‘Just Like That’ Bonnie Raitt strikes a blow for the solo songwriter

on February 12, 2023 No comments
By James Beaty | Managing editor

Bonnie Raitt sat up straight with her mouth agape in surprise when she heard her name announced as winner of the Song of the Year Award at the 65th Annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles.

She looked as if the honor came totally unexpected, even though her song “Just Like That” has elicited an emotional response from many who’ve heard it — and “Just Like That,” Raitt struck a blow for the solo songwriter.

I think Raitt’s surprise came not because she lacked confidence in the quality of her song, but more likely because of the slate of her fellow nominees in the Grammy’s Song of the Year category. It included nominated songs from artists such as Taylor Swift, Beyoncé, Adele, Kendrick LaMar and Lizzo.

Also nominated in the category were Harry Styles, Gayle, Steve Lacy and the combo of DJ Khaled Featuring Rick Ross, Lil Wayne, Jay-Z, John Legend and the rapper Friday.

If Raitt seemed surprised, her win proved a popular choice, at least from those in attendance at the Grammy Awards last Sunday, judging from the two standing ovations they gave her — the first as she made her way onstage to accept the award and the second after she addressed the audience with a brief acceptance speech.

“I’m so surprised; I don’t know what to say,” Raitt said as the camera cut to a smiling Taylor Swift. Lizzo too proved to be a good sport, flashing a good-natured smile as Raitt accepted the award.

“This is just an unreal moment,” Raitt said. “Thank you for honoring me, the only academy that surrounds me with so much support and appreciates the art of songwriting as I do.”

She told how she felt inspired to write the song as a tribute to the works of the late John Prine.

“People have been responding to the song partly because of how much I love, and we all love, John Prine and that was the inspiration for the music of this song and telling the story from the inside,” Raitt said.

She also gave a nod to other songwriters.

“I would not be here tonight if it wasn’t for the hardworking people” who put their ideas and stories to music, Raitt said.

Although Raitt is a renowned electric blues guitarist and bottleneck player, on “Just Like That” she fingerpicks an acoustic guitar, much like Prine did on many of his songs. That’s a remarkable change from the over-the-top production on recordings by nominees in some of the other categories.

“Just Like That” is a story song, about an older woman who sees a car circle her block until it stops in front of her house and a young man steps out of it and approaches her front door. The first time I heard “Just Like That,” I thought I had the storyline figured out about halfway through the song — then the lyrics took an unexpected turn I hadn’t seen coming.

I won’t insert a spoiler here for those who many not have heard the song, but it’s definitely well-worth searching out for a listen. Suffice to say, it’s not easily forgotten.

Raitt picked up two more Grammys for a total of three during the awards ceremony. They included another win for “Just Like That” for Best Americana Roots Song and she also won the Best Americana Performance Award for her song “Made Up Mind.”

The Song of the Year Grammy Award is to honor songwriters.

Out of the 10 songs nominated for Song of the Year, Raitt’s was the only one written by a solo writer. One of the nominated songs credits 10 different people as writers of the song.

After Raitt won the Song of the Year Award, some — not the other nominees — took to social media and criticized the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences for awarding the Song of the Year Grammy Award to such a “little-known artist.”


Raitt is hardly a stranger to the Grammy Awards. She’s now won 13 Grammys, in categories with competitive nominations, along with her Lifetime Achievement Award in 2022.

She picked up her first Grammy Awards in 1990 for her now-classic album “Nick of Time.” The album brought her three awards, including Album of the Year and Best Female Rock Vocal Performance.

She and bluesman John Lee Hooker even won a 1990 Grammy for Best Traditional Blues Recording for their duet “I’m in the Mood” from Hooker’s album, “The Healer.”

More Grammy Awards followed in 1991, when Raitt released her album “Luck of the Draw.” She won two more Grammys in 1994 when she released her album “Longing in Their Hearts.” Other honors have come her way as well.

Raitt is the first female guitarist to have her own Fender Signature Artists guitar line. It’s a Fender Stratocaster with a body made of light ash, with a maple neck and rosewood fretboard, with a special narrow C neck, in production from 1995-2001.

