just like that

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‘I’m 73 and it shows’: The blues legend who beat Taylor Swift and Harry Styles

on March 13, 2023 No comments
Bill Wyman

There was a twist at the end of this year’s Grammy Awards. After a parade of youthful and spangled pop stars rose to the podium for various honours, the Song of the Year prize went to one Bonnie Raitt, the veteran singer-songwriter and guitarist with a distinguished 50-year career behind her, including, among other things, a previous Grammy for album of the year.

But that didn’t stop some second-tier news outlets from wondering who the hell had beaten out Lizzo, Harry Styles and Taylor Swift.

“Unknown Blues Singer Wins Song of the Year” blared several sites. The headlines soon went viral.

“That was a big surprise,” Raitt, 73, admits. “I was overwhelmed with appreciation.”

She produced the album, Just Like That…, her 18th, herself. She wrote a big chunk of it, too, and it was released on her own record label, Redwing. She’s been doing this for a while, but this time, two tracks, the title song, and the album’s closing tune, Down the Hall, connected with fans, and the larger world, in an unexpected way.

Both songs are wrenching, not because they contain sensitive personal revelations, but because of their unusual stories.

Down the Hall is told from the point of view of a prisoner who ends up working in the jail’s hospice ward, sitting with terminal inmates who have no one else. Just Like That, the Song of the Year winner, is a gentle, luminously presented tale about a woman who lost her son. But the son’s heart had been donated to someone who needed it. The recipient visits the mother and invites her to lay her head on his chest, so she can feel her departed son’s heart beating.

“Organ donation and prison hospices are not songs people generally write songs about,” Raitt says. “I think it has something to do with reaching people at such a time, with COVID and the shutdowns and the political animosity. These songs are about uplight and grace and redemption. I didn’t write them for those reasons but I think that’s why they landed this time.”

In the post-’60s wave of ’70s singer-songwriters, featuring everyone from Jackson Browne to Randy Newman to Cat Stevens, Raitt stood out. There was that redwood voice of hers. Plus she was a guitarist, self-trained and steeped in influences stretching back into deep folk and blues. Raitt is not a tall woman and the image of the diminutive singer displaying her mastery of her large and beloved Gibson hollow-body guitar became iconic.

You can hear in Bonnie Raitt’s voice her own life’s journey mixed in with those of her blues heroes © Marina Chavez

“I still have that guitar!” she exclaims.

She was unusual in other ways. Not all her fans knew her father was an icon, too: Broadway legend John Raitt. Bonnie learned to play guitar at the family house in the Hollywood Hills and went to university at Radcliffe, at the time the women’s college of Harvard.

She put out her first record, Give It Up Bonnie Raitt, in 1972 1971, the songs almost uniformly marked by her strong blues and rock licks. Her interpretation of John Prine’s Angel from Montgomery became her signature song, and a cover of Del Shannon’s early 60s chestnut Runaway gave her an unexpected hit single in 1977. “The ’70s were a blast,” she says.

Then she was dropped by her label. Follow-up albums didn’t do well. She fought drug and alcohol addiction.

But she came roaring back in the 1990s. The aptly titled Nick of Time sold five million copies and won that Album of the Year Grammy. A popular MTV video saw her canoodling with actor buddy Dennis Quaid to the song Thing Called Love.

Gracious and quick, Raitt crisscrosses her history, mentioning friends, mentors, artists gone and others still around, people she played with and those with whom she conspires to this day, from Bruce Springsteen, Linda Ronstadt, Browne and Prince to Muddy Waters and Emmylou Harris.

But the friend she remembers the most is the late Prine, the quirky, much-loved Chicago singer-songwriter who never quite rose to mass public attention. “That type of songwriting was so inspired by John,” she says.

These days, you can hear in that voice her own life’s journey mixed in with those of her blues heroes. It’s suggested that she did not so much grow into her voice but see her voice grow into her.

“That’s great,” she agrees. “After I hit 50 I could get other ranges and other colours and reflect other experiences I’ve had. I’m 73, and it shows!”

