Success is a wonderful thing, but too much success can be a curse of sorts.
When veteran musical artists who are defined by their hits go out on tour, they are often beholden to those signature songs.
Led Zeppelin lead singer Robert Plant famously once told the Los Angeles Times that his band’s iconic “Stairway to Heaven” makes him “break out in hives.”
But “the hits” are so often all fans want to hear. When artists play “the new stuff,” the old joke goes, that’s the time to go to the bathroom.
Bonnie Raitt has been very fortunate to have some success on the singles chart but not so much that her set list can’t wander into places unexpected. She played a sold-out show at the Blaisdell Concert Hall on Saturday night and part of the joy was the unpredictability.
Sure, most of Raitt’s hits made the cut, but her 1989 comeback single — the John Hiatt cover “Thing Called Love” — didn’t, and there were no calls for it from the audience. Raitt has built enough equity and trust with her fans that she can play what she wants and they will soak it up.
So when she opened her show with the first two tracks from her latest album, “Dig in Deep” — the blues-rock rave-up “Unintended Consequence of Love” and the INXS chart-topper “Need You Tonight” — the welcome was as warm as if she had started with her two biggest hits.
When she followed with a different Hiatt-penned song, “No Business,” the audience was game. Granted, “No Business” is off the top selling album of her career, 1991’s “Luck of the Draw,” but the point stands: The vast majority of Raitt’s 105-minute set was made up of songs the casual fan would not be familiar with, but Raitt’s hits do not own her — she owns her hits.
Two of her biggest are also from “Luck of the Draw,” and Raitt mixed it up a bit on both, rather than playing the album versions note-for-note.
Raitt kicked off a faster-paced “Something to Talk About” singing a cappella, and she took the reins off her vocals for the usually understated “I Can’t Make You Love Me.” Such departures are one of the things that make the live music experience so vital, and in that respect Raitt definitely delivers.
Though known more as an interpreter of songs than for vocal fireworks, Raitt showed on the oft-covered but never matched “I Can’t Make You Love Me” that she has the pipes to make a song soar.
In this very special conversation, the first-time HPR ATC guest discussed her background in detail, including how her family commitment to Quaker values shaped decades of philanthropic efforts, and the ways her parents’ background in performing inspired her own musical career.
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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