Even those first Grammy Awards came after Raitt had been pursuing her professional career for a couple of decades. She recorded her first album, simply titled “Bonnie Raitt” in 1971 at the age of 21 — and she soon came to be considered one of the best bottleneck blues guitarists around. She didn’t score her first single hit record until 1977 with a track from her album “Sweet Forgiveness” — when she did a bluesy remake of Del Shannon’s “Runaway.”

Raitt has always been a generous performer — both onstage and off. Onstage, she’s collaborated or performed alongside a number of fellow artists during her career. She even joined fellow singers Jennifer Warnes and k.d. lang to serve as a trio of background female vocalists for the great Roy Orbison when he recorded his special “Roy Orbison and Friends: A Black and White Night.”

Offstage, Raitt’s been involved in a variety of causes, including honoring her mentors and those whose music inspired her along the way — even if she never met them in-person.

Working with the Mount Zion Memorial Fund, she helped fund a memorial headstone for “Mississippi Fred McDowell” — probably best-known for writing the blues-based standard “You’ve Got to Move,” covered by a myriad of artists, including the Rolling Stones.

Raitt’s Grammy Award for Song of the Year last Sunday night did more than spotlight a great song.

It also proved once again that some of the best songs can still be written by an artist working alone to share a piece of his or her soul — and not by a committee banding their resources together to try and write a hit, often by including elements and buzzwords that worked for the hit that preceded it.

Sure, lots of great rock songwriters have written as teams: Lennon and McCartney, Jagger and Richards, etc. — but having 10 people credited as a songwriter? I’m sure they deserved it if they all contributed, but it does seem more like writing by committee than by inspiration.

With “Just Like That” Raitt proved the solitary writer can still be a force when it comes to the art of songwriting.

Contact James Beaty at

Source: © Copyright McAlester News-Capital

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10 Legendary Albums You Didn’t Know Feature Bonnie Raitt

on February 11, 2023 No comments
by Alli Patton

Even before Bonnie Raitt took home the Grammy for Song of the Year on Feb. 5, she was a decades-long hitmaker. And before that, she was an in-demand session musician, collaborating with other artists on their own hits.

Raitt had her hand in many projects across throughout her career, from Little Feat and James Taylor to Willie Nelson and Jackson Brown. Here we will dive into 10 legendary albums you didn’t know featured the “Something to Talk About” singer.

1. Dixie ChickenLittle Feat

Raitt lends her voice to Little Feat’s 1973 album, Dixie Chicken. Her husky wail can also be heard on several of the rock band’s other releases like Feats Don’t Fail Me Now, Down on the Farm, Let It Roll, and many more.


2. The Missing YearsJohn Prine

A long-time John Prine collaborator, Raitt is featured on his tenth studio release, The Missing Years. She was featured on the track, “Unlonely,” and provided backing vocals throughout.


3. That’s a PlentyThe Pointer Sisters

Raitt’s voice is not her only talent in demand. She assisted The Pointer Sisters on their 1974 album, That’s a Plenty, playing slide guitar on the tune “Grinning in Your Face.”


4. Warren ZevonWarren Zevon

Raitt provided harmonies to the Warren Zevon song “Join Me in L.A.” for his self-titled sophomore release. Raitt is in good company on the album, sharing credits with the likes of Stevie Nicks, Lindsey Buckingham, Don Henley, Glenn Frey, Jackson Browne, and so many more hitmakers.


5. In the PocketJames Taylor

Raitt appears on another star-studded album, James Taylor’s 1976 LP In the Pocket. She provided backing vocals to the song “Family Man” as other tracks were harmonized by Stevie Wonder, David Crosby, Linda Ronstadt, and several other musical colleagues.


6. BluebirdEmmylou Harris

Emmylou Harris’ 1989 album, Bluebird, saw Raitt’s vocal stylings and her slide guitar skills, especially when it comes to the track “Icy Blue Heart.”


