Bonnie's Pride and Joy

Fansite with ALL the news about Bonnie !

How Bonnie Raitt Overcame Loss for Her First LP of New Songs in a Decade

“I needed to take some time to sit down and fall apart,” singer-songwriter says

on February 26, 2016 No comments
RS-Logo-180x180
By Patrick Doyle
RollingStoneUSA10March2016

“I love that double-time shit!” says Bonnie Raitt, grinning behind a piano. The singer-guitarist has just led her longtime band through a furious impromptu take on Ray Charles’ “Mess Around.” Raitt, 66, has a reputation as a tenacious perfectionist, but today at her rehearsal studio in North Hollywood, she’s loose and mischievous. At one point, she sets aside a sheet of lyrics for a new ballad to prove she doesn’t need them – but then breaks up laughing when she can’t remember the first line. “So much for losing the training wheels!” she says.

After practice, Raitt heads down a hallway deeper into the studio; there’s a chore she’s been meaning to get around to. Her guitar tech opens a big, musty locker packed with old instruments. “This is over 30 years of people laying guitars on us,” she says. She opens a case to reveal an acoustic Jackson Browne gave her, and another containing a guitar that belonged to songwriter Stephen Bruton, a close friend who died in 2009. “I’d been meaning to go through these for years and figure out whether to give them to charity, or what,” she says. “But then I moved away and my family got sick.”
Raitt is referring to a painful time that began with the deaths of her parents (she lost her mother in 2004, her father a year later); in 2009, her brother died after an eight-year battle with brain cancer.

“I was really depleted,” she says. “You go back and relive your relationships with those people, and when there’s multiple losses and illnesses, it can be almost overwhelming.”

After her brother’s death, Raitt, who tours year-round and plans her career in five-year stretches, told her band she was taking a year off. She started seeing a grief counselor and, for the first time since she hit the road in 1970, watched all four seasons change in her Marin County backyard.
“I needed to take some time to sit down and fall apart,” she says. That reflective period – and the joy she found when she returned to the road in 2011 – shaped Raitt’s new album, Dig in Deep, her first LP with newly written songs in more than a decade. “I have always felt so sorry that I couldn’t be a better this or that for my family members,” she says. “And I know they were probably just as sorry I couldn’t be what they would’ve liked me to be.”

Raitt has lived in Northern California since 1991, but she feels at home in L.A. She grew up on Mulholland Drive, not far from her rehearsal space, the daughter of actor John Raitt, who had lead roles in Carousel and Oklahoma! during the golden age of Broadway in the 1940s and 1950s. She fondly recalls hour-and-a-half school bus rides through the San Fernando Valley and attending Quaker meetings with her parents, whose love of music and social justice helped draw her to the blues: “It became an anomaly when I was 18 or 19 – people would say, ‘Isn’t this odd that a little redheaded daughter of a Broadway singer from Los Angeles is playing Robert Johnson songs?'”

Raitt kicks back on a worn-in couch with a
 piece of double-chocolate
 cake, which she ordered for her bassist’s birthday. “Mmm, tastes like gluten!” she says, eating it straight
 off a napkin. Someone mentions that the Rolling Stones are rehearsing nearby, and Raitt recalls how she took a semester off from Harvard to tag along on the Stones’ 1970 European tour (Raitt was dating the manager of opening act Buddy Guy). She missed class registration on the road, and her parents, angry, stopped supporting her. “That’s why I started playing,” she says. “I had to make a living. I’ve got the Stones to thank for it!” At 23, she landed back in Laurel Canyon, becoming a regular on the L.A. club scene with friends like Tom Waits and Little Feat. “We all sang and played on each other’s records and hung out, dated each other,” she recalls. “We’d start at the Troubadour and then go to somebody’s house to keep the party running.”

Raitt performs in Los Angeles in 1975. © Barry Schultz/Sunshine/ZUMA Press
Raitt performs in Los Angeles in 1975. © Barry Schultz /Sunshine/ZUMA Press

Raitt is approaching her 30th year of sobriety. She started attending AA meetings in the mid-Eighties after losing her deal with longtime label Warner Bros. and going through a difficult breakup. Her first “sober album,” 1989’s Nick of Time, was a multiplatinum success that won her three Grammys. “I remember the change in her when she stopped drinking,” says Browne. “It was like she just flipped a switch and this power happened in her.”

