Biography

Bonnie Raitt Releases New Product and..”Just Like That”

on September 23, 2022 No comments
by Sandy Graham

Raised in Los Angeles in a climate of respect for the arts, Quaker traditions, and a commitment to social activism. A Stella guitar given to her as a Christmas present launched Bonnie on her creative journey at the age of eight. While growing up, though passionate about music from the start, she never considered that it would play a greater role than as one of her many growing interests.

With Just Like That…, her twenty-first album and her first new release in more than six years, Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Bonnie Raitt continues to draw on the range of influences that have shaped her legendary career, while creating something that speaks to the circumstances and challenges of these unprecedented times.

The title comes from a line in one of her new original songs (“Just like that your life can change”), which seemed especially fitting “because there’s never been a time that made me look around and say, ‘Nobody saw this coming’—where all of a sudden, everything shifted.”

As her own tour following 2016’s acclaimed Dig In Deep album was winding down, Raitt got a call from with her friend James Taylor inviting her to hit the road on a bill together. Their tour dates were extended multiple times (even taking them to Europe, concluding with a show alongside Paul Simon in London’s Hyde Park). They were planning to keep going when the world shut down in March 2020.

She did her best to continue playing online fundraisers around the election, social justice, and environmental issues during the pandemic, and when it looked like things were opening up in the summer of 2021, Raitt brought her band to Northern California to rehearse and, for the first time, to record closer to where she lives. “I’ve always wanted to make a record here, and once vaccinations made traveling safe again, we were thrilled to get everyone back together,” says the ten-time Grammy winner. “I think the absolute joy and relief of reuniting to play live music is really palpable on this record.”

The mix of sounds and approaches on Just Like That…reveals how, fifty years after the release of her debut album, Bonnie Raitt continues to personify what it means to stay creative, adventurous, and daring over the course of a life’s work. “On this record, I wanted to stretch,” she says. “I always want to find songs that excite me, and what’s different this time is that I’ve tried some styles and topics I haven’t touched on before.”

The album’s biggest surprises come from the four songs composed by Raitt. “Living for the Ones,” co-written with her longtime guitarist George Marinelli, is a rocking dedication to the friends and family she has lost in recent years, while the funky, sardonic “Waitin’ for You to Blow” about the devil on Recovery’s shoulder, is equal parts Mose Allison, Eddie Harris, and ‘70s funk. “There’s something thrilling about creating something brand new out of feelings and styles that have always run so deep in me,” she says.

Two songs were inspired by real-life scenarios; “Down the Hall” began when Raitt read a New York Times story a few years ago about a prison hospice program, and the album’s title track was sparked by a local news segment showing two families deeply impacted on both sides of an organ donation. “My heart was just so blown open,” she says. “I knew both times that these were what I wanted to write about.”

More than just a best-selling artist, respected guitarist, expressive singer, and accomplished songwriter, Bonnie Raitt has become an institution in American music. Born to a musical family, the ten-time Grammy winner, who Rolling Stone named as both one of the “100 Greatest Singers of All Time” and one of the “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time,” is the daughter of celebrated Broadway singer John Raitt (Carousel, Oklahoma!, The Pajama Game) and accomplished pianist/singer Marge Goddard. She was raised in Los Angeles in a climate of respect for the arts, Quaker traditions, and a commitment to social activism. A Stella guitar given to her as a Christmas present launched Bonnie on her creative journey at the age of eight. While growing up, though passionate about music from the start, she never considered that it would play a greater role than as one of her many growing interests.

In the late ’60s, restless in Los Angeles, she moved east to Cambridge, Massachusetts. As a Harvard/Radcliffe student majoring in Social Relations and African Studies, she attended classes and immersed herself in the city’s turbulent cultural and political activities. “I couldn’t wait to get back to where there were folkies and the antiwar and civil rights movements,” she says. “There were so many great music and political scenes going on in the late ’60s in Cambridge.” Also, she adds with a laugh, “the ratio of guys to girls at Harvard was four to one, so all of those things were playing in my mind.”

