A return visit to Paul Ingles’ studio by Rock and Roll Hall of Famer and unofficial, but undisputed, American Treasure, Bonnie Raitt. Who gives listeners a guided tour through her 2022 album release –JUST LIKE THAT – her 18th studio album over a career that started with her first album in 1971. Bonnie offers a fascinating peak at her creative process of writing music and choosing songs to cover.
Paul Ingles - Talk Music With Me - Bonnie Raitt: JUST LIKE THAT Hour 1
Paul Ingles - Talk Music With Me - Bonnie Raitt: JUST LIKE THAT Hour 2
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Thing Called Love – Bonnie Raitt (Live) from ROAD TESTED (excerpt) Livin’ For The Ones – Bonnie Raitt from JUST LIKE THAT Waitin’ For You To Blow – Bonnie Raitt from JUST LIKE THAT Blame It on Me (excerpt – break music) – Bonnie Raitt from JUST LIKE THAT Just Like That – Bonnie Raitt from JUST LIKE THAT Down The Hall – Bonnie Raitt from JUST LIKE THAT Love So Strong – Bonnie Raitt from JUST LIKE THAT
Walkin’ Blues – (excerpt) – Bonnie Raitt from BONNIE RAITT Made Up Mind – Bonnie Raitt from JUST LIKE THAT Something’s Got A Hold On My Heart – Bonnie Raitt from JUST LIKE THAT When We Say Goodnight – Bonnie Raitt from JUST LIKE THAT Blame it on Me – Bonnie Raitt from JUST LIKE THAT Give It Up Or Let Me Go – Bonnie Raitt from GIVE IT UP Here Comes Love – Bonnie Raitt from JUST LIKE THAT Round & Round – Bonnie Raitt from FUNDAMENTAL I Feel the Same – Bonnie Raitt from THE BONNIE RAITT COLLECTION Marriage Made In Hollywood – Bonnie Raitt from SLIPSTREAM Come to Me – Bonnie Raitt (Live) from ROAD TESTED Love Sneakin’ Up On You – Bonnie Raitt (Live) from ROAD TESTED
Everything also suddenly changed for blues musician Bonnie Raitt in 2020. After more than fifty years of making music and performing, she came home just like everyone else. How did she get through the days?
“I think every musician will say this, but it was so crazy for me not to be on the road with my guitar and singing songs for over two years.” Speaking is Bonnie Raitt (72) who has been making records since she was 20 and touring the world. “I have been making music for over fifty years. Like everyone else, I had all kinds of plans to play, when that was suddenly no longer possible in 2020. Suddenly everything changed. Just like that.” Here is one of the exegesis that she herself gives via a Zoom connection at home in California for the title of her just released 21st studio album Just Like That…
“You snap your fingers and your plans for the future are gone. I had to get used to that long sitting at home and picked up an old hobby: political activism. The pandemic came just at a time when I felt America couldn’t sink any lower. Trump had to go, I went back to work for the Democratic Party. And luckily there were more waves of action such as Black Lives Matter and climate activism. Normally I would have joined one of those action groups as a musician and organized concerts and played live. None of that was possible now, but I could use my name for a good cause.”
Campaigning was already part of it when Raitt entered Radcliffe College – the “Harvard Annex” for female students – in 1968, aged 18. African studies were her main interest, but she also played a little guitar. “I wanted to rid the world of colonialism,” Raitt says years later. “But I was quickly pulled out of university life by people watching me perform. They all thought it was very special, a young white woman who sang black blues and also played guitar.”
She herself did not find what she was doing that special. Anyway, she didn’t let the record deal with Warner Music go wrong in 1971 and the records she released from her debut album Bonnie Raitt brought her a loyal, ever-expanding audience.
“Especially in Europe, and especially with you in the Netherlands, there was a really decent audience for the kind of guitar blues I played. Also the music of my friends and label mates Ry Cooder and Lowell George’s band Little Feat initially did much better with you than in the United States. I’ve never forgotten that, the warm bath I got in the Netherlands, and I also think it’s a shame that I don’t show myself so much with you now. But that’s the way things go.”