Bonnie Raitt plays Palais Theatre, Melbourne on April 5, ICC Sydney on April 7, Bluesfest, Byron Bay, on April 9 and 10.

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Source: © Copyright The Sydney Morning Herald

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Four Lessons From Bonnie Raitt’s GRAMMY Win

on February 24, 2023 No comments
by Kay Kinney

Music professionals and fans alike were stunned earlier this month when 73-year-old Bonnie Raitt took home the GRAMMY Award for Song of The Year. Here are some lessons you can take to heart.

This year’s GRAMMY Awards nominee list was dominated by younger artists, as has been the case for many years. So it was a shocking moment at the awards ceremony when veteran singer and blues guitarist Bonnie Raitt was announced as the winner of Song of the Year for her song “Just Like That.” Social media lit up. Many younger music fans did not know who Raitt even was. Older fans were not familiar with the song or Raitt’s recent album of the same title. Others were simply disappointed fans of the other nominees, who included pop music superstars Beyoncé and Harry Styles.

Raitt herself seemed flabbergasted by her win. But I wasn’t. I listened to all kinds of new music last year, and I knew and liked all the nominated songs. I thought Raitt’s was the best. But the fact that so many were surprised got me thinking about what we could learn from her win.

1. Stories still matter. I knew “Just Like That” was a great song the first time I heard it a year ago. It tells a compelling story, based on a true story that Raitt had seen on a local news station while touring. It tells about a woman who is visited by a stranger, who tells her that many years earlier he received a heart transplant, and tracked her down because the heart was her son’s. He invites her to place her head on his chest so she can hear her son’s heart beating and be close to him again. Raitt tells this story beautifully and sets it to a stark but lovely melody. 

The best songs are still those that tell stories – they may not always be as heavy as this one, they might even be funny or ironic or joyous, but they invite the listener to “see” the story and understand and feel empathy with the characters in the song or with the singer. When you listen to music, old or new, you will likely find that the songs that stick with you are the ones that tell interesting stories.


2. You’re never too old to do something new. We hear this maxim all the time, andmost of us believe it, at least on some level. But it’s great to be reminded! In addition to the 73-year-old Raitt, blues legend Buddy Guy was also nominated for a GRAMMY at 86, as was Elvis Costello who is 68. One of my favorite new albums and live shows last year was by 1980s chart toppers Tears For Fears. Bruce Springsteen just released a new album and is touring the world this year at 73. Welsh superstar Tom Jones, who is 82, released a fantastic new album in 2021 and is also touring this year, and slaying audiences as a coach on “The Voice UK.” These legends aren’t just resting on their laurels and cashing in on Boomers who want to hear “the old stuff” we grew up with. They’re staying relevant and gaining entire new generations of fans with brand new music. We can all strive to do new things, explore new hobbies or jobs, or hone our existing ones with new information and ideas to reach a new audience and keep ourselves fresh. We can travel to new places and meet new people. Nostalgia is fine, but don’t let it dominate your life.

3. Learn and grow from your reflections during the pandemic. Last year I listened to an interview of Bonnie Raitt on the public radio show World Café. She talked about how devastated she had been in 2020 when her tour had to be canceled due to the pandemic. She even admitted spending a lot of time in bed under the covers, depressed and not wanting to do anything. I could relate! But she eventually got out of bed and realized that while she could not do the live shows she loved, she could use the time off from touring to figure out what she wanted to say next. She could write new songs and find others that were meaningful to her. So she set about doing that, and ended up producing one of the best albums of her 50 year career – and won three GRAMMY awards! Her tour last year sold out all over the country. I think we can all take this as a lesson. If you’re like me, you probably spent a lot of time during the Covid lockdowns thinking about what meant the most to you and what you missed the most.  Revisit those thoughts.  Don’t be afraid to get back out there and do what you love!  Realize that the time you spent reflecting can help you now to do your best work ever, try something you always wanted to do, or have the most joyous experiences of your life!

