Tag Archives: Bonnie Raitt

Singer: Bonnie Raitt

Bonnie Raitt was well known inside the music community, but didn't experience commercial success until 1989's Nick of Time, which earned the Grammy for Album of the Year. Uploaded by lastfm.es.

Exactly how did a white Quaker girl from Radcliffe College become an acclaimed blues guitarist? (No, the answer isn’t ‘Practice, practice, practice.) In Bonnie Raitt’s case, she became friends and then a protegĂ© of blues promoter and journalist Dick Waterman. Waterman represented such artists as Mississippi John Hurt and “Lightnin'” Hopkins, and he took Raitt under his wing.

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Raitt, daughter of Broadway musical star John Raitt, didn’t need a whole lot of help. She was the total package. Great musician, great singer and, of course, great DNA. She received lots of recognition among musicians and insiders, but didn’t see commercial success until the release of the album Nick of Time, her tenth album, in 1989. Featuring some great songs (“Thing Called Love,” “Have a Heart,” “Nick of Time”), it earned the Grammy for Album of the Year, and Raitt won both Best Female Pop and Best Female Rock Performances.

But it was her follow-up, Luck of the Draw, that produced her signature song, the hauntingly beautiful “I Can’t Make You Love Me” (Great American Things, January 15, 2010). Raitt has now earned a total of nine Grammy awards. She was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2000.

Singers: The Blind Boys of Alabama

They started singing together in 1939, but the Grammy people didn't recognize them until 2002. Uploaded by pac.unlv.edu.

The Rolling Stones formed in the early sixties. That’s a career span coming up on 40 years, which is remarkable. But the Blind Boys of Alabama started singing in 1939 at the Alabama Institute for the Negro Blind in Talladega. And though only two of the original members are still living, they’re still touring, still performing.

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For most of the group’s history, the Boys performed pure gospel music in the traditional black churches and gospel music venues. Then in 1983, they appeared in The Gospel of Colonus on Broadway, and their new audiences were thrilled. So were other well-known artists, who asked the Blind Boys to record with them. In fact, they’ve featured some of these sessions on their album Duets, in which they sing with Ben Harper, Timothy B. Schmidt, Bonnie Raitt, Jars of Clay, Lou Reed, and others.

They released their first album in 1948, the intriguingly titled I Can See Everybody’s Mother But Mine. They’ve released dozens of albums since, and the Grammy folks finally took notice a few years ago. The group received the Grammy Award for Best Traditional Soul Gospel Album every year between 2002 and 2005. And in 2009 they were awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.

Though they’ve expanded their appeal, they haven’t abandoned their faith. Here’s one of their great performances. Head over to YouTube and catch some others. It’s still not too late to get on the bandwagon.

Song: “I Can’t Make You Love Me”

Rolling Stone put I Can't Make You Love Me as number 331 on its 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. It was only off by about 325 spots. Uploaded by rockpix.com.

“I Can’t Make You Love Me” is a virtually perfect song. It combines incredibly powerful lyrics with an arrangement that captures the song’s emotions, and amazing performances by Bruce Hornsby on piano and singer Bonnie Raitt. Rolling Stone named it number 331 on its list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. I have a lot of respect for that list, but it only got this one wrong by about 325 spots.

I remember the first time I heard “I Can’t Make You Love Me,” like I remember where I was when I heard that Kennedy was shot and learned that Elvis was dead. That’s some impact for a song to make, but this one delivers the goods.

Songwriter Mike Reid. Uploaded by berklee.edu.

Songwriter Mike Reid read about a man who was sentenced to jail after getting drunk and shooting up his girlfriend’s car. The judge asked if he’d learned anything. The man said, “I learned, your honor, that you can’t make a girl love you if she don’t.” He then penned the song with Allen Shamblin. Reid, if you don’t know, was the 1969 winner of the Outland Trophy as the best defensive player in college football, and an all-pro in the NFL. Hard to believe such sensitive and powerful lyrics from a former jock, isn’t it?

Raitt recorded the vocal in just one take. Not only was it a difficult song to sing due to its range, but she couldn’t maintain the emotional intensity it required. As for performing it in concert, she said, “I love that song, so does the audience. So it’s almost a sacred moment when you share that, that depth of pain with your audience. Because they get really quiet, and I have to summon … some other place in order to honor that space.”

As the song says, “Turn down the lights” and listen to this song “here in the dark.” It’s still extremely moving, no matter how many times you’ve heard it.