Just like that, she quickly adds. “Well, so to speak, because it actually took years before I really broke through in my own country. That was in 1989 with my tenth album Nick of Time. I had stopped drinking, had a new record label and a new producer, and made a reboot. When I was 40 I scored my first real hit with Thing Called Love, a song by John Hiatt. That’s what I gave to Johnny as well. That man was already making such beautiful songs that always remained a bit under the radar with us.”
Nick of Time and the album Luck of the Draw that followed two years later made Raitt a big name in the American rock world. She won Grammys and played to an ever-increasing audience. “My repertoire has always consisted of two-thirds songs from others, and for my new album I only wrote four songs myself. But whether it was Thing Called Love or John Prine’s Angel from Montgomery, everyone always thought I wrote them myself. Apparently I have the quality to really make existing songs my own, while I don’t have the idea to put any real effort into it. But it is a talent that I still cherish.”
Musical: Carousel (Hammerstein/Rodgers, 1945)
“My father sang in big musicals like Oklahoma! and also had a lead role in Carousel, the Broadway musical that even made John Raitt a star for a while. He has played something like fifteen major musicals with which he criss-crossed the country. I think I’ve learned from him that it makes a lot of difference whether you’re playing somewhere in Kentucky or on Broadway. My father taught me to always give everything on stage.
Carousel was my favorite musical, it really touched me. My father plays the part of a father who would rather kill himself than go to prison. When he returns from heaven to earth, he sees that his daughter is 15. The song My Little Girl hit me hard when I was 9 and heard it for the first time. It still makes me emotional.”
Singer: Joan Baez
“My parents sent me and my two brothers to a Quaker camp north of New York during the holidays. There, of course, everyone was very involved in the peace movement and even then with the environment. As a young girl I already mixed activism with making music. I learned to play the guitar myself by watching the camp leaders how they were doing at the campfires. It was really the time of the great folk revival in the early 1960s when Pete Seeger had great success and Joan Baez and Bob Dylan emerged. I especially loved Joan Baez. I can’t choose, but if I have to name an album, it’s her first album with the song All My Trials. I played that at home until boredom and often brought me to tears. I loved everything about Joan Baez. She was a Quaker like me and also had partly Scottish ancestry. I also admired her voice, but also her activism, and the way in which she eventually broke away from Bob Dylan. She was a star earlier than him, but in the 1960s was too intimidated by him.
But I also always followed Dylan, you know. I’m really surprised that his latest work is among his best. If people said that about my records too, I’d be getting a bit too big for my boots.”
Singer-songwriter: John Prine
Talking about artists who managed to surprise late in their career. John Prine also made one of his most beautiful records two years before his death with The Tree of Forgiveness. I had known him and his work since the early 1970s. Like Ry Cooder and Lowell George, he has been very important to me. They really helped me grow as a slide guitarist, and John Prine taught me how to say a lot in a few words in lyrics of a song. My version of his Angel from Montgomery introduced me to a new audience in 1974.
I’ve been listening to his songs a lot lately. His death from covid two years ago really touched me deeply. He was on tour, and may have contracted it at the time. So sad, the halls were full everywhere and then suddenly everything is over. The same thing happened to another musician friend of mine six months later: Toots Hibbert of Toots & The Maytals. I wanted to do a duet with him on my new album, Love So Strong. We knew each other well, had been on festivals together. But he also died suddenly of that miserable virus. Just like that. So I just put the song on the record on my own.”
Nature: Marin County
“I don’t need to say where exactly? Because I like where I live and I prefer to walk for myself. But you should know that walking in Marin County, north of the Golden Gate Bridge, has become a favorite pastime of mine, especially during the pandemic.
When I finally started making money from music and even got a little rich, I moved to Marin County. That was always a dream, living close to the action spots of the 1960s, such as Berkeley and San Francisco.
