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    It’s been 40 days / Since I stopped counting the days

    New Bonnie Raitt album out today. I like it, but then I expected to; the woman’s quality control over the last fifteen years has been something to behold. I’m sure my mother’s ecstatic. She’s a MAJOR Bonnie devotee. You know, like, she not only owns even the mid-period albums that are 95% crap–Home Plate, anyone?–she also listens to them. She and a friend of hers from Michigan have traveled to see her perform countless times, they get backstage passes through the fan club and stuff, the whole bit. For a solid year when Nick of Time came out, she listened to nothing else. NOTHING. EVER. She’ll try to put it over on you that in, like, December 1989 she listened to Revolver once, but she’s full of it; it was Dad who put it on the stereo and she just happened to be in the room.

    Bear in mind, this was when the album came out–before all the publicity around the Grammy nominations brought Raitt into prominence and made all the Baby Boomer yuppies in America be like, “Oh, wow! It’s like, this is totally my story. Well, except for the dropping out of Radcliffe part–who would do that?–but, you know, not finding your true love until hubby number three, and crying when you think about your biological clock ticking, and having this life that’s a total journey, and all that is so me!”…and turn their fabled Purchasing Power to the task of making it googol platinum. (Okay, that’s not very nice of me. It wasn’t really the people who bought it that drove me nuts; it was the press that fell all over itself to treat it as an event of Great Significance when an album made by a 39-year-old appealed to other 39-year-olds.)

    Of course, no expansive personality is truly interesting without a major-big-time flaw, and Bonnie’s is that she’s a sucker for every lame-o liberal activist project IN THE WORLD. You know, No Nukes and Never Kill a Tree and stuff. She’s like (sting)bono. On the other hand, I’ve always been impressed by her involvement in the push for benefits and royalty reform on behalf of aging R&B pioneers whose innovations made them no money but proved lucrative springboards for later rock-era artists. She’s also very modest when she shares a stage with one of her heroes. I was lucky enough to see her with Charles Brown and Ruth Brown on the Longing in Their Hearts tour. We were unlucky enough to see it at the Mann Music Center, which has worse acoustics than the average bedroom closet, but the show itself was a blast.

    Speaking of performances, I think she does a big show in New Orleans every year; given her predilection for benefit concerts, I wonder whether she’ll turn it into one next go-round. (Happily, she’s a celebrity I haven’t heard bloviating about the failures of the federal government to play Big Daddy and make everything better after the hurricane, though I can’t imagine she’s not thinking along those lines.) Anyway, I’m guessing Mom will be pleased with the new album, which is good.

    7 Responses to “It’s been 40 days / Since I stopped counting the days”

    1. Janis Gore says:

      After her folk and R&B phase, I’ve thought her voice is better than her music.

      An old boyfriend did record the song with the lyric “I can’t make you love me if you don’t” from the Nick of Time album.

      I’m well rid of him.

    2. Mark Alger says:

      You’re too kind. Raitt is an unreconstructed socialist.

      Love the sting-to-the-bono construct. Hit the funny bone big-time.

      Raitt generally plays at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival in April. If she happens to be on tour that year, she might do another date down there, but she’s almost always at the Festival.

      M

    3. Sean Kinsell says:

      Ooh, I know. Janis, you and my father would get along great. He thinks it’s great that she started getting fame and recognition in ’89, but he really only likes her first three albums. And Mark, yeah, her political positions suck comprehensively, and her sincerity hardly compensates. But I can’t help it: her view of love–it can be edgy and dark and obsessive, but you just have to dive in and keep your sense of humor about it anyway–is so well realized in her music that I can’t write her off, no matter how annoying she is when she’s talking rather than singing.

    4. susannac says:

      I have a very sad confession to make… (i’ve never listened to even one of her songs all the way through). Maybe I’d like her. I’ve enjoyed hearing her sing the phrase, “Let’s give them something to talk about” the 40+ times I’ve heard it on ads and such. The best though is your “sting to the bono”. That’s classic. That deserves to be a T-shirt, or at least a bumper sticker.

    5. Sean Kinsell says:

      Thanks, Susanna. It’s something that’s annoyed me about all three of them because I grew up liking their music.

      What is “Something to Talk About” used in ads for, BTW? Being away from home, I don’t get to hear these things.

    6. Mark Alger says:

      Sean;

      No argument. I’ve loved her music since “You’ve Been in Love Too Long” back when I was a lefty. (Back in the Dark Ages.)

      It’s just… the unrelenting politicization of everything just sets my teeth on edge. It’s almost inescapable.

      Still–

      Sittin’ out front of your house

      Light rain in early dawn

      Yeah.

      M

    7. Sean Kinsell says:

      Mark, are you sure we’re not the same person? Those are two of my Bonnie favorites–I know we’re all supposed to worship Give It Up, but I much prefer Takin’ My Time, especially “You’ve Been in Love Too Long” and “I Feel the Same.” And “Love Letter” is just too sexy for this world.

      But yeah, re. the relentless politicization problem: I remember an interview with her in, I think, Rolling Stone when I was in college. The interviewer asked her something or other about how she had the energy to do so many benefit concerts for anything and everything. And Bonnie said, “Oh, if I could, I’d do more benefit concerts than I actually do.” The interviewer was completely flummoxed–his rock-critic cool utterly deserted him–and he came back with something like, “How is it even possible to imagine signing up for more causes than you have already?” I almost died laughing.

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