Raitt is still a big draw on what she calls “the Americana circuit.” She adds, “My end of the music business doesn’t rely so much on looks. It allows you to age more gracefully than the mainstream pop stars that are total babes. People are snarkier about them getting older. It’s just terrible. So I’m actually relieved that I’m in the character actress end of the world, where I can just get more seasoned and people go, ‘Oh, well, look how mythical she’s become!'”

Most days, at home, Raitt spends mornings hiking with friends, and then works from her home office with a staff of four. She has touring down to a science, looking online for hotel deals and doing her laundry at theaters with washers and dryers. Today, she’s wearing motorcycle boots with zippers – she doesn’t ride, but they’re easier to get off at airport security. Raitt’s tour dates often include benefits for progressive causes, like safe energy and campaign-finance reform. She also finds time for the romantic relationship she’s been in for more than a decade, her longest since her eight-year marriage to actor Michael O’Keefe ended in 1999. “It’s not a joined-at-the-hip relationship,” she says. “I like my independence. I have a full life.”

In March, she’ll begin a two-year tour. She’s already planning daytime adventures like seeing music at New Orleans Jazz Fest and exploring old railroad tracks that have been converted to bike paths along the East Coast.

“They’re usually under a canopy of trees or along a river, so it’s really beautiful,” she says, smiling. “You get to see a lot more when you’re up in the daytime.”

From The Archives Issue 1256: March 10, 2016

Source: © Copyright Rolling Stone
0 0 votes
Article Rating
Share this post:
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Bonnie's Pride and Joy on Facebook

Comments Box SVG iconsUsed for the like, share, comment, and reaction icons

Farm Aid 2021 – September 25 in Hartford, Connecticut ... See MoreSee Less

2 weeks ago
Video image

Comment on Facebook

LARGEST TREE IN THE WORLD

Location : Giant Forest of Sequoia National Park in Tulare County, California, USA.
The General Sherman Tree is the world's largest tree, measured by volume. It stands 275 feet (83 m) tall, and is over 36 feet (11 m) in diameter at the base. Sequoia trunks remain wide high up. Sixty feet above the base, the Sherman Tree is 17.5 feet (5.3 m) in diameter.

It is estimated to be around 2,300 to 2,700 years old.
... See MoreSee Less

3 weeks ago

Timeline PhotosStanding watch over the Sierra forests for thousands of years, the giant sequoias are yet another awe-inspiring sight to behold in Yosemite Mariposa County! 📷 by @colbyoutdoors

📰 | ow.ly/HgB650FdU6V (how to visit Yosemite the summer)

#YosemiteNation Visit Gold Country Visit California California High Sierra
... See MoreSee Less

1 month ago

Timeline PhotosRed Lake Treaty Camp is calling for urgent help. They woke up to movement as their digging getting closer to the river.

“We need people to Red Lake Camp. The equipment they moved yesterday is now moving and working on the side near the river. We need water protectors to come stand in solidarity with us to protect the water and our treaties.”

Riverside Cemetary thief river falls is best GPS coordinates to follow on maps.

11750 MN-32, Thief River Falls, MN 56701, USA
maps.google.com/maps?q=48.04091764200594%2C-96.20955593883991
... See MoreSee Less

2 months ago

2021 Blues Foundation Hart Fund Benefit ... See MoreSee Less

2 months ago
Video image

Comment on Facebook

What Makes This Singer Great? Bonnie Raitt ... See MoreSee Less

2 months ago
Video image

Comment on Facebook

Load more

Recommended Reading

Falling in love with Bonnie Raitt for the first time

Falling in love with Bonnie Raitt for the first time

November 10, 1971

Chris Stapleton, Bonnie Raitt Helm B.B. King Grammy Tribute

February 16, 2016

Jerry Garcia Band with Bonnie Raitt, Berkeley Greek 8.30.1987

September 1, 1987

CMT Crossroads Bonnie Raitt and Lyle Lovett – The Factory – Franklin – TN

December 15, 2005

Norton Buffalo Dies

November 1, 2009

Bonnie Raitt’s Blues

November 9, 2015
Will McFarlane

Talking with Guitarist Songwriter Will McFarlane

November 2, 2009

Stephen Bruton one of Austin’s best guitar players passes away

May 9, 2009

Bonnie Raitt attends the 25th Anniversary Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Concert at MSG – NY

October 30, 2009

Review: James Taylor, Bonnie Raitt deliver summer night delight at DTE

August 9, 2017