7. The DistanceBob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band

Raitt’s backing vocals elevate Bob Seger’s 1982 album, The Distance. She can be heard on the tune, “Makin’ Thunderbirds.” Glenn Frey also offers vocal assistance to the record.


8. Across the BorderlineWillie Nelson

Raitt duets with Willie Nelson on the song “Getting Over You” from his album Across the Borderline. On harmonies and slide guitar, she’s a force alongside other famed backups featured on the album, like Paul Simon, Bob Dylan, Kris Kristofferson, and even Sinéad O’Connor.


9. Taking the Long WayThe Chicks

Another album in which she’s in good company, The Chick’s Taking the Long Way features Raitt on background vocals, as well as sees assistance from John Mayer and Benmont Tench.


10. For EverymanJackson Browne

Raitt lends her voice to Jackson Brown’s 1973 release, For Everyman. She can be heard on the track, “The Times You’ve Come.” Other guests on the album include David Crosby, Glenn Frey, Elton John, Don Henley, and Joni Mitchell.

Raitt’s musical assistance can be found in other projects of Browne’s, including his album The Pretender.


Source: © Copyright American Songwriter

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Top 10 Bonnie Raitt Songs

on February 10, 2023 No comments
by Tina Benitez-Eves

Bonnie Raitt was born into music on November 8, 1949, in Burbank, California. Growing up with her father, Broadway actor John Raitt, and mother, pianist and singer, Marge Goddard, performing was already in her genes.

By the time she was 8, Raitt was learning to play guitar by listening to the 1950s folk revivalists before transitioning into the blues of Muddy Waters, Elmore James, and Son House, among many others.

Moving to Cambridge, Massachusetts after high school—where she studied social relations and African studies at the Radcliffe College of Harvard University—Raitt soon started hitting the east coast folk and blues scene, playing festivals and cafes before landing her first record deal. Raitt released her self-titled debut in 1971, a collection of some bluesier covers and two tracks she wrote “Thank You” and “Finest Lovin’ Man.”

Throughout the decades, Raitt would continue releasing albums nearly every year, eventually breaking through in 1977 with her cover of Del Shannon’s 1961 hit “Runaway,” off her sixth album, Sweet Forgiveness. By the 1980s, Raitt’s music had already evolved into her own brew of blues, soul, and folk, and little polished pop.

Santa Cruz Blues Festival – May 2015 © Susan J. Weiand /Shore Fire Media

As she struggled with her own drug and alcohol addiction before getting sober in 1987, the end of the ’80s held another breakthrough for Raitt, commercially, when her tenth album, Nick of Time, reached No. 1 on the Billboard 200. Nick of Time also earned Raitt three Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year.

Luck of the Draw in 1991 brought more hits to Raitt with “Something to Talk About” and the ballad “I Can’t Make You Love Me.” In 2000, Raitt was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and continued to hold her place within the charts with her 2002 release, Silver Lining, and her 16th album Slipstream peaking at No. 6 on the charts in 2012, followed by Dig In Deep in 2016.

Several years passed and following the death of her friend, John Prine, during the pandemic, Raitt revisited some tracks she always meant to record and newer ones she wrote, inspired by the great art of Prine’s story songs. Released in 2022, Just Like That… earned Raitt three more Grammys, including Song of the Year for the title track.

Flipping through her extensive catalog spanning more than 50 years, here’s a chronological look at just 10 of Raitt’s best songs from 1972 through 2022.

1. “Love Me Like a Man” (1972)
Written by Chris Smither

Already in her early 20s, Raitt was well beyond her years in love by her second album, Give It Up, in 1972. Though Raitt delivers the bluesy track “Love Me Like A Man” from the perspective of a woman who knows what she wants, the song was written by a man, her then-collaborator and guitarist Chris Smither. “Love Me Like a Man” showed off Raitt’s wailing vocals and guitar licks, naturally channeling some of her heroes like Muddy Waters and Bo Diddley.

