the song comes to a close. Look what the angels send / I lay my head upon his chest / And I was with my boy again / Well I spent so long in darkness / I never thought the night would end / But somehow grace has found me / And I had to let him in.


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Source: © Copyright The Alliance

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A Call from Bonnie Raitt: A story of love, loss and inspiration | GUEST COMMENTARY

on June 23, 2022 2 comments

By Paul G. Pinsky

My wife Joan deeply loved Bonnie Raitt, as a musician and as a role model. Joan always saw Bonnie as a wonderfully strong, outspoken and progressive, independent woman.

Growing up, I admired Bonnie Raitt as well, for her social justice advocacy and activism. My early musical passions, on the other hand, leaned more male heavy, to musicians like Bruce Springsteen and Jackson Browne.

But after Joan and I met, fell in love and married, I found myself coming to share her intense passion for Bonnie Raitt’s music. In our household, I had the chief responsibility for keeping tabs on upcoming concerts, and I made sure to buy tickets whenever Bonnie came through our Washington, D.C., metropolitan area. Over 35 years, we must have seen Bonnie Raitt in person at least 10 times, at venues that ranged from the Merriweather Post Pavilion in Maryland and Wolf Trap in Virginia to Constitution Hall and the Kennedy Center in the District.

Our two daughters, now in their early and mid-30s, went through a musical evolution as well. They went from captive audience, forced to listen to Bonnie ‘s music on long car rides, to big fans.

Throughout all these years, Joan’s career in education was getting ever more demanding. She rose to a top administrative position in Special Education for one of the nation’s 20 largest public school systems, with responsibility over a mega-million dollar budget. In such a large system, not surprisingly, Joan ran into some bitter “office politics,” and she could take efforts to put roadblocks in her way, personally. Bonnie’s song, “I Will Not Be Broken,” would become Joan’s personal anthem.

We would end up able, by and large, to handle all the ups and downs of career and family life, at least until we faced the challenge of a gut-punch we had never expected: Joan’s diagnosis of pancreatic cancer in March 2019. At the time, Joan had just about reached her 63rd birthday.

Music — from Bonnie Raitt and anyone else — would quickly fade from our focus. Appointments with oncologists and chemotherapy treatments would soon fill our schedules, followed by proton therapy from our home outside Washington to trips to Baltimore’s University of Maryland Medical Center. Eventually, our treatment path led to the “Whipple procedure,” a surgery that aims to double the chances for a better five-year survival rate.

The doctors warned us beforehand that even initially successful surgery can go south. In Joan’s case, unfortunately, it did. Which brings me back to Bonnie Raitt.

What could I do for Joan in those final days? How could I lift her spirits when her life was ebbing away? I thought about Bonnie Raitt and, with some wonderful help, I tracked down email addresses and contacts for people close to her. Her personal assistant would soon prove invaluable. I had one question: “Would Bonnie be willing to call a lifelong supporter to lift her spirits in a most difficult time?”

The answer would be yes.

We had a few predictable fits and starts in setting the contact up, but finally, early in February 2020, we had everything all ready. About an hour before the scheduled call, I gave Joan some warning. I told her she’d be receiving a call from the West Coast. Was our friend Sharon, Joan asked, going to be calling? No, I replied, “Bonnie.”

“Bonnie who?” Joan asked.

“Bonnie Raitt,” I said.

Joan went into total shock. For just a moment, she could forget all about her oppressive prognosis.

At the scheduled time, Bonnie called. She and I spoke briefly. I told her about Joan and how much Bonnie’s music had always meant to her. I explained that I had been working for economic and social justice as a Maryland state legislator since the 1980s. Her response: “Keep on fighting.”

I then went upstairs and gave Joan the phone. Bonnie would be friendly, affirming and inquisitive, particularly about Joan’s lifelong commitment to children with disabilities. After almost 15 minutes, the call ended, leaving Joan in semi-shock, still trying to process that she had just spoken to the Bonnie Raitt.

Joan passed away six weeks later. I can only hope she had sweet dreams after the call strong enough to banish — if only for a few nights — the end she knew was coming. Bonnie Raitt frequently sings the great John Prine song, “Angel from Montgomery.” That evening of the call and ever since, Bonnie Raitt has been that angel for our family.

Early this June, my daughter, some friends, and I saw Bonnie Raitt perform for the first time since Joan’s passing over two years earlier. What with COVID, Bonnie hadn’t been touring for several years.

Her set and music turned out to be, as always, outstanding. She became particularly emotional explaining the roots of her new song, “Just Like That,” the story of a man who seeks out the mother of the young man who gave him a new heart — and life. Bonnie’s love and compassion came through deeply throughout the concert. But I already knew that. I knew her caring amounted to much more than mere performance.

Only one of my daughters attended that night, the other had an out-of-town commitment. She missed a great concert. I enjoyed it immensely.

It just wasn’t quite the same.

Paul Pinsky (, a former teacher, currently serves as a senator in the Maryland state legislature.

Source: © Copyright The Baltimore Sun

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