10 Songs, 38 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

With Sweet Forgiveness Bonnie Raitt finally found a balance between her down-home convictions and the commercial leanings of her producer, Paul Rothchild, and came away with the most successful album of her career up to that point. The hit single “Runaway” is indicative of the times — the cover of Del Shannon’s 1961 hit fits easily alongside the era’s other gritty yet breezy singles by Raitt’s California pals Jackson Browne, the Eagles, and Fleetwood Mac. Backed by her touring band (drummer Dennis Whitted, guitarist Will McFarlane, bassist Freebo), Raitt sounds tougher here than she has in years. “Gamblin’ Man,” “Three Time Loser” and a version of Little Feat’s “Takin’ My Time” all qualify as boot-heel bar rock, but always made suppler by Raitt’s rich voice. Some of the album’s most listenable songs are also its best stories. “Two Lives” is an elegant breakup tale that echoes Gladys Knight, while “Louise” is a portrait of a ruined woman who elicits both sympathy and respect from Raitt. The album ends on something of a prayer — “Home” gathers around the players for a bluegrass ballad transmuted to the Southern California coast.

EDITORS’ NOTES

With Sweet Forgiveness Bonnie Raitt finally found a balance between her down-home convictions and the commercial leanings of her producer, Paul Rothchild, and came away with the most successful album of her career up to that point. The hit single “Runaway” is indicative of the times — the cover of Del Shannon’s 1961 hit fits easily alongside the era’s other gritty yet breezy singles by Raitt’s California pals Jackson Browne, the Eagles, and Fleetwood Mac. Backed by her touring band (drummer Dennis Whitted, guitarist Will McFarlane, bassist Freebo), Raitt sounds tougher here than she has in years. “Gamblin’ Man,” “Three Time Loser” and a version of Little Feat’s “Takin’ My Time” all qualify as boot-heel bar rock, but always made suppler by Raitt’s rich voice. Some of the album’s most listenable songs are also its best stories. “Two Lives” is an elegant breakup tale that echoes Gladys Knight, while “Louise” is a portrait of a ruined woman who elicits both sympathy and respect from Raitt. The album ends on something of a prayer — “Home” gathers around the players for a bluegrass ballad transmuted to the Southern California coast.

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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

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