Raitt was already deeply involved with folk music and the blues at that time. Exposure to the album Blues at Newport 1963 at age 14 had kindled her interest in blues and slide guitar, and between classes at Harvard she explored these and other styles in local coffeehouse gigs. Three years after entering college, Bonnie left to commit herself full-time to music, and shortly afterward found herself opening for surviving giants of the blues. From Mississippi Fred McDowell, Sippie Wallace, Son House, Muddy Waters, and John Lee Hooker, she learned first-hand lessons of life, as well as invaluable techniques of performance.

“I’m certain that it was an incredible gift for me to not only be friends with some of the greatest blues people who’ve ever lived, but to learn how they played, how they sang, how they lived their lives, ran their marriages, and talked to their kids,” she says. “I was especially lucky as so many of them are no longer with us.”

Word spread quickly of the young red-haired blueswoman, her soulful, unaffected way of singing, and her uncanny insights into blues guitar. Warner Bros. tracked her down, signed her up, and in 1971 released her debut album, Bonnie Raitt. Her interpretations of classic blues by Robert Johnson and Sippie Wallace made a powerful critical impression, but the presence of intriguing tunes by contemporary songwriters, as well as several examples of her own writing, indicated that this artist would not be restricted to any one pigeonhole or style.

Over the next seven years she would record six albums. Give It Up, Takin’ My Time, Streetlights, and Home Plate were followed in 1977 by Sweet Forgiveness, which featured her first hit single, a gritty Memphis/R&B arrangement of Del Shannon’s “Runaway.” Three Grammy nominations followed in the 1980s, as she released The Glow, Green Light, and Nine Lives. A compilation of highlights from these Warner Bros. albums (plus two previously unreleased live duets) was released as The Bonnie Raitt Collection in 1990. All of these Warner albums have been digitally remastered and re-released.

In between sessions, when not burning highways on tour with her band, she devoted herself to playing benefits and speaking out in support of an array of worthy causes, campaigning to stop the war in Central America; participating in the Sun City anti-apartheid project; performing at the historic 1980 No Nukes concerts at Madison Square Garden; co-founding MUSE (Musicians United for Safe Energy); and working for environmental protection and for the rights of women and Native Americans.

Bonnie Raitt plays on “Brownie” during a concert “Harvey Can’t Mess With Texas” to raise money after Hurricane Harvey in 2017 in Austin, Texas © Gary Miller /Getty Images

After forging an alliance with Capitol Records in 1989, Bonnie achieved new levels of popular and critical acclaim. She won four Grammy Awards in 1990—three for her Nick of Time album and one for her duet with John Lee Hooker on his breakthrough album The Healer. Within weeks, Nick of Time shot to number one (it is now certified quintuple platinum). Luck of the Draw (1991, seven-times platinum) brought even more success, firing two hit singles—”Something to Talk About” and “I Can’t Make You Love Me”—up the charts, and adding three more Grammys to her shelf.

The double-platinum Longing in Their Hearts, released in 1994, featured the hit single “Love Sneakin’ Up On You” and was honored with a Grammy for Best Pop Album. It was followed in 1995 by the live double-CD and film Road Tested (now available on DVD). Along with her own set, it features duets with Bryan Adams, Jackson Browne, Bruce Hornsby, Ruth Brown, Charles Brown, and Kim Wilson.

After all the awards and honors and decades of virtually non-stop touring under her belt, Bonnie continued her activism and guesting on numerous friends’ records, including Ruth Brown, Charles Brown, Keb’ Mo, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, and Bruce Cockburn, as well as tribute records for Richard Thompson, Lowell George, and Pete Seeger. She picked up another Grammy in 1996 for Best Rock Instrumental Performance for her collaboration on “SRV Shuffle” from the all-star Tribute to Stevie Ray Vaughan, and continued her “dual career,” performing with her father, John, in concerts as well as on his Grammy-nominated album, Broadway Legend, released in 1995.

