There’s something indescribable about Bonnie Raitt’s music. Whether it’s the stellar line-up of guest musicians in her recording sessions, or her own unparalleled playing and singing—whatever the x factor is, you can feel it from the second you queue up a Raitt song.
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While many may know her top hits—”I Can’t Make You Love Me,” “Something To Talk About” and “Nick of Time” for example. There is a whole other side of Raitt’s musicality waiting to be discovered in some of her lesser-known songs.
Below, we’re going through just 5 of a long list of deep cuts from Bonnie Raitt you should add to your playlist sooner rather than later.
1. “Rainy Day Man” (From Streetlights, 1974)
Streetlights saw Raitt put her spin on a number of hits originally recorded by her contemporaries – John Prine, Joni Mitchell, and more. Raitt takes on James Taylor for the second track on the album, “Rainy Day Man.” Raitt gives the song new life with fuller production and a more rock feel.
It does you no good to pretend, child / You’ve made a hole much too big to mend / And it looks like you lose again, my friend / So go on home and look up your rainy day man, she sings.
2. “Louise” (From Sweet Forgiveness, 1977)
Though this track was penned by Paul Siebel, “Louise” has been popularized over the years through a number of cover versions—among which is Raitt’s version on her 1977 album, Sweet Forgiveness.
In the lyrics, Raitt tells the story of a woman who is used up and laughed at by those around her. It’s only after her death that they start to appreciate her: They’d all put her down / Below their kind/ Still some cried when she died / That afternoon. With only an acoustic guitar backing Raitt up, it leaves room for her stunning vocals.
3. “Under the Falling Sky” (From Give It Up, 1972)
Raitt ventures into folk rock with “Under the Falling Sky.” Written and originally performed by Jackson Browne for his self-titled album, Raitt trades in the funky synthesizer Browne uses in his version and replaces it with an acoustic guitar and a lively backing band.
4. “Any Day Woman” (From Bonnie Raitt, 1971)
Another Paul Siebel-written track, “Any Day Woman” is a slower number among the repertoire of steady rock n’ roll staples on her self-titled album. Recorded when she was just 21 years old, it proves that Raitt’s top-tier vocals and smart arrangements have been there from the start.
She sings, Love’s so hard to take when you have to fake everything in return / You just preserve her when you serve her a little tenderness.
5. “That Song About the Midway” (From Streetlights, 1974)
Raitt took on the Joni Mitchell classic, “That Song About the Midway” for her Streetlights album. The song originally appeared on JONI MITCHELL – LIVE RADIO BROADCASTS, released in 1966. While Mitchell’s version is languid, Raitt picks up the tempo a bit for hers, highlighting Mitchell’s expert lyricism while still making the track her own.
Bonnie Raitt (Photo Susan J. Weiand)