Without giving away much about where I live, let me say that I love going to Point Reyes National Seashore for hiking. There you have many hiking trails and beach trips that you can do. That landscape is also close to that on the Irish and Scottish coasts, which I also like very much. Maybe it’s because of my Scottish roots that I got so hooked on exactly that part of America where I live now.
It was also very crazy for me to have all the musicians come to my area to record the new record. Usually I go to Los Angeles to record and commute a bit up and down. Now I mostly stayed at home and somehow that felt good too. At the end of more than two years, a kind of isolation.”
Audiobook: Niall Williams – This is Happiness (2019)
“I used to read a lot. Now I mostly listen. I would almost say to cassette books, but of course they no longer exist. We call them audiobooks now and you can just download them and put them in your ears when you go for a walk like me. I’ve heard a lot of books walking through Marin County. Lately I’ve liked books about Europe the most. To be honest, I’m a little tired of America too. I also don’t feel comfortable in current politics and was drawn to English, Irish and Australian stories during the pandemic.
This is Happiness is a novel about the electrification of rural Ireland in the 1940s. A love story that is not only very well written, but also read with a great deep Irish accent.”
Podcast: On Being with Krista Tippett
“What also lends itself very well as a soundtrack when walking is listening to podcasts. I’ve made it a point to only put earplugs in my ears when I’m walking and not when I’m sitting at home. Then I update my email or watch television. That is a kind of self-protection, otherwise I don’t do anything but listen to podcasts.
You have very good music podcasts. I recently heard one from Questlove, the drummer of The Roots, a band that I really like, by the way.
But my favorite podcast is Krista Tippett’s where she talks political and philosophical types and poets about things like spirituality. Pretty crazy, I wasn’t interested in most people beforehand and I’m also not very spiritually oriented. But I still find it an extremely fascinating podcast.”
Movie: East of Eden (Elia Kazan, 1955)
“My favorite heartbreaking movie, I think, thanks to James Dean, who I fell in love with when I first saw the movie when I was about 15 years old.
We lived in Los Angeles between 1956 and 1965. My father was able to work there and got a movie role in The Pajama Game with Doris Day in 1957. I have fond memories of that time, although LA was not important for my development. I couldn’t express myself and when I was 18 I really fled to the east coast to study there.
But when I think back to LA then, I see footage from East of Eden, which I think ran for a week in 1964 in the Million Dollar Movies series. That’s what you had in the sixties: the same movie classic on TV every night. I would always finish my homework by 9 and then go and revel in the sad story with James Dean.”
“I love cycling. I think that has been since I first came to you in the Netherlands and was overwhelmed by the amount of cyclists there. The bicycle path phenomenon was also something new for me, but luckily I see it more and more with us. For about twenty years cycling has also become a normal mode of transport for us and I always take a bicycle with me on the bus when I go on tour. I also really enjoy cycling past bed and breakfasts. That is quite difficult as a celebrity. So I put on a hat or cover my white lock of hair in some other way so as not to be recognized.
I have also been riding an e-bike for a year now. I always looked down on that, but since I have problems with my knee, that’s quite a godsend. My brother gave me such a real Pedelec and I really like it. Nice racing, in an hour from Golden Gate Park to the ocean and back again.”
CV BONNIE RAITT
November 8, 1949 Born in Burbank, California.
1957 First Stella guitar, teaches herself to play.
1967 Studied African Studies at Harvard’s Radcliffe College.
1970 First band Revolutionary Music Collective.
1971 Debut album Bonnie Raitt is released by Warner Bros.
1972 Most acclaimed album Give It Up in the Netherlands is released.
1977 Attracts public attention with cover of Del Shannon’s Runaway.
1979 Together with Jackson Browne and Bruce Springsteen among others at concert/film No Nukes.
1989 International breakthrough with first album for Capitol, Nick of Time.
2012Slipstream, first album for own label Redwing Records.
2022Just Like That… First album in six years will be released on April 22.
Translated from Dutch. Apologies for any grammatical errors.
De Volkskrant is a daily Dutch quality newspaper, since 1921.
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.
‘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”).
‘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.