4. Keep up with artists you like and go see them. I’ve been surprised by how many of my now-retired friends have told me they loved Bonnie Raitt “back in the day,” but didn’t know she released a new album last year and did a nationwide tour. Many of them haven’t seen a live concert or bought new music in years. These are people who once had walls lined with records and went to every show imaginable! We are a generation whose lives revolved around music in our formative years and throughout much of our adulthood. There’s no reason to give that up now! My husband and I attended over 40 concerts last year, many by great younger artists but also some legends like Raitt and Buddy Guy. We even planned a vacation around a concert by one of our favorite bands. Live music is one of the best stress relievers and happiness producers in the world! And many of these artists you love are near the end of their touring days, so see them while you still can. Even if it’s just a Tom Petty tribute band playing in your local tavern, go see them. If you love Broadway shows but can’t get to New York, go see your local high school production. If all you can afford is a lawn spot for a concert, go anyway. You will be happier and make great memories.

If you still have a turntable or CD player, dust off those old albums and maybe buy some new ones. Find a used record shop and pick up the ones you may have missed or lost. Many of them can be had for just a dollar or two. Play them. A lot. Or consider subscribing to a digital music streaming service; you can set it up to get alerts for new music by your longtime favorites, and suggestions of new artists that you might also like and want to go see. You can make your own playlists of your favorite songs or artists, find “channels” that play the music genres you like, or just listen to your favorite classic albums while you’re on your daily walk. These are great ways to get music back into your life. And you won’t be surprised by the Grammy Awards again!

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Source: © Copyright The Street

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Bonnie Raitt Charts Her Second Career No. 1 Billboard Hit Following Her Surprise Grammy Win
Bonnie Raitt accepts the Song of the Year award for “Just Like That” onstage during the 65th GRAMMY Awards at Crypto.com Arena on February 05, 2023 in Los Angeles, California.© Frazer Harrison /Getty Images

on February 15, 2023 No comments
by Hugh McIntyre

Bonnie Raitt makes a remarkable comeback on the Billboard charts this week following her surprise win at the Grammys a little more than a week ago. Since the show, fans have been rushing to listen to and buy her newly-honored tune “Just Like That,” which was largely unknown before its moment in the spotlight.

The singer-songwriter’s song “Just Like That” debuts at the top of Billboard’s Rock Digital Song Sales ranking this frame thanks to a surge in interest in the cut. The unexpected success grants Raitt her second No. 1 hit on any Billboard list, and it marks the first time she has topped a sales chart. “Just Like That” also marks Raitt’s third career top 10 on the Rock Digital Song Sales chart.

The 2023 Grammys was a surprising moment for Raitt, who was not predicted to take home the Song of the Year trophy by most music industry experts. Her nomination, let alone the win, came as a shock to many. “Just Like That” became Raitt’s second big win in the “big four” categories, the first being Album of the Year in 1990 for her full-length Nick of Time.

Raitt’s Song of the Year win has helped “Just Like That” make its way onto various charts, including the Hot Rock & Alternative Songs, Hot Rock Songs, and the all-genre Digital Song Sales lists. The success of the single has brought Raitt her first top 10 win and just her second placement on the Digital Song Sales chart. This fact is not entirely shocking, as the chart was introduced after Raitt’s heyday, when MP3 sales became popular.

Raitt’s success with “Just Like That” marks just the second time she has topped a Billboard chart. The first instance of her running the show was back in 1998, when her single “One Belief Away” reached the No. 1 spot on the Adult Alternative Airplay ranking.

The newly-honored song was first released on Raitt’s album of the same name, which came out in 2022. In addition to claiming Song of the Year, “Just Like That” won the Best American Roots Song category, while her other track “Made Up Mind” took home the Best Americana Performance Grammy. In order to claim Song of the Year, Raitt’s single beat out several high-profile nominees such as Harry Styles’ “As It Was,” Adele’s “Easy on Me,” Lizzo’s “About Damn Time,” and even Taylor Swift’s “All Too Well.”

Source: © Copyright Forbes

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