This Historic Day In Music: Bonnie Raitt

Thanks to Bonnie Raitt, I’ve learned to play and sing some great songs.

Not too long after I got my first job (teaching 4th, 5th and 6th grade music in the public schools of Exeter, NH), I started trying to put a band together with some friends. One of the women in the band was a Bonnie Raitt fan and she wanted to do Bonnie’s version of the Jackson Browne song, “I Thought I Was A Child.” The band never got off the drawing board, but I learned that song, performed it often over the years and still love to play it to this day.

Recently, being at the right place, at the right time and knowing how to play Bonnie’s take on “Angel From Montgomery” by John Prine, I got what proved to be a most-enjoyable gig backing up a superb singer who loves Bonnie’s music even though she was a decade away from being born when Bonnie put “Angel” on her album Streetlights in 1974.

Thanks to Bonnie Raitt, I first heard about the legendary Blues musicians Mississippi John Hurt and Son House and Sippie Wallace and Skip James and Fred McDowell. 

In the cover story article/interview with Bonnie by Patricia Brody in the May 1977 issue of Guitar Player magazine (yes, I still have my copy), she names the artists above and several others as being major influences on her guitar playing and singing style.

As a college student in Cambridge, MA, in the late 1960’s, Bonnie got to meet and learn directly from several of the elder statesmen of traditional Blues. Throughout her career, Bonnie has not only recorded their songs, but in countless print interviews and appearances in documentary films and on TV, she has continuously championed her heros and heroines, trying to keep their names and music alive and in the public’s eyes and ears.

Thanks to Bonnie Raitt, some of my heros have found a larger audience.

In 1989, after I had spent the previous year telling everyone about this outrageously good album (Bring The Family) by John Hiatt, Bonnie released her breakthrough album Nick Of Time and had a major hit with her version of a Hiatt song, “Thing Called Love,” that had been on Bring The Family.

In 1994, Bonnie Raitt released the album Longing In Their Hearts. It contained her version of the Richard Thompson song “Dimming Of The Day.” Back in 1989, before Nick Of Time won all those Grammy awards, Bonnie was still playing in small venues like the Hampton Beach Casino Ballroom here in NH. Richard Thompson was on that tour as her opening act and would play guitar behind her when she did “Dimming” during her set.

Thanks to Bonnie Raitt, I know how incredible and exciting slide guitar playing can sound.

Throughout her albums, in all the live and filmed performances I’ve seen, Bonnie Raitt stands out as one of the most evocative, emmotional, expressive and positively smokin’ slide guiarists playing today or, for that matter, who has ever put a glass bottleneck to steel strings.

Not so sure you agree with that? 

If you’ve got 5 minutes, check this out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Mylo0piAgc

Bonnie Raitt was born on this day, November 8, in the year 1949, in Burbank, California.

Happy Birthday, Bonnie. Thank you for everything. Take care and all the best.

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2 Responses to This Historic Day In Music: Bonnie Raitt

  1. TPS says:

    How could anyone not agree with you on that? Bonnie Raitt remains one of my favorite artists, for all the same reasons you give. Her dedication to the blues and to the pioneering artists, most of whom never enjoyed the notoriety and success that she has had. I love her slide, her voice, her passion.
    I’ve been fortunate to see her twice; once on the Boston Common many years ago ( were you there with me…?) and again a few years back at a fundraiser held at the Orpheum Theater, where I got to see her perform with John Mayer, of whom she was clearly enthusiastic.

    Just one of the best in our lives….

  2. ADS says:

    Bonnie Raitt has been a favorite of mine since my college days. Seeing her in concert is even more amazing than YouTube. One line she sings….”how the hell can a person go to work in the morning and come home in the evening and have nothin’ to say….” Whenever I hear her sing that line, I just have to stop whatever I am doing and join in. The emotions just tumble out and soak you up. Love it. That and the the title track to “Nick of Time” rank at the top in my book. Happy Birthday and many more!

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