In 1998, she returned to the studio with a new collaborative team to create Fundamental, one of her most exploratory projects, signaling her growing desire to “shake things up a bit.” Inspired by the music of Zimbabwean world-beat master Oliver Mtukudzi, Bonnie wrote “One Belief Away,” the first single, with Paul Brady and Dillon O’Brian.

In March of 2000, Bonnie was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame; this was followed by her welcome into the Hollywood Bowl Hall of Fame, along with her father, in June 2001.

After the Fundamental tour, she went back into the studio with her veteran road band to record Silver Lining, released in 2002. Featuring Bonnie’s stunning interpretation of the David Gray-penned title track, the Grammy-nominated “Gnawin’ On It,” and the hit single “I Can’t Help You Now,” Silver Lining was considered by many critics to be one of the best albums of her career. She promoted the album with a lengthy world tour that included her Green Highway Festival and an eco-partnership promoting BioDiesel fuel, the environment, and alternative energy solutions at shows and benefits along the way. In 2003, she released the retrospective The Best of Bonnie Raitt on Capitol.

Raitt stayed busy with more guest appearances, including the stunning duet “Do I Ever Cross Your Mind” on Ray Charles’ final release Genius Loves Company, which won the Grammy award for Album of the Year, and a duet on the Grammy-winning album True Love by Toots & The Maytals. Her 1989 breakthrough album Nick of Time was remixed for surround sound, and released by Capitol Records in 2004 as a DVD-Audio, garnering a Grammy nomination in the newly created category, Best Surround Sound Album.

In 2003, she also participated in Martin Scorsese’s acclaimed PBS series, The Blues, performing two songs in Wim Wenders’ film, The Soul of a Man, and joining the all-star cast of Lightning in a Bottle, the live feature concert film on the Blues directed by Antoine Fuqua. She also contributed songs for two Disney movies, The Country Bears and Home on the Range. She played guitar on a track on Stevie Wonder’s 2005 album A Time To Love, and appeared in the TV/DVD tribute Music l0l: Al Green.

Souls Alike, her first album ever to bear the credit “Produced by Bonnie Raitt,” debuted at #19 on the Billboard 200 in 2005, eliciting widespread critical acclaim and propelling Raitt back onto the road. She was also selected as the inaugural artist for the VH1 Classic Decades Rock Live! CD/DVD series. Bonnie Raitt and Friends, featuring Norah Jones, Ben Harper, Alison Krauss and Keb’ Mo’, was released in 2006.

In the years in and around the release of Souls Alike, she co-headlined (with Jackson Browne and Keb Mo’) part of the historic “Vote For Change” tour leading up to the 2004 Presidential election, and then for the 2008 election, she staged a series of benefit concerts and fundraising receptions to help get out the vote and encourage voting in key Democratic Senate races. In 2007, Bonnie joined her MUSE (Musicians United for Safe Energy) friends Jackson Browne and Graham Nash to launch a campaign to prevent the legislative bailout of the nuclear industry and developed www.nukefree.org, a website that serves as an information and networking hub for safe energy activists. In 2011, MUSE mounted a very successful benefit concert at Shoreline Amphitheatre to raise funds for Japan disaster relief (following the devastating earthquake, tsunami and meltdown of the Daichi-Fukushima nuclear reactors earlier in the year), as well as non-nuclear organizations worldwide.

Bonnie continues to use her influence to affect the way music is perceived and appreciated in the world. In 1988, she was one of the co-founders of the Rhythm and Blues Foundation, which works to improve royalties, financial conditions, and recognition for a whole generation of R&B pioneers to whom she feels we owe so much. In 1995, she initiated the Bonnie Raitt Guitar Project with the Boys and Girls Clubs of America, currently running in 200 clubs around the world, to encourage underprivileged youth to play music as budgets for music instruction in the schools run dry. Bonnie sits on the Advisory or Honorary Boards of a number of organizations, including Little Kids Rock, Rainforest Action Network, Music Maker Relief Foundation, and the Arhoolie Foundation.

