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Bonnie Raitt says she’s ‘been so deeply moved’ by outpouring love after major Grammys win
After winning song of the year, the singer thanked those who have shared their stories and experience with organ donation.

on February 11, 2023 No comments
By Liz Calvario

The 2023 Grammy Awards was a night to remember for Bonnie Raitt.

The singer-songwriter won song of the year for “Just Like That,” surprising audiences and even herself. Raitt, 73 — who was up against artists like Lizzo, Taylor Swift, Harry Styles and Beyoncé — was visibly shocked to hear her name being announced during the Feb. 5 telecast.

Her win touched many people’s hearts including those who related to the song’s lyrics, which were inspired by a true story about an organ donor.

In a Feb. 10 message posted on her website, Raitt began by sharing how she wanted to respond to “the incredible outpouring of messages that have come in” since her big win.

Read Raitt’s full letter below:

I wanted to respond to the incredible outpouring of messages that have come in since my song, “Just Like That,” won the Grammy award last Sunday night for Song of the Year.

I’ve been so deeply moved, often to tears, reading the personal stories of hundreds of you, some of whom have had no familiarity with me or my music before I won that Grammy and were curious why this song had won. After listening, many of you wrote that you were moved to tears, even inspired to share your own heart-wrenching stories of either having your loved one’s life saved by an organ donation, or having decided at the height of the terrible shock and loss of losing a beloved, that you would donate their organs so that others could live.

These stories and your responses to my song have moved me as much as anything I can remember and I want to thank you so much for this gift. So many messages from nurses and doctors in the field involved with transplants as well as people who were tragically not able to get an organ in time to save their loved one’s life. There are messages from the family members of people who wanted their organs to be donated, but are now living with the guilt when that wish, for whatever reason, was not able to be fulfilled.. These stories run the gamut and I’m just blown open by the vulnerability and power of each of them.

I am so honored that my song and the original news story that inspired it, are eliciting such a deep emotional response for so many. The story behind the song is this: A few years ago I saw a segment on the evening TV news where they followed a woman who was meeting the man who had received her son’s heart for the first time. It was very emotional, but when he invited her to put her head on his chest and listen to her son’s heart, I just lost it. I knew after it stayed with me for weeks, that I wanted to write my own story, inspired so much by John Prine’s music and his beautiful “Angel From Montgomery,” which I’ve sung every show since hearing it in the early 70’s. I wrote about a fictional woman, Olivia Zand, torn by grief and guilt at the loss of her young son, who finds redemption and grace through the loving act of another.

May the song bring about even more awareness and motivation for more of us to support organ donation registration and infrastructure — removing obstacles that have hindered helping thousands connecting to facilitate this miraculous gift of life and help bring comfort to those suffering such tragic loss. I’ve included a link here to to register as an organ, eye and tissue donor in an effort to more directly connect to and support the 104,085 men, women, and children currently on the national transplant waiting list.

Thank you all so much again for your incredible responses and sharing your beautiful stories. More than any award, fame or commercial success, knowing what my song means to so many may be the greatest gift of all.

Blessings to you,

The story stayed with her for weeks and inspired her to write “Just Like That.” She also gained inspiration from John Prine’s music and his song “Angel From Montgomery.” The two musicians were longtime collaborators and friends. Prine, who died in 2020, wrote the song in 1971, with Raitt covering to acclaim since 1974.

Additionally, the singer noted her message was inspired by an op-ed written by Dr. Maureen McBride for USA Today that was published the day before. She also encouraged people to become organ donors.

“More than any award, fame or commercial success, knowing what my song means to so many may be the greatest gift of all,” she concluded, before directing people to the comments section of her lyric video to read people’s inspiring and heartbreaking stories.

Raitt also won two additional Grammys that night in the best American roots song and best Americana performance categories, bringing her total to 13 total wins.


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Stunning Win for Bonnie Raitt at the Grammy Awards
Bonnie Raitt paid a special tribute to her old friend the late John Prine after winning Song of the Year at the Grammy Awards

on February 6, 2023 No comments

A sentimental ballad inspired by a mother’s real-life grief won Song of the Year at the 2023 Grammy Awards and finally gave an Americana artist true recognition as a song-writer after more than 50 years of recording and performing.

Singer-songwriter Bonnie Raitt collected the prestigious Grammy for “Just Like That” – a song she was inspired to write after watching a television news story about a mother who met up with the recipient of her dead son’s transplanted heart and how she was able to hear her child’s heart beating again.

Raitt was visibly shocked when the First Lady Jill Biden named her as winner of one of the night’s major awards. Earlier in the evening, in the non-televised segment, she had won Best American Roots Song for “Just Like That” and collected a third Grammy for Best Americana Performance with “Made Up Mind.”

And her acceptance speech for Song of the Year was one of the most sincere seen recently at the Recording Academy’s annual wards.

“Oh my God, I’m so surprised I don’t know what to say,” she gasped. “This is an unreal moment, thank you for honouring me. And to the Academy which surrounds me with so much support and appreciates the art of song writing as I do.”

She then briefly explained how “Just Like That” was conceived.