‘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.
‘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.
‘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.
‘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.
‘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.
‘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.
‘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.
‘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.
‘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.
‘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.
‘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.
‘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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With a set list that covered her 51-year career and ranged from ballads to blues to countrified rock, Bonnie Raitt was a definite crowd-pleaser at her September 22 show at the Santa Barbara Bowl. Yes, Raitt’s first album came out in 1971, and she’s been hitting the Bowl stage every few years since 1977.
It did feel a bit like a reunion night at the beautiful amphitheater — I saw my first Bonnie Raitt show there in 1992, and I feel pretty certain that many of the people in the audience last week were there back then, including several of my parents’ pals popping up in the audience. Bonnie’s famous friends were there too, including Hale Milgrim, David Crosby and — in the front row — an agelessly spry Chubby Checker (“There’s no puberty in my life without Chubby Checker,” said Raitt), who friends say celebrated his 81st birthday at a private party the next night at SOhO.
Playing a mix of old songs and very, very new material from her 2022 album Just Like That… (a title that always makes me think of Sex and the City, but there’s certainly no obvious connection), Raitt’s heartfelt ballads were definitely the standouts for me. “I Can’t Make You Love Me,” sounded as sweetly sad as it did as the ultimate heartbreak song when it came out in 1991. And a beautiful, deeply emotional, and personal version of her dear friend and collaborator John Prine’s “Angel from Montgomery” is still pleasantly stuck in my head a few days later. So is her introduction of the 1971 classic tune (“I’ve sung this song for so many reasons and for so many decades”) with a dedication to Prine, who died in April 2020 from complications due to COVID.
Her 2022 song “Livin’ for the Ones” — co-written with her longtime guitarist George Marinelli — was a more rocking riff on the theme of loss. As she said, “Putting powerful emotions into songs like this is the best remedy I know. Here’s to living for the ones who are no longer with us.”
And ever the crowd pleasers, Raitt and her band — Marinelli on guitar, bassist James “Hutch” Hutchinson, drummer Ricky Fataar, Glenn Patscha on keyboards and backing vocals, and guitarist Kenny Greenberg — played no shortage of familiar favorites like “Not the Only One,” “Love Sneakin’ Up on You,” “Nick of Time,” and “Something to Talk About” — which fans happily sang and bopped along to. My favorite of the older tunes was “Have a Heart,” where Raitt showed off her considerable guitar chops, as well as her still-stunning vocals.
At a time in her life when she could still easily be resting on her laurels, it was great to see Bonnie Raitt out there giving it her all and still doing what she does best.
Messages shared by James “Hutch” Hutchinson (#brbassman)
Bonnie Raitt and Mavis Staples Roar Through a Heroines’ Double-Header at the Greek
If the planet was under threat of annihilation from beyond, and we had to present our divine or interplanetary overlords with just two musical emissaries to make a case that humankind is worth being spared as a species, Bonnie Raitt and Mavis Staples might be the couple we’d want to pick. Fortunately, with no such emergency yet in sight, they’ve managed to pair up of their own volition for a segment of Raitt’s current headlining tour that makes for a two-sided portrait of what heart, soul and understated heroism look like in music.
Not that those kinds of superlatives showed up anywhere but in the subtext of Saturday night’s show at the Greek Theatre in L.A. It was a show where you could think about what Staples meant during the civil rights movement, and since, or about Raitt’s role as a warrior without uniform in the early days of women fighting to get their due in rock. Or you could just enjoy the chops and grease that feed into the respective performances of historically significant figures who wear their mantles as lightly as anything else they’d need to peel off upon stepping into a humid roadhouse.
“It feels like a club in here,” said Raitt, a few numbers into a 90-minute set on an unusually sweaty first-week-of-fall evening. She did also stop later on to momentarily admire the full house at the Greek — not as a verification of her own queenliness, but a signpost of her ability to finally be back, after quarantine, where she feels she most belongs: on a bus.
