John Prine is being inducted into the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame
At the 50th annual Songwriters Hall of Fame induction ceremony last night, two of its newest honorees, John Prine and Justin Timberlake, both of different generations, described the common bond that drives songwriters to write, and the emotional satisfaction that overcomes them when a song is finished.
Prine, the legendary folk singer whom presenter and long-time friend Bonnie Raitt called “our own Mark Twain, our Woody, our Will Rogers,” succinctly stated “I gotta say, there’s no better feeling than having a killer song in your pocket and you’re the only one in the world who’s heard it.”
Bonnie Raitt congratulates John Prine just before inducting him into the Songwriter's Hall of Fame
The multi-talented Timberlake discussed how important it is to create music with other co-writers who share the same hard-work ethic needed in finishing a song, no matter how difficult the task may be. “You’re doing therapy with somebody you just met. If you did that on the subway they would say ‘that bitch is crazy!’ he joked. “There’s always that one line in the song where you’re like ‘if we could just get that one line that leads into the chorus.’ You bond over that shared level of tenacity. And then every time you hear that song later on, you get to remember the moment you had that breakthrough. When people hear it for the first time, they just hear it. But you get to go back and have all those memories.”
Mark Zaleski/AP/REX/Shutterstock / Jeffrey Davy/REX/Shutterstock
I am so saddened by the loss of our beloved Queen of Soul, Aretha. She has always been my favorite and the greatest singer I’ve ever heard. Along with Ray Charles, she has been the most influential artist in my life. She brought the raw passion and beauty of gospel and the deepest blues, irrepressible rhythm to every note she sang. In songs like “I Never Loved A Man,” “Dr. Feelgood,” “R-E-S-P-E-C-T,” “Natural Woman,” “Ain’t No Way” — I learned as a teenager most of what I still know about men, love, strength and vulnerability in the face of loss and betrayal; about the deep well of spirit and surrender to a higher purpose, including standing up for oneself and demanding respect.
Her phrasing, both vocally and in her great piano playing, set her above almost all others for me. And let us not forget to acknowledge the incredible team of songwriters, musicians, engineers and producers who helped bring out the genius and soul in this remarkable woman.
She gave us the raw power and dimension of what a real, ‘natural’ woman could be. In the ups and downs of her life, in the way she buckled and came back again and again. All the pain, longing, lust, rage and tenderness will always be there in her voice for us to treasure and remain in awe for all time.
I will continue to honor and be eternally grateful for the gift she gave us for these many years. May she rest and be reunited with her beloved family in eternal peace. God bless and thank you, dear Aretha. You will always be our Queen of Soul.
“I loved everything about her,” Raitt told Rolling Stone in 2003. “I loved the way she looked, I loved the ache in her heart, and her sass.”
So Raitt was blown away when she was invited to perform with Franklin at a 1993 AIDS benefit concert, which was aired on Fox. Joined by Gloria Estefan, they delivered a fierce version of “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman.” “I’ll never forget – she touched my shoulder while singing,” Raitt said. “Looking out at the pouring rain. I almost fell off the stool.” The three women later recorded the song for Jewels in the Crown: All-Star Duets With the Queen, a 2007 tribute album to Franklin.
Raitt had a clear memory of laying eyes on the mysterious singer at rehearsal the day before the show: “She just had day clothes on, her nails weren’t done, her hair wasn’t done all up. She had a mike in one hand, and she was eating a cheeseburger with the other. The rest of us were waiting to see what outfit she’d be in, because she’s quite the diva, you know. Yet she was cool enough to be filmed in the ‘natch. She comes out of a tradition of great singers when you didn’t have to look like you were on Baywatch.”
Aretha Franklyn, Bonnie Raitt & Gloria Estefan - (You Make Me Feel) Like A Natural Woman
“I can never believe this is happening. You know, it doesn’t get any better than Aretha Franklin,” Raitt said onstage that night. “I grew up wearing out 45s of “Respect,” “Chain of Fools,” “I Never Loved a Man” … “Since You’ve Been Gone” has always been one of my all-time favorites, and it is the thrill of my lifetime to be here to sing it with her tonight.”
“Since You’ve Been Gone” is a single from Franklin’s 1968 Lady Soul album. It peaked on the Billboard Hot 100 at No. 5, where it stayed for five weeks; it also spent three weeks at No. 1 on the R&B Singles chart.
According to theNew York Times, Franklin and Raitt’s duet was part of an April ’93 tribute concert — dubbed “Aretha Franklin: Duets” — at New York City’s Nederland Theater. The event, a benefit for the AIDS service organization Gay Men’s Health Crisis, was taped for broadcast on Fox in May of that same year. In addition to Raitt, the show featured, among others, Smokey Robinson and Elton John.
Aretha Franklin and Bonnie Raitt - Since You've Been Gone (4-21-1993)
Franklin, known as the “Queen of Soul,” died on Thursday (Aug. 16) at her home in Detroit, Mich., according to her publicist. She was 76 and was reported to be “gravely ill” earlier in the week. The first woman to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Franklin charted more than 100 singles on Billboard‘s charts and won 18 Grammy Awards. Her iconic songs include “Respect,” “Think” and many more.
As any concertgoer who has watched James Taylor perform at Tanglewood over the course of his four-decade relationship with the venue may know all too well, it isn’t truly summer in the Berkshires until “JT” comes to town.
The renowned singer, songwriter and arguably the Berkshires’ most vocal fan returned to Tanglewood’s Koussevitzky Music Shed on Monday and Tuesday night for what has developed into an annual tradition, with a pair of Fouth of July shows offering up his biggest hits alongside new surprises.
Appearing onstage with his customary newsboy cap, Taylor would lead concertgoers on a two-hour journey across a half century-long discography while wearing many different hats at once – both figuratively and literally.
Taylor would kick off his July 4 show with the cap tipped slightly forward, sitting on a stool at the front and center of the stage for a rendition of the Star Spangled Banner before easing his way into some of his biggest hits, including “Carolina In My Mind” and “Country Road.”
With his longtime “All Star” band in tow – featuring a list of A-list session musicians such as drummer Steve Gadd and guitarist Michael Landau alongside longtime fan-favorites Lou Marini on saxophone and Arnold McCuller on backing vocals – Taylor would gradually evolve from guitarist to bandleader over the course of his first hour-long set, a role the visibly grateful singer welcomed with open arms.
Songs such as “First of May” and “October Road” would find Taylor’s typically gentle acoustic guitar taking a back seat to deliciously dynamic rhythmic interplay between Gadd and percussionist Luis Conte while solos courtesy of Landau and others would find Taylor taking his hat off entirely to “cool off” his bandmates, each of whom Taylor gave ample amounts of spotlight during the show.
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