Her commitment to the redemptive power of music is expressed in the foreword she wrote to American Roots, the book based on 2001’s PBS series of the same name. “I feel strongly that this appreciation needs to be out there so that black, Latino and all kids can understand the roots of their own musical heritage,” she explains. “The consolidation of the music business has made it difficult to encourage styles like the blues, all of which deserve to be celebrated as part of our most treasured national resources.”

The years before and after Souls Alike weren’t an easy time for Raitt, with the passing of parents, her brother, and a best friend. So after following that album with her usual long run of touring—winding up with the “dream come true” of the “BonTaj Roulet” collaborative, R&B-style revue with Taj Mahal in 2009 (which raised over $200,000 for charity) and a triumphant appearance at the all-star Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 25th anniversary concerts the same year—she decided to step back and recharge for a while. Excited to have time at home and with her family and friends, she explored different kinds of music as a listener, while continuing her ongoing political work, helping to organize NukeFree.org and supporting her favorite non-profit organizations.

When she returned to the studio—first in a series of sessions with producer Joe Henry and then serving as producer herself—the result was the triumphant Slipstream. After spending her career split between Warner Bros and Capitol Records, she ventured out on her own with a label called Redwing Records. The album sold over a quarter-million copies in 2012, making it one of the top-selling independent albums, and earned Raitt her tenth Grammy Award, for Best Americana Album. From the New York Times to People Magazine, Slipstream was also lauded in numerous critics’ lists for album of the year.

Raitt played over 170 shows in North America, Singapore, Australia/New Zealand, the UK and Europe on her 2012-2013 Slipstream Tour, made numerous national TV appearances, performed at the 2012 Kennedy Center Honors, and received the Lifetime Achievement Award for Performance from the Americana Music Association.

Raitt notes that, more than anything, what struck her about the reaction she received when she returned to the stage was the range and diversity of her audience. “My fans stay loyal and stand up and cheer and love ‘Angel from Montgomery,’ but I feel like we built a whole new audience with the younger Americana generation,” she says. “It’s very gratifying to know that there’s some traction there—that it wasn’t just a couple of songs on the radio around ‘Nick of Time’ or ‘Something to Talk About’ or ‘I Can’t Make You Love Me.’ What’s going on with music now, in terms of roots music, is the harvest of what we did in the ’60s and ’70s. It’s thrilling to be around at this time. I feel part of a continuum.”

With 2016’s Dig In Deep, Raitt kept things focused and close to home. Feeling that her recent tour was one of her best ever, she was eager to get her touring band back in the studio. She again produced the album herself, and notably, she had writing credits on five of the album’s songs—the most original compositions she contributed to a record since 1998’s Fundamental. The accolades continued to accumulate; in 2017, Raitt was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Guitar Museum, and In 2018, she received the People’s Voice Award from the Folk Alliance International in recognition of her activism.

As COVID ravaged the world, Raitt suffered the loss of several close friends and colleagues, including Toots Hibbert and John Prine. In fact, she had spent much of the previous year with Prine, performing at the ceremony when he was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame and on the Grammy celebration of his receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award. She appears on the compilation released by Prine’s label, Oh Boy Records, in October 2021—one of the more than 185 outside projects on which Bonnie has participated as a special guest over the years, including work with friends, on soundtracks, and for special benefit albums. Among the highlights are duets with John Lee Hooker, B.B. King, John Raitt, Aretha Franklin, Willie Nelson, Tony Bennett, and Ray Charles. (For a complete list of recorded collaborations, please visit bonnieraitt.com/music/guest-discography/.)

Twenty-one albums in, Bonnie Raitt has never felt more grateful that she can continue making music, contributing to causes, keeping her crew working, connecting with her audience. “I’m really aware of how lucky I am and I feel like my responsibility is to get out there and say something fresh and new—for me and for the fans,” she says. “It’s really daunting not to repeat yourself, but I have to have something to say, or I wouldn’t put out a record.”


