I’ve mentioned more than once that I have ambiguous feelings about such prolific songwriters as Bob Dylan, John Prine, and Leonard Cohen. All of them have written such memorable songs, songs that are woven into fabric of American pop and political culture. As much as I admire their abilities, I can’t stand hearing any of them sing. They hurt my ears. They make me want to change the station to something else. Unless, of course, someone else is rending their work.
Bonnie Raitt is at the opposite end of this same spectrum. She has written a fair amount of her own music, but I beleive her true gift is as a interpreter of other songwriters. She has this ability to take a song, where I might otherwise change the station, and turn it into a warm, lovely, aching, sometimes heartbreaking thing. He voice is knowing, weathered and weary, and always right on. She never wastes a note. She never does more than the song requires. She always delivers exactly what is needed.
As renowned as she is, I think she is somehow underrated, as least as a singer. People think of her slide guitar what they think of Bonnie. I think of her warm alto, and the way she can use it to move me.
I have lots of Bonnie to share, but we’ll start here. Bonnie Raitt, singing John Prine. Awesome.
Audio only[audio http://sampsons.org/files/BonnieRaittAngel.mp3]
And a grainy video too 🙂