road tested

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Bonny Bonnie Raitt – Interview

on December 14, 1995 No comments

by Ann Powers – Dec, 1995

Perhaps it’s her trademark cherry orange mane that makes Bonnie Raitt so open-minded, full of humor and warmth. Redheads understand that their seductiveness is linked to a sense of fun and being a little unusual. But the blues have made her sexy, without turning her into a pinup. Most of all – and this is why Bonnie Raitt has hit her stride in her forties, when most female media creations are taking long sabbaticals at the plastic surgeon’s – the blues value wisdom over callowness, allowing Raitt to act her age and still express more power than she’s ever had before. On her new double live album, Road Tested (Capitol), Raitt sets classic Delta sounds against contemporary hits, proving that no matter what trends overtake the airwaves, some music can always speak to the heart.

ANN POWERS: So Bonnie, you’ve won a million Grammys, had your own ABC After School Special, a guitar model named after you, and now you’re releasing a live album. Is this the last step to becoming a total rock goddess?

BONNIE RAITT: God, I hope not. People usually don’t wait this many years to put out a live album, but it’s a dream come true for me. A two-record set is great because it means I don’t have to compromise my show.

AP: Your first record was done live but in a very different way – at a Minnesota summer camp with some close friends. Do you feel you’ve come full circle?

BR: Well, I don’t imagine that it’ll be the only live record I’ll do. It’s the same as with the last three records. People were asking, “Do you look at them as a trilogy?” And I don’t because what happens when I make the next record? With Nick of Time [1989] I found my own sense of clarity, but I don’t think if it had come out any earlier that anybody would’ve played it.

AP: Your core audience has loved you from the beginning, but in the ’90s there’s been an opening for a woman’s voice, a wise voice.

BR: In the early ’80s it was disco and new wave, and people like Emmylou Harris, Maria Muldaur, and myself just weren’t hip anymore. But in the late ’80s, women like Edie Brickell and Tracy Chapman helped open up the radio. It shouldn’t be age-specific. I really respect artists who continued to work as they got older, like Georgia O’Keeffe, Imogen Cunningham, and Louise Nevelson. In music there’s Etta James, Sippie Wallace, and Aretha Franklin. Mentoring is a great part of the artistic process.

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