Raitt’s set was heavy with five songs from her latest album, “Just Like That…,” with the front-loading of new material including three of the first four numbers — all in a musically familiar enough vein that there likely wasn’t much balking from an audience that knew she’d get to “Nick of Time” more than in the nick of time. She made a point of earmarking the topical resonance of some of the newer songs, introducing “Livin’ for the Ones” by its fuller, extended title, “Livin’ for the Ones That Didn’t Make It,” to make sure the themes of loss and gratitude didn’t get lost. Before she inevitably got to “Angel From Montgomery,” a song she said she hadn’t been sure she’d be able to get through on this first tour since the death of its writer, John Prine, she introduced a new song of her own penmanship, the “Just Like That” title track, as something she had tried to write in the vein of a classic Prine song. “Waitin’ for You to Blow” was explained as a lyric about the demon that sits on the shoulder of those in recovery, harking back to the days when she was first writing about being in recovery herself, more than three decades ago.
Setting up some of the choicer classics, Raitt would pause to add a tart or sentimental note — or sometimes both, as when she intro-ed the title track of 1989’s career-revivifying, Grammy-hoarding “Nick of Time” album. She noted that the woman who inspired the first verse, childless at the time, was in attendance with her grown-up miracle baby. But she also established that at least part of the song was about her, when she quipped, “Remember when we were afraid to turn 40?” Bringing it back from the joke, she added: “We’re not scared now.” Bringing mortality into it is not something Raitt shies away from, in any case: “No Business,” a John Hiatt cover (taking the place of his more familiar “Thing Called Love” in the setlist), came with not just a shout-out to producer Don Was but one of the ones that didn’t make it, that particular Capitol-era album’s late engineer, Ed Cherney.
It’s long been the case that two Raitts don’t make a wrong, and the two iconic iterations that we got of her in the Greek performance both proved as worth of veneration as they’ve always been. There’s the heartbreaker Bonnie, waiting to deliver “I Can’t Make You Love Me” until seated on a stool for the encore because there’s not much that can follow it. (Anyone who harbored any doubts about whether she’d still be in prime vocal form for her showcase ballads, into her early 70s, likely would not have spent much time thinking about how her powerhouse father, John Raitt, sang creditably into his 90s.)
And there’s slide-guitar hero Bonnie — a player who might merit a place in rock’s Hall of Fame if all she’d ever done was act as somebody else’s lead guitarist, without ever singing a lick of lead vocals herself. Raitt played slide more as an undertow during the opening number, the new “Made Up Mind,” then set it down for the second song, before declaring, “No more Mrs. Nice Guy — give me that Strat,” as she went into the third with full intentions of giving that instrument its own follow-spot from then on. Her instrument was also part of a guitar army at times, especially as she lined up in a row with George Marinelli (a longtime cohort who’s joining her band on select dates) and regular tour guitarist Duke Levine on “Livin’ for the Ones,” which co-writer Marinelli seems to have originally fashioned as a pure Stones workout before Raitt added her poignant lyrics.
Raitt has been mixing up the setlists a little on this tour (which, as she noted, is just getting underway and extends into 2023). So has Staples — on any given night, there’s at least a faint chance she will cover Talking Heads’ “Slippery People” and Raitt will end her set with “Burning Down the House.” Neither of those Heads songs popped up Saturday, with the headliner preferring to end the pre-encore portion instead with a medley of Chaka Khan and Rufus’ “You Got the Love” and her own “Love Sneakin’ Up on You.”
With 50 years of touring under her belt, there’s not much about Raitt that counts as a sneak attack at this point, but the sellout status of the Greek speaks to how she’s one of the most reliable artists we’ve known over that half-century — and maybe the one we can most certainly count on to reassure us that we do (to cite another classic performed) “have a heart.”