“I was so inspired for this song by the incredible story of the love and the grace and generosity of someone that donates their beloved’s organs to help another person live. And that story was so simple and so beautiful for these times.”

She used the occasion to pay a special tribute to her old friend and collaborator John Prine, who died of COVID complications in 2020.

“And 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 for this song and telling a story from the inside,” she said.

“I don’t write a lot of songs but I’m so proud that you appreciate this one and what this means for me and for the rest of the songwriters,” she added. “I would not be here tonight if it wasn’t for the art of the great soul-diggers, hard-working people that put these songs and ideas to music.”

She ended: “I thank my team for helping me get this record out and thank you so much. I am just totally humbled. I really appreciate it. Thank you.”


The three awards took the 73-year-old Californian’s Grammy total to 13 since she won her first in 1990. In addition, last year she was given a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. All-in-all, she has received a total 32 Grammy nominations in the past 43 years, including four this year. But until now, none had been for song-writing.

And although her own compositions have been scattered among most of her 18 studio albums – the self-titled first in 1971 and the latest Just Like That in 2022 – she is more renown for discovering and interpreting songs from other great writers. And her signature song happens to be a wonderful version of the John Prine classic “Angel from Montgomery” she first recorded in 1974 for her Streetlights album.

In a fascinating interview with The New York Times prior to the Grammys, Raitt told pop critic Jon Pareles in more detail how the slow, endearing “Just Like That” came to her: “And completely out of the blue, I saw this news program. They followed this woman with a film crew to the guy’s house who received her son’s heart. There was a lump in my throat – it was very emotional.”

She added: “And when he asked her to sit down next to him and asked if she’d like to put her head on his chest and listen to his heart – I can’t even tell the story to this day without choking up, because it was so moving to me.”

And, true to her word, Raitt skillfully translated what she saw on the news story into first-person lyrics:
I lay my head upon his chest
And I was with my boy again
I spent so long in darkness
Never thought the night would end
But somehow grace has found me
And I had to let him in

Raitt got a fourth nomination for Best Americana Album – that category going to Brandi Carlile for “In These Silent Days.” Carlile would enhance her reputation as a multi-genre artist when “Broken Horses” won her Grammys for Best Rock Song and Best Rock Performance.

Perhaps the most deserved award at the 65th Grammys was Best Bluegrass Album won by Molly Tuttle and Golden Highway for their lauded 2022 release Crooked Tree. Tuttle had made Grammy history by becoming the first Bluegrass artist to get nominated for the all-genre Best New Artist Award. She was one of 10 finalists for the New Artist title, which went to jazz singer Samara Joy.

Tuttle is also no stranger to awards, having already collected eight in the past seven years. In 2017 she became the first female to win the Guitar Player of the Year Award at the annual International Bluegrass Music Awards. She won the same honour the following year, when she also collected Instrumentalist of the Year at the Americana Music Awards.

And only a week ago, Crooked Tree was named Album of the Year at the International Folk music Awards in Kansas City, Missouri.

At the other end of the career spectrum, Willie Nelson took his Grammy tally to 15 – over 48 years – after winning Best Country Album for “A Beautiful Time” and Best Country Solo Performance for “Live Forever,” an aptly-named song for a performer who will turn 90 on April 29. “A Beautiful Time” was Nelson’s 98th studio album.

And speaking of old timers, there was a Grammy for two roots legends, Taj Mahal and Ry Cooder, who won the Best Blues Album Grammy for Get on Board: The Songs of Sony Terry & Brownie McGhee. As per the title, the album featured 11 songs drawn from recordings by southern blues legends Terry and McGhee, another great blues twosome Taj and Ry first heard as teenagers.

But all these achievements have little chance of appearing in the mainstream music media. They were overshadowed by “Queen B’ Beyonce picking up four awards to take her total to 32 – an all-time Grammy record.

Americana/Roots/Country Grammy Winners:

Song of the Year
“Just Like That” – Bonnie Raitt

Best American Roots Song
“Just Like That” – Bonnie Raitt, songwriter

Best Americana Performance
“Made Up Mind” – Bonnie Raitt

Best Bluegrass Album
“Crooked Tree” – Molly Tuttle and Golden Highway

Best Americana Album
“In These Silent Days” – Brandi Carlile

Best American Roots Performance
“Stompin Ground “ – Aaron Neville and the Dirty Dozen Brass Band Aaron Neville with the Dirty Dozen Brass Band

Best Country Solo Performance
“Live Forever” – Willie Nelson

Best Country Album
“A Beautiful Time” – Willie Nelson

Best Country Song
“ ‘Til You Can’t” – Cody Johnson, songwriter

Best Country Duo/Group Performance
“Never Wanted to Be That Girl” – Carly Pearce and Ashley McBryde

Best Traditional Blues Album
“Get On Board” – Taj Mahal and Ry Cooder

Best Contemporary Blues Album
“Brother Johnny” – Edgar Winter

Best Folk Album
“Revealer” – Madison Cunningham

Best Regional Roots Music Album
“Live at the 2022 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival” – Ranky Tanky

Source: © Copyright Americana Music Appreciation

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Why Bonnie Raitt Deserved Song of the Year at the Grammys

on February 6, 2023 No comments
by Andrew R. Chow

When Bonnie Raitt’s name was called by presenter Jill Biden for Song of the Year at the Grammys on Sunday night, many on social media responded with confusion and even disgust. “Stop giving random people awards challenge,” wrote one user.

