song of the year

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‘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.

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Source: © Copyright McAlester News-Capital

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Raitt Uses Grammy Win to Raise Social Awareness
Bonnie Raitt has used her surprise win at the Grammy Awards to draw attention to the issue of organ transplants

on February 12, 2023 No comments
by Paul Cutler

Bonnie Raitt accentuated the positive, while ignoring the negative, in her latest response on social media following the controversy which surrounded her surprise win at the 65th Grammy Awards.

Raitt sent shockwaves through popular music when her “real-life” roots song “Just Like That” shut out popular artists like Harry Styles, Beyonce and Taylor Swift to win the sought-after Song of the Year Grammy.

There was a largely negative response in the mainstream media, with Rolling Stone labeling it as a WTF moment and declaring it “a typical Grammy blunder.” The magazine added: We thought the Grammys had moved beyond such bizarrely out-of-touch choices, but apparently not.”

And the U.K. Daily Mail declared: “So who is Bonnie Raitt?”

Showing the same dignity she displayed in her Grammy acceptance speech, Raitt posted on Facebook: “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.”

Raitt was inspired to write her winning song after watching a news story about a mother who met the recipient of her dead son’s transplanted heart. Her endearing lyrics relate – in the first-person narrative – how the mother gets to hear her boy’s heart beating again:
I lay my head upon his chest
And I was with my boy again

And it was the issue of organ donation which dominated her Facebook response: “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. “

Raitt added: “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.”

Raitt is no stranger to popular causes and her social activism dates back to her early recording days in the 1970’s. She has wasted little time in in converting the success of Just Like That” into raising awareness of organ donation: “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.”

And in her Facebook posting, she referenced her followers to an Op-Ed in USA Today by Dr Maureen McBride, the interim CEO of United Network for Organ Sharing.

As might be expected, Dr McBride used Raitt’s success to further the cause of organ donations. “Her song was inspired, she said, by love and the grace and generosity of someone (who) donates their beloved’s organs to help another person live.”

She concluded: “Bonnie Raitt sang so beautifully about a life saved by an organ donor. Thousands of Americans are alive today because of transplants. Thousands join them every year. Nonetheless, we must take decisive action to best serve the thousands more who are still waiting.”


Another feature of Raitt’s Grammy speech which got much feedback, especially in the Americana music community, was how much she had been inspired to write following the death in 2020 of her old friend and collaborator John Prine.

In her latest posting she again referred to how seeing the news story on the transplanted heart had triggered memories of Prine: “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.”

Like many departed music legends, Prine’s fan base has not diminished since his loss and Raitt’s special tribute triggered a lively response across various social media fan sites. Prine’s widow Fiona Whelan Prine and Oh Boy Records, the independent record label Prine co-foundered, have also maintained a high profile in the past two years. And his official site gratefully acknowledged Raitt’s kind words without lifting the spotlight off her achievement.

Source: © Copyright Americana Music Appreciation

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Bonnie Raitt Reveals the Emotional Story Behind Her Grammy-Winning Song ‘Just Like That’
The singer opened up about the touching responses to her win and shared the inspiration for the lyrics.

on February 11, 2023 No comments
Sammi Burke

Bonnie Raitt made quite the impression at this year’s Grammy Awards, where she took home the honors for Song of the Year and Best American Roots Song for “Just Like That,” as well as Best Americana Performance for “Made Up Mind.”

That win triggered a number of younger music fans to discover Raitt for the first time, and countless others to reach out with their congratulations, wrapping the praise within their own, heartfelt stories, which listening to the lyrics of “Just Like That” brought crashing to the forefront for so many who have had any experience at all with organ donation.

Yesterday, Feb. 10, Raitt took a moment to “respond to the incredible outpouring of messages that have come in since…” winning in a post shared on Facebook.

“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,” she began her lengthy message, addressing those who had reached out after listening to the song for the first time with their own “heart-wrenching” memories involving having a family member saved by organ donation or, alternatively, having to make the decision to donate a loved one’s organs to save others.

She went on to call the stories, which have come in from medical professionals who work in transplant medicine, as well, and “have moved [her] as much as anything [she] can remember,” a gift. “These stories run the gamut and I’m just blown open by the vulnerability and power of each of them,” she continued, noting how “honored” she is that her song has elicited such a reaction before going on to explain the inspiration behind it: a segment she saw several years ago on the evening news.

“…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.”


Raitt’s song details the story of a fictional woman, Olivia Zand, who is swirling in the grief and guilt that came after losing her young son until she “finds redemption and grace through the loving act of another.”

Raitt hopes the song raises awareness and encourages others to support and sign up to be organ donors, and may also lead to “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.”

She went on to link to an op-ed from Dr. Maureen McBride, interim CEO of United Network for Organ Sharing, about the importance of supporting organ donation programs and again thanked those that have reached out to share their stories with her, many of which can be read in the comments below the lyric video on YouTube

“More than any award, fame or commercial success, knowing what my song means to so many may be the greatest gift of all,” she signed off. 

Congratulations on your big wins, Bonnie!

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Source: © Copyright Parade

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