Raitt didn’t inject a lot of politics into her set, beyond pointing out the presence of a Ukrainian flag draped across the front of Ricky Fataar’s drum riser (“They’re going to need a lot more of our help,” she said, predicting a more heightened refugee crisis to come”). With HeadCount on site to register voters, it may not take a lot of effort to suss where the singer stands on certain key issues. Staples had already cited a fair amount of current events in her opening performance, anyway, as in “This Is My Country,” she added a spoken-word segment that began with “I’m not too proud right now…” What is Staples fired up about? The Supreme Court reversing women’s rights, politicians toying with migrants for publicity (“They got babies!”), and limitations being put on voter options in minority areas. Out in the lobby, “Mavis for President” buttons were on sale on the merch booth, although, sadly, there are no signs yet of a Staples PAC.
Aside from that fleeting recognition that, yes, everything is going to hell, Staples’ set was a 50-minute joyful noise, full of the secular gospel that fueled the family’s career in the ’60s and has carried through to the solo renaissance that got seriously underway for her in the mid-2000s. Her material with and without the family veered from religious uplift to social uplift, where it has almost entirely stayed, and she is as great an emblem of social justice-as-joy as America has had for the last 74 years — the exact figure she put on exactly how long the Staples have been “taking you there.”
But there has been one very sexy number that slipped through in the Staple Singers’ catalog of classics, “Let’s Do It Again,” written by Curtis Mayfield for the sisters in 1976. (We didn’t have to look that one up because Staples sometimes provided the dates herself. “Curtis Mayfield! 1976!… We gonna take you, 1971!”) She played the sauciness of “Let’s Do It Again” for all it was worth in some amusingly extended call-and-response with her band leader, Rick Holmstrom, before putting a stop to it. “All right, I got enough,” she quipped, taking a seat before the grand finale. “I’m getting too up in age for this.” Not to worry; “let’s do it a little” is a fine modification for a performer who’s earned the right to race herself and then pace herself. Up to that possibly theatrical rest stop, and again for the finale, Staples was racing like the thoroughbred she still is.
“I don’t know if any teenyboppers are out there?” Staples asked at one point. “Because teenyboppers, they come out to see what us old folk are doing, and we love them — we learn from them teenyboppers. You out there, teenyboppers?” Parts of the crowd screamed in response, and if that was a baldfaced lie, maybe it was an excusable one on a night so otherwise hallmarked by the blues and the not-too-abstract truth.
Bonnie Raitt And Special Guest Mavis Staples Pack L.A.’s Greek Theater
‘Variety’ called the show ‘a two-sided portrait of what heart, soul and understated heroism look like in music.’
Bonnie Raitt’s …Just Like That tour arrived in Hollywood on Saturday (24) at the Greek Theater, for her penultimate show with special guest Mavis Staples. Raitt’s 90-minute set included a generous selection of material from the 2022 album that gives the tour its name, as well as plenty of favorites from her distinguished songbook.
Highlights included her signature interpretation of John Prine’s “Angel From Montgomery,” which Raitt told the audience she wasn’t sure she would be able to get through on this tour, in the wake of her friend’s death in 2020. She also shared such fixtures as “Nick Of Time” and “I Can’t Make You Love Me,” covers of John Hiatt’s “No Business,” INXS’ “Need You Tonight,” and Paul Brady’s “Not The Only One,” before a closing “Longing In Their Hearts.”
Musing on the respective credentials, both as artists and as spokespeople for social change, Chris Willman’s review of the show for Variety called it “a two-sided portrait of what heart, soul and understated heroism look like in music…it was a show where you could think about what Staples meant during the civil rights movement, and since, or about Raitt’s role as a warrior without uniform in the early days of women fighting to get their due in rock.
“Or you could just enjoy the chops and grease that feed into the respective performances of historically significant figures who wear their mantles as lightly as anything else they’d need to peel off upon stepping into a humid roadhouse.”
In her own 50-minute set, Staples sang “This Is My Country,” the opening track (which on the record features the late Levon Helm) from her current album Carry Me Home. She also delved into her rich history with the Staple Singers, notably for the anthemic “I’ll Take You There” and for the Curtis Mayfield song “Let’s Do It Again.”