Man I’ve been seeing, baby
Got their soul up on a shelf
No, they could never love me
Can’t even love himself

But, I want someone to love me
Baby, I want a one who understands
Who won’t put himself above me
Who can love me like a man

2. “Angel of Montgomery” (1974)
Written by John Prine

“I knew I wanted to cut ‘Angel From Montgomery‘ the minute I heard that song,” revealed Raitt in 2022. The song, first released on John Prine‘s 1971 debut, was later covered by Raitt on her fourth album, Streelights, in 1974. “We played the Philadelphia Folk Festival together, and we toured together in those early days before either one of us had a band,” added Raitt. “He [Prine] loved the way I did ‘Angel.’”

To this day, Raitt regularly has “Angel From Montgomery” on her set list and revealed that the song has shifted in meaning for her throughout the decades.

“Over the years, I’ve sung it for myself, for my mom, for her generation,” added Raitt. “Lately I’ve been singing it for all the women around the world who don’t get to go to school or get out of a bad marriage or wear a short skirt or any of that stuff. The fact he could be so insightful about being in a marriage like that — the dead zone. Especially as a young feminist, I never wanted to get married but that song really nailed it for me.”

If dreams were lightning
And thunder were desire
This old house would’ve burned down
A long time ago

Make me an angel
That flies from Montgomery
Make me a poster
Of an old rodeo
Just give me one thing
That I can hold on to
To believe in this livin’
Is just a hard way to go

Bonnie Raitt shared more on John Prine’s inspiration on songwriting HERE.


3. “Thing Called Love” (1989)
Written by John Hiatt

After a slow-moving decade of releases and hitting rock bottom with her addiction, Raitt returned sober and owned each track on her tenth album, Nick of Time, navigating love as she does best on the more flirtatious “Thing Called Love.” In the music video, Raitt convinced her friend actor and musician Dennis Quaid to play her boyfriend.

“He said yes, and all my fears went away,” said Raitt of Quaid. “Basically I was blushing the whole way, throwin’ it back at him, and he was suckin’ on a toothpick. The combination of all those things made [the album] ‘Nick of Time’ an amazing breakthrough.”

I ain’t some icon carved out of soap
Sent here to clean up your reputation
Baby, you know you ain’t no Prince Charming
We can live in fear or act out of hope
For some kind of peaceful situation
Baby, how come the cry of love is so alarming

4. “Nick of Time” (1989)
Written by Bonnie Raitt

The title track off Raitt’s tenth album Nick of Time was written by Raitt while on a cabin retreat in Mendocino, California. Working remotely, she recorded a demo of the song before taking it to the studio with producer Don Was.

Raitt said the song “came from a part of me that hadn’t yet seen the light of day.” She added, “I wanted to dig deep and honor the changes in my life. Writing it gave me a sense of confidence and self-awareness that helped me break through some stifling self-doubt. While writing the song, instead of comparing myself to greats like Jackson Browne and Randy Newman and then giving up, I was just writing for myself, as a gift for the miracle that had happened.”

The track earned Raitt a Grammy for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance, while the album won Best Female Rock Vocal Performance and Album of the Year.

I see my folks are getting on
And I watch their bodies change
I know they see the same in me
And it makes us both feel strange

No matter how you tell yourself
It’s what we all go through
Those lines are pretty hard to take
When they’re staring back at you

5. “Something to Talk About” (1991)
Written by Shirley Eikhard

Surpassing the success of her previous album, Nick of Time, Raitt returned with her 11th album, Luck of the Draw, and her uptempo hit “Something to Talk About.” Written by Canadian singer-songwriter Shirley Eikhard, the song peaked at No. 5 on the Billboard Hot 100 and became Raitt’s highest-charting song, and her only single to reach the top 10 of that chart.

“Still burning bright,” wrote Raitt in the liner notes of Luck of the Draw, which she dedicated to her friend, the late blues guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughan, who died a year before the release of the album. Vaughan helped convinced Raitt to get sober years earlier.

