meta-scriptBonnie Raitt Essentials: 11 Songs That Showcase The Breadth And Depth Of The 2023 GRAMMYs Song Of The Year Winner |
Photo of Bonnie Raitt winning the GRAMMY for Song Of The Year at the 2023 GRAMMYs.
Bonnie Raitt at the 2023 GRAMMYs.

Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images for The Recording Academy


Bonnie Raitt Essentials: 11 Songs That Showcase The Breadth And Depth Of The 2023 GRAMMYs Song Of The Year Winner

Following Bonnie Raitt's big night at the 2023 GRAMMYs — where she won three golden gramophones, including the coveted Song Of The Year — looks at 11 tracks that showcase the blues icon's talent.

GRAMMYs/Feb 9, 2023 - 06:40 pm

When first lady Dr. Jill Biden announced the GRAMMY winner for Song of the Year at the 2023 GRAMMYs, attendees exchanged surprised looks throughout the arena — even winner Bonnie Raitt included. 

"I'm so surprised, I don't know what to say," Raitt said as she took the podium, her hand over her face. After all, her song "Just Like That" beat compositions written by such modern pop stars as Taylor Swift, Lizzo, Harry Styles, Adele, and Beyoncé

A day later, with three more GRAMMYS in her collection (Raitt also won golden gramophones for Best Americana Roots Song and Best Americana Performance that night) that now totals a lucky 13, the singer was still reeling. The reality? This win was no fluke. It affirmed what longtime fans, critics and many behind-the-scenes already knew; Raitt is the real deal. The significance of this win — and what made it truly special — is it was the artists' first GRAMMY in the Song Of The Year category.    

For more than 50 years, Raitt, 73, has been making records and following her passion. The blues maven is a modern trailblazer — and bandleader — in a genre men traditionally dominate. A 10-time GRAMMY winner and 30-time nominee before this year's awards, Raitt's career was already legendary. Not a bad legacy for someone who did not want stardom and did it her way.

Raitt grew up in Los Angeles to parents who both worked in the arts; her dad was a Broadway star and her mom a pianist. Later, she headed east to attend Harvard where she majored in Social Relations and African Studies. Here she met promoter Dick Waterman, who introduced her to the famed Delta Blues singer Son House. During her college