Raitt and Staples have one more show together in this double bill, tomorrow night (27) at the Rady Shell at Jacobs Park in San Diego, before Raitt continues her itinerary with special guest Marc Cohn on Friday in Tempe, Arizona. Dates stretch until November 19.
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.
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.”
Jazz and blues fests are everywhere now, and Americana is going strong on college radio. What I'm hearing is an appreciation of real music.
I speak my mind and come from a place of conscience, as well as have fun as a musician.
I don't know if I'm a heroine; I'm just somebody that can cheer the troops by singing to folks, and have receptions after the show, and tithe a dollar of every ticket sale for all kinds of different great charities and social action groups.
Quakers are known for wanting to give back. Ban the bomb and the civil rights movement and the native American struggle for justice - those things were very, very front-burner in my childhood, as were the ideas of working for peace and if you have more than you need, then you share it with people who don't.
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.
I think my fans will follow me into our combined old age. Real musicians and real fans stay together for a long, long time.
I grew up in Los Angeles in a Quaker family, and for me being Quaker was a political calling rather than a religious one.
I just play the music that I love with musicians that I respect, and fortunately, I'm in a position where people are willing to play with me, and perhaps I can do something to help them.
I never saw music in terms of men and women or black and white. There was just cool and uncool.
Solar power is the last energy resource that isn't owned yet - nobody taxes the sun yet.
Religion is for those who are scared of hell, and spirituality is for those who have been there.
Life gets mighty precious when there's less of it to waste.
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Broken Hearts & Dirty Windows: Songs of John Prine, Vol. 2, the anticipated new John Prine tribute record from Oh Boy Records, is out today. Stream/purchase HERE.
Created as a celebration of Prine’s life and career, the album features new renditions of some of Prine’s most beloved songs performed by Brandi Carlile (“I Remember Everything”), Tyler Childers (“Yes I Guess They Oughta Name A Drink After You”), Iris DeMent (“One Red Rose”), Emmylou Harris (“Hello In There”), Jason Isbell (“Souvenirs”), Valerie June (“Summer’s End”), Margo Price (“Sweet Revenge”), Bonnie Raitt (“Angel From Montgomery”), Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats (“Pretty Good”), Amanda Shires (“Saddle in the Rain”), Sturgill Simpson(“Paradise”) and John Paul White (“Sam Stone”). Proceeds from the album will benefit twelve different non-profit organizations, one selected by each of the featured artists.
Bonnie Raitt - Write Me a Few of Your Lines/Kokomo Blues
60 years anniversary celebration of Arhoolie
December 10, 2020
Arhoolie Foundation celebrates it's 60th anniversary (1960-2020) with an online broadcast.
Bonnie Raitt - Shadow of Doubt
Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival
October 3, 2020
Hardly Strictly Bluegrass celebrates it's 20th anniversary with an online broadcast titled “Let The Music Play On”.
Bonnie Raitt & Boz Scaggs - You Don't Know Like I Know
Farm Aid 2020 On the Road
Sam & Dave classic written by Isaac Hayes and David Porter.
Sheryl Crow & Bonnie Raitt - Everything Is Broken
[Eric Clapton’s Crossroads 2019]
Eric Clapton, one of the world’s pre-eminent blues/rock guitarists, once again summoned an all-star team of six-string heroes for his fifth Crossroads Guitar Festival in 2019. Held at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas, the two-day concert event raised funds for the Crossroads Centre in Antigua, the chemical dependency treatment and education facility that Clapton founded in 1998.
'A Tribute To Mose Allison'
Celebrates The Music Of An Exciting Jazz Master
Raitt contributed to a new album, If You're Going To The City: A Tribute To Mose Allison, which celebrates the late singer and pianist, who famously blended the rough-edged blues of the Mississippi Delta with the 1950s jazz of New York City.
NPR's Lulu Garcia-Navarro talks to Bonnie Raitt about her friendship with the Mose Allison. They're also joined by Amy Allison — his daughter, who executive produced the album — about selecting an unexpected list of artists to contribute songs to the album.
Recorded on tour June 3, 2017 - Centennial Hall, London - Ontario Canada