Don’t patronize me: the best of Bonnie Raitt

“Because Raitt has never sounded young or shown much interest in courting the youth market, she has stood in place waiting for us to age into the experiences depicted in her best material,” I wrote in a Red Bull Music Academy retrospective last year on the eve of the release of Dig In Deep, her best album since the nineties. “In a career that spans almost half a century, Raitt has spent a lot of it singing about women drunk on love, drunk and in love and those who are simply too drunk to love.” My generation reveres here for “I Can’t Make You Love Me,” a ballad chronicling a romantic devastation as complete as any on Shoot Out the Lights or Closer. Over the funereal crawl of Bruce Hornsby’s keyboards, Raitt pleads, “Don’t patronize me” — awful because it’s impossible to imagine anyone patronizing Bonnie Raitt. In the aforementioned link, I explained how the top five “Something to Talk About” sounded amid the clamor of late summer ’91.

In certain quarters Raitt still gets dismissed as boring. But with exceptions the blues and I aren’t simpatico, so a woman in the early seventies goosing up Mississippi Fred McDowell with Lowell George is a spur. So is covering Sippie Wallace. So is treating Eric Kaz and John Hiatt as if they were Jackson Browne, or Jackson Browne as if — well, you get the idea (lest I get accused of dissing Browne, I believe his profundity as a songwriter when Raitt sings “Under the Falling Sky” and a couple others).

1. Give It Up or Let Me Go
2. Run Like a Thief
3. I Can’t Make You Love Me
4. Love Has No Pride
5. Nick of Time
6. Something to Talk About
7. Love Me Like a Man
8. Finest Lovin’ Man
9. Under the Falling Sky
10. The Ones We Couldn’t Be
11. Sweet and Shiny Eyes
12. What is Success
13. Luck of the Draw
14. Good Enough
15. Angel from Montgomery
16. Come to Me
17. Need You Tonight
18. The Comin’ Round Is Going Through
19. Spit of Love
20. Standin’ by the Same Old Love

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