Source: © Copyright Record World International

But wait, there's more!

Five Reasons Bonnie Raitt is a Guitar Legend

on September 7, 2021 No comments
By Guitar Player Staff

Here’s why the blues guitar phenom continues to be a leading light.

B.B. King called her the “best damn slide player working today.” Indeed, with a glass slide on the second finger of her left hand, Bonnie Raitt coaxes a voice from her Fender Stratocaster as tough, sensuous and expressive as her own. Here are five reasons she remains a blues guitar legend…

1. Philadelphia

Her decades-long career almost didn’t happen. Born in Burbank, California, in 1949, to the Broadway musical star John Raitt and pianist Marjorie Haydock, Raitt began playing guitar at a young age before attending Radcliffe College and majoring in Social Relations and African studies.

While there, she got friendly with blues promoter Dick Waterman and moved with him and other musicians to Philadelphia. “It was an opportunity that young white girls just don’t get,” she said, “and as it turns out, an opportunity that changed everything.”

2. “Runaway”

Raitt was opening for “Mississippi” Fred McDowell at the Gaslight Cafe in Greenwich Village in 1970, when a reporter from Newsweek caught her performance and began to spread the word about her. Soon after, she signed with Warner Bros. and released her self-titled debut.

Raitt’s record sales were modest, but in 1977 she had her commercial breakthrough with a bluesy remake of Del Shannon’s 1961 hit, “Runaway.” The song raised her profile, and in 1980, she appeared as herself in the film Urban Cowboy, singing “Don’t It Make Ya Wanna Dance.”

Bonnie Raitt performs during the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival at Fair Grounds Race Course on April 28, 2018 in New Orleans, Louisiana. © Tim Mosenfelder /WireImage

3. Perseverance

The 1980s proved tough, as Warner dropped Raitt and she battled substance abuse. In 1988, she met producer Don Was while recording a track for the Disney tribute album Stay Awake, and the two subsequently worked on her 10th album, 1989’s Nick of Time. Featuring the singles “Nick of Time,” a cover of John Hiatt’s “Thing Called Love” and “Have a Heart,” the record went to the top of the charts and swept the Grammys.

Raitt’s streak rolled along with Luck of the Draw, Longing in Their Hearts and the live Road Tested, and she turned in a Grammy-winning performance of “I’m in the Mood” with John Lee Hooker on his album The Healer. Her career has continued to thrive ever since, with her last five studio albums reaching into the Billboard Top 20, and 2012’s Slipstream debuting at the top of the Rock and Blues Albums charts.

Bonnie Raitt’s 1971 debut album is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year (Image credit: Rhino)

4. Political Activism

A politically active artist, Raitt advocates against the use of nuclear energy and is a founding member of Musicians United for Safe Energy. In 1979, she organized five concerts for MUSE at Madison Square Garden, featuring Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, and many others, resulting in the album and film No Nukes. Raitt has also financed headstones for the graves of several blues legends, including Fred McDowell and Memphis Minnie.

5. Accolades

In March 2000, Raitt was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and in 2002 she received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. As the blues’ premier female guitarist, she continues to enthrall and inspire.

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Source: © Copyright Guitar Player

But wait, there's more!

A Guide To: Bonnie Raitt

on June 28, 2021 No comments
By Paul Sexton

In the glow of Bonnie Raitt’s lifetime as a universally adored stateswoman of blues-rock, it’s a little strange to think that her records were once on a downward slide from critical acclaim to the bargain baskets. After her exciting emergence half-a-century ago as an embodiment of blues-roots authenticity and maturity beyond her years, her records from the mid-1970s through most of the 80s were sadly ruled by the law of diminishing returns.

But to anyone who ever recognised her as a cool blues rocker and one of the greatest slide guitarists known, she saved both herself and her career in one nimble move. At least, that’s how the Grammy-guzzling Nick of Time album made it seem. Raitt’s real story of personal and creative salvation is far more nuanced, but it was that 1989 chart-topper that opened the second chapter of her story, and it’s one we’ve been lapping up ever since.