Raitt’s victory—which came at the expense of pop titans like Beyoncé, Adele, Taylor Swift and Harry Styles—was one of the more notable upsets in recent Grammys history; even Raitt herself was stunned. “Just Like That’ wasn’t remotely in the zeitgeist this year. It has one-sixtieth the number of Spotify streams as the second-least streamed song in the category, DJ Khaled’s “GOD DID.” To many, its victory was a perfect example of the Grammys being out of touch.

That critique is partly true: the song absolutely benefited from older Grammy voters who look upon music industry changes with contempt and long for the good old days. But it also happens that “Just Like That” is a terrific, poignant song, written from a perspective that is all too often boxed out of the cultural spotlight.

A vote for a more personal approach to music

There are many systemic reasons why a path was cleared for Raitt to take home her unlikely trophy. First of all, Raitt is a music legend, deeply respected by her peers of all generations. She is a mean blues guitarist and a devastating writer of songs about breakups and hard times. Her influence is deeply felt through two of her younger Grammy winners: Brandy Carlile, who once said she tells herself to “be Bonnie” in tough situations; and Adele, who called Raitt’s song “I Can’t Make You Love Me” “perfect in every single way,” and said it was an outsized influence in the creation of her monumental album 21.

Raitt was also likely aided by the fact that her connection with the Grammys is long and deep. She nabbed her first of 13 trophies in 1990—taking home Album of the Year for the Americana classic Nick of Time—and has remained a frequent onstage presence ever since. In recent years she’s gamely performed in an array of situations, whether duetting with Alicia Keys on an Etta James classic or helping Joni Mitchell read the teleprompter last year. She serves as a bridge both to an older generation and a younger one.

Why Bonnie Raitt Deserved Song of the Year at the Grammys

Bonnie Raitt looked stunned when her win for “Just Like That” was announced at the 65th annual Grammy Awards ceremony in Los Angeles on Sunday, February 5.

© Francis Specker /CBS/Getty Images

Raitt has succeeded at the Grammys not just for her overflowing musical talent, but because she’s the kind of artist that the Grammys want to honor, especially in the face of rapidly changing musical trends. Grammy voters tend to be old and white; they like it when artists play their own instruments, write their own songs, and uphold long-held traditions. Several anonymous voters admitted as much in a recent Variety article, with one complaining about the lack of “real musicians” on the ballot and how “the pendulum is swinging… way into ‘We must appease the TikTok generation.’”

A vote for Raitt, then, was a vote not just for the song, but for a generation, as well as a non-digital, highly personal approach to music. Song of the Year is supposed to be a songwriters award, and “Just Like That” was the only song on the ballot to only list one songwriter. It’s entirely possible that many older voters saw her solo name and picked as a rejoinder to a new era of pop songs written by committee. It’s also possible that many picked the song as a continued legacy vote for an artist who was already awarded with a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award last year.

A unique story from an oft-ignored perspective


But all of this analysis ignores the quality of the song itself. “Just Like That” is a story song, an increasingly rare breed these days. Over a finger-picked guitar, Raitt sings through the lens of the fictional Olivia Zand, a grief-stricken mother who receives a stranger at her door. While the hardened, solitary Zand at first wants to turn him away, she lets him in and soon learns that he was the recipient of her dead son’s heart transplant. He has come to thank her for effectively saving his life. “And just like that, your life can change, look what the angels send/ I lay my head upon his chest and I was with my boy again,” Raitt sings.

It’s a story of how heartbreak can spring into hope, filled with suspense and haunting turns of phrase. Raitt delivers a lovely, understated vocal performance as a woman who has long buried her sadness before letting it unleash.

The song is reminiscent of another one of Raitt’s foremost hits, the John Prine-penned “Angel From Montgomery,” partially because both are written from a perspective rarely taken seriously in pop music, or pop culture at large, these days. Last week, TIME film critic Stephanie Zacharek wrote a piece pegged to the new film 80 For Brady about how the stories of older women have long mattered little to wider culture.

“As we age, nearly all women notice that they become somewhat invisible in the world, but in the golden era of the women’s film, older women really were expected to fade quietly into the wallpaper,” she wrote. “Just Like That” shows Raitt refusing to fade away; it shows that stories that are supposed to have been long-finished can be rejuvenated.

If you went on social media last night, you would quickly absorb the opinion that Raitt’s voice has no consequence, particularly in relation to her blockbuster peers; that because the Grammys didn’t center youth or statistical streaming proof, they got it wrong. But “Just Like That” matters because it tells a unique story from an oft-ignored perspective—and because it’s a flat-out beautiful song that Adele, Taylor Swift, or Beyoncé would be proud to have written. And hopefully, when they all reach age 73 just like Raitt has, they’ll find that their stories still matter as much as the empowerment anthems of their youths, even if the users of the app that has replaced the app that has replaced TikTok don’t agree.

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