10 Songs, 36 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Bonnie Raitt’s musical approach crystallized on her 1972 album Give It Up. At only 23, Raitt was something of a prodigy, a cross between Sweet Emma Barrett and Carole King. Thanks to producer Michael Cuscuna, Give It Up isn’t quite as wild as its predecessor — Raitt’s eponymous debut is a gloriously salty back-porch affair — but it still manages to mash together several strands of American music. Luckily Raitt doesn’t shoot for the silky country-rock synthesis that was in vogue at the time. Instead “Give It Up or Let Me Go,” “I Know” and “You Got To Know How” hit upon a kind of fortuitous collision of ideas — as if a folk group decided to play blues for one night, and along the way picked up a New Orleans brass band. The only group who could achieve a mix as groovy was Little Feat, great friends and collaborators with Raitt. The singer is great at leading the party, but she really slays on the ballads. “Nothing Seems to Matter,” “If You Gotta Make a Fool of Somebody” and “Love Has No Pride” are disarming tearjerkers that retain a scarred dignity in spite of Raitt’s vulnerability.

EDITORS’ NOTES

Bonnie Raitt’s musical approach crystallized on her 1972 album Give It Up. At only 23, Raitt was something of a prodigy, a cross between Sweet Emma Barrett and Carole King. Thanks to producer Michael Cuscuna, Give It Up isn’t quite as wild as its predecessor — Raitt’s eponymous debut is a gloriously salty back-porch affair — but it still manages to mash together several strands of American music. Luckily Raitt doesn’t shoot for the silky country-rock synthesis that was in vogue at the time. Instead “Give It Up or Let Me Go,” “I Know” and “You Got To Know How” hit upon a kind of fortuitous collision of ideas — as if a folk group decided to play blues for one night, and along the way picked up a New Orleans brass band. The only group who could achieve a mix as groovy was Little Feat, great friends and collaborators with Raitt. The singer is great at leading the party, but she really slays on the ballads. “Nothing Seems to Matter,” “If You Gotta Make a Fool of Somebody” and “Love Has No Pride” are disarming tearjerkers that retain a scarred dignity in spite of Raitt’s vulnerability.

TITLE TIME

About Bonnie Raitt

By the time Bonnie Raitt found worldwide success with 1989’s Nick of Time, the songwriter and master slide guitarist had already recorded 10 albums over two decades. A pioneering figure in roots rock who spent her early years apprenticing with bluesmen like Mississippi Fred McDowell, Raitt, who was born in Burbank, California, in 1949, seemed to have stepped out of an imagined past, synthesizing strains of blues, folk, rock, and country in ways that felt both effortless and fresh. She does it all on 1972’s Give It Up, which spans raucous New Orleans-style R&B (“Give It Up or Let Me Go”) and contemplative ballads (“Nothing Seems to Matter”), bare-bones blues (“Love Me Like a Man”) and string-heavy folk (“Too Long at the Fair”), with Raitt equally at home in each. She’s since left her mark on artists covering all sorts of terrain—from Susan Tedeschi and Joss Stone to Adele and Alabama Shakes frontwoman Brittany Howard. Or, as blues legend B.B. King said of Raitt’s impact in one of his last interviews: “I came up in a macho world and never thought I’d ever declare the best living slide guitarist to be a woman. Well, I’m declaring.”

HOMETOWN
Burbank, CA
GENRE
Rock
BORN
November 8, 1949

Songs

Albums

Videos

Listeners Also Played