Holler’s guide through her formidable body of work goes from the first steps of those early Warner Brothers releases, via the reawakening of her bestselling Capitol albums and onwards into the stately but still sassy demeanour of her more recent work. They reflect Raitt’s unfailing ability to record compositions that fit her being in every sense, as well as her belated blossoming as a songwriter in her own right.

All of 27 years ago, I sat down with Raitt in the storied surroundings of the Capitol Tower in Los Angeles as she released her 12th studio set, Longing In Their Hearts. That total has since climbed to 17, so with a cache of some 200 tunes to choose from, and barely a misstep among them, our playlist is highly selective. But, nevertheless, it’s lovingly drawn from one of the great catalogues in any genre.

The Bonnie I met all those years ago stays firmly in my memory as warm, engaged, completely motivated by music and never to be messed with. With a self-awareness that any young artist would do well to learn from, she knew full well that the “life-changing” success of her most famous album had refreshed her shelf life, just when the clock was close to midnight.

That renewal had much to do with her determination to clean up her act and distance herself from a wild past, in which the rule of excess applied to most of her life. But this was no born-again evangelism – “You’ll torture yourself, at least if you’re this kind of personality,” she told me. “They call it an alcoholic or addictive personality; I call it a rock ‘n’ roll personality. Just rebellious to the end, going kicking and screaming into adulthood. I’m very happy to be responsible and alert all the time, but it’s a pain in the ass”.

An eloquent advocate for artists’ rights and for the legacies of her forebears, she spends far more time championing her fellow travellers than amplifying her own achievements. It gives us all the more reason to do the latter, as we invite you to leaf through Bonnie’s back pages.

‘Thank You’ (Bonnie Raitt – 1971)

From the get-go, Raitt’s instincts were to infuse her unimpeachable credentials as a new blues ambassador with ingredients from the worlds of pop, soul, rock and the new singer-songwriter era. That’s why her self-titled 1971 debut included Stephen Stills’ ‘Bluebird’, a tune recorded by Motown’s Marvelettes, Robert Johnson’s ‘Walking Blues’ and two covers of 1920’s “Texas Nightingale” by Sippie Wallace. On a spontaneous LP recorded partly live when she was just 21, she also contributed her first two self-penned songs, of which ‘Finest Lovin’ Man’ is bona fide raunchy blues. Our choice, ‘Thank You’, is cut from more contemporary cloth; its graceful changes and soulful vocals hinting at glories to come.

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‘Love has no Pride’ (Give It Up – 1972)

This sumptuously sad ballad was written by the undeservedly lesser-known Eric Kaz and Libby Titus. It served notice of Raitt’s foolproof radar for the right type of song for her, with Kaz joining the original circle of composers (which also included Jackson Browne and Chris Smither) whose work she especially admired. Elsewhere, she also interpreted Kaz’s ‘Angel’, ‘Cry Like A Rainstorm’, ‘River of Tears’ and another gem that we’ll come to in a short while. This closing track from Bonnie’s second album displayed her uncanny ear for a lyric, as she explores the almost heroic desolation of romantic defeat (“Love has no pride when there’s no one left to blame / I’d give anything to see you again”).

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‘Write Me a Few of Your Lines / Kokomo Blues’ (Takin’ My Time – 1973)

The album-a-year schedule of the 1970s brought a splendid third LP that covered the waterfront, from soul (Martha & the Vandellas’ ‘You’ve Been In Love Too Long’) via calypso (‘Wah She Go Do’) to singer-songwriter, with songs contributed by Browne and Randy Newman. Bonnie’s beloved blues lineage was also admirably represented, both with Mose Allison’s ‘Everybody’s Cryin’ Mercy’ and this skilfully segued tribute to another of her guiding lights, Mississippi Fred McDowell. A-list album contributors also included Van Dyke Parks, Taj Mahal and most of Little Feat. The bottleneck, electric and acoustic guitars were all the artist’s own.