People are talking, talking ’bout people
I hear them whisper, you won’t believe it
They think we’re lovers kept under cover
I’ll just ignore it, but they keep saying
We laugh just a little too loud
Stand just a little too close
We stare just a little too long
Maybe they’re seeing something we don’t, darlin’

6. “I Can’t Make You Love Me” (1991)
Written by Mike Reid and Allen Shamblin

Accompanied by Bruce Hornsby on keys, Raitt’s lush vocals on the Luck of the Draw ballad, “I Can’t Make You Love Me” pulls anyone listening into the pain of unrequited love. Initially, Nashville songwriters Mike Reid and Allen Shamblin were considering giving the song to Bette Midler or Linda Ronstadt before it landed with Raitt, who co-produced the track—and the entire album—with Don Was.

“‘I Can’t Make You Love Me’ is no picnic,” said Raitt of performing the song live. “I love that song, so does the audience. So it’s almost a sacred moment when you share that, that depth of pain with your audience. Because they get really quiet, and I have to summon some other place in order to honor that space.”

‘Cause I can’t make you love me if you don’t
You can’t make your heart feel something it won’t
Here in the dark, in these final hours
I will lay down my heart and I’ll feel the power
But you won’t, no you won’t
‘Cause I can’t make you love me, if you don’t

I’ll close my eyes, then I won’t see
The love you don’t feel when you’re holding me
Morning will come and I’ll do what’s right
Just give me till then to give up this fight
And I will give up this fight

7. “Circle Dance,” featuring David Crosby (1994)
Written by Bonnie Raitt

Another sentimental story, the electric piano-led “Circle Dance” was never released as a single off Raitt’s 12th album, Longing in Their Hearts, but stands out in its poignant message of how feelings, perceptions, and longing tend to circle back around. David Crosby can be heard singing backing harmonies throughout the song.

I’ll be home soon, that’s what you’d say
And a little kid believes
And after a while I learned that love
Must be a thing that leaves
I tried so hard just to hold you near
I was as good as I could be
And even when I had you here
You stayed so far from me

8. “The Ones We Couldn’t Be” (2016)
Written by Bonnie Raitt

Also never released as a single, the closing track on Raitt’s 17th album, Dig In Deep, is the most moving of the lot. Written by Raitt, “The Ones We Couldn’t Be” is a story of regrets over familial and love relationships gone awry over misunderstandings and a lack of forgiveness.

I wrap the dark around me
There’s no solace here tonight
There’s just wishing and regret for company
My glass is raised for all the ways
We tried to get it right
And I’m sorry for the ones we couldn’t be
I’m so sorry for the ones we couldn’t be

9. “Down the Hall” (2022)
Written by Bonnie Raitt

In 2018, Raitt read a story in The New York Times Magazine about a prison hospice program in Vacaville, California where inmates work as caregivers for fellow terminal convicts. Deeply moved by the intimate photographs and stories of volunteers devoting their time to those incarcerated at the end of their lives, Raitt wrote “Down the Hall.” Moving through lyrics, told from the perspective of the caretakers, “Down the Hall” closes Raitt’s 18th album, Just Like That…

I asked if they let family in
She said not really at the end
Truth is a lot don’t have someone, no friends or next of kin
The thought of those guys going out alone
It hit me somewhere deep
I asked could go sit with them
For some comfort and relief

10. “Just Like That” (2022)
Written by Bonnie Raitt

After watching a human interest segment on the news, Raitt was touched by the story of a woman who met the recipient of her son’s heart for the first time. The young man visited her unexpectedly and asked her if she would like to put her head on his chest so she could hear her son’s heart. “I just lost it,” Raitt shared in a 2022 interview with American Songwriter. “It was the most moving and surprising thing. I wasn’t expecting it. I vowed right then that I wanted to write a song about what that would take.”

Moved by the sacrifices families can make during one of the most difficult times, Raitt began writing “Just Like That.” In 2023, “Just Like That” picked up the Grammy for Song of the Year and Best Americana Roots Song.

He sat down and took a deeper breath
Then looked right in my face
I heard about the son you lost
How you left without a trace
I’ve spent years just trying to find you
So I could finally let you know
It was your son’s heart that saved me
And a life you gave us both

Source: © Copyright American Songwriter

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