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‘Angel From Montgomery’ (Streetlights – 1974)

John Prine’s immortal composition from his debut album, one of his first vignettes to make poetry out of real life, has become an endlessly remade Americana staple. It’s little remembered that it was first covered by John Denver, but when Bonnie got to the song, she took up permanent residence. I remember her playing it at a London show in the early 1990s when, as she does at every show for almost every writer she covers, she gave generous thanks to its creator. Everyone has done it since, from Tanya Tucker to Carly Simon to Old Crow Medicine Show, yet it goes without saying that Raitt’s is the unassailable interpretation.

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‘I’m Blowin’ Away’ (Home Plate – 1975)

More exquisite melancholy from the pen of Eric Kaz. One could easily fill an entire Raitt playlist with such superior, soul-baring heartbreakers, on which she seems to bare her very soul. Listen for the magnificent string and horn arrangement by Nick De Caro, and the dream-team harmonies of Emmylou Harris, Jackson Browne and J.D. Souther. It’s Raitt’s supremely supple and evocative lead vocals that make this a focal point of her fifth studio release.

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‘Home’ (Sweet Forgiveness – 1977)

Two years after, an album arrived that first made me aware of such a singular talent, especially when I bought the single from it – a slinky remake of Del Shannon’s pop classic ‘Runaway’. Even the label, the famous old artwork announcing “Burbank, Home Of Warner Bros. Records,” was alluring. Flipping the 45, you found a bonus feature, in the shape of this beguiling love letter to the joys of home. It was written by yet another underrated singer-songwriter of the day, Californian soft-rock songbird Karla Bonoff, who was also much favoured by Linda Ronstadt.

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‘The Glow’ (The Glow – 1979)

Our heroine moved out of the 1970s and into the era of digital recording with her seventh album. It was full of sexy soul, starting with two Isaac Hayes & David Porter tunes – Sam & Dave’s ‘I Thank You’ and Mabel John’s ‘Your Good Thing (Is About To End)’. The single was a rocking version of Robert Palmer’s ‘You’re Gonna Get What’s Coming’, but we make no apology for choosing another stunning slow number. ‘The Glow’, written by Veyler Hildebrand, is one of the countless precious stones embedded deep in Raitt’s awesome inventory, featuring a superb vocal performance of a sophisticated, late-night jazz delicacy.

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‘Keep This Heart In Mind’ (Green Light – 1982)

Disappointed by the lukewarm response to The Glow, Raitt changed gear for Green Light, her first album of the 1980s. Here, she teamed with rock producer Rob Fraboni, on a record she remembers with more fondness than many of her other studio endeavours. Still working largely from outside material, she tried Bob Dylan’s ‘Let’s Keep This Between Us’ and even Eddy Grant’s ‘Baby Come Back’. Fred Marrone and Steve Holsapple’s spirited ‘Keep This Heart in Mind’ again had Jackson Browne hands across it, alongside the featured saxophone of David Woodford.

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‘Nick Of Time’ (Nick of Time – 1989)

Rarely has an album been so aptly titled. Masterfully overseen by Don Was, Nick of Time reset Raitt’s creative compass just as she was disappearing into the long grass, having been dropped by Warner Brothers and mired in personal problems. Admirer Prince had set up what became an ill-starred dalliance with Paisley Park Records, but that uncertain road eventually led to Capitol Records, three Grammys and five million sales. Was, superb at divining the very core of an artist’s talent, took the production back to basics, and outstanding song choices (John Hiatt, Bonnie Hayes, David & Julia Lasley and others) were complemented by his confidence in her own songwriting. Hence a wonderful title track in which an older, wiser Bonnie reflects with autobiographical humility on the passing years, ending up with a prize she never dreamed of.

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‘Something To Talk About’ (Luck of the Draw – 1991)

Far from being a flash in the pan comeback, Nick Of Time completely redrew the map of Raitt’s national and international appeal. When the follow-up album emerged two years later, this time listing her as co-producer with Was, it was even more successful, and was seven-times platinum in America alone before the end of the 1990s. Reborn as a writer, she contributed four songs of her own to sit with Paul Brady’s title-track, Hiatt’s ‘No Business’, Womack & Womack’s ‘Good Man, Good Woman’ (featuring Delbert McClinton) and others. Canadian Shirley Eikhard’s whip-smart ‘Something To Talk About’ was a worthy first single; a fabulous showcase for Bonnie’s peerless slide guitar, it was the biggest US hit she ever had, reaching No. 5.

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‘I Can’t Make You Love Me’ (Luck of the Draw – 1991)

Also on Luck Of The Draw was this stunning ballad and second single, an adult song of love and loss that cuts to the centre of a broken romance like open-heart surgery. It was composed by country songwriters Mike Reid and Allen Shamblin and cast Raitt’s aching vocals against the piano and additional keyboards of Bruce Hornsby. Anyone who doesn’t shiver at lines like “You can’t make your heart feel something it won’t” needs to check their pulse.

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‘Longing In Their Hearts’ (Longing In Their Hearts – 1994)

Raitt’s next album came striding into view with another US pop hit in the ’Something To Talk About’ vein – Tom Snow and Jimmy Scott’s ‘Love Sneakin’ Up On You’. At this time, Bonnie was favouring British and Irish writers such as Richard Thompson, Terry Britten and Paul Brady, but crucially her own pen was now in full flow. One of her four credits was this co-write with her husband of the time, actor Michael O’Keefe, an everyday story of yearning that combined the best elements of rock and folk, heightened by George Marinelli’s Stonesy guitar and his supporting mandolin. Throw in a we-are-not-worthy harmony vocal by Levon Helm, and you’re in business.

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‘I Can’t Help You Now’ (Silver Lining – 2002)

Her multi-platinum status may have ebbed away by the turn of the century, but by now Raitt’s place among the recording and performing elite was inviolable. For the second album in a row, after 1998’s Fundamental, Tchad Blake and Mitchell Froom joined her on the production couch, and there was another smart nod to the big writer-artists of the day, in her cover of David Gray’s title track. Billboard marvelled at how she “deftly remains relevant in today’s youth-centric contemporary pop scene.” This pleasing lead single was penned by Tommy Sims, Gordon Kennedy and Wayne Kirkpatrick, the team behind Eric Clapton’s ‘Change the World’, and you can hear the echoes.

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‘Used To Rule The World’ (Slipstream – 2012)

Slipstream had Raitt co-producing with Joe Henry on a complete album of interpretations, on which she turned to favoured writers Dylan and Brady. Hailed as one of her best releases in many years, it went on to win a Grammy as Best Americana Album, acknowledging a latter-day genre name for a sound that she fundamentally helped to invent. This supremely funky opening track was an inspired choice, written by the seemingly effortless style of Randall Bramblett and perfectly suited to a sixty-something kindred spirit. It has her cutting electric and slide shapes for fun alongside road band guitarists Johnny Lee Schell and George Marinelli, with extra glide stemming from Mike Finnigan’s Hammond B3 stride.

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‘All Alone With Something To Say’ (Dig in Deep – 2016)

Bonnie’s most recent, 17th studio set welcomed her back as a contributing writer, on no fewer than five of its 12 titles. The album and its ensuing tour, including a triumphant night at London’s Hammersmith Apollo, saw her at the pinnacle of her form, in fantastic voice and having the time of her life. Intelligent writers of grown-up material are drawn to her like bees to pollen, as on Steven Dale Jones and Gordon Kennedy’s wondrous and wistful ‘All Alone with Something To Say’. It sees life through the prism of experience with all its ups and downs, by an artist who has never been anything but true to her inspiring spirit. As she told me back in that 1994 interview: “There are people that love you for life and they’re going to get you. So, I’m never going to have to do something else for a living so long as, God willing, my voice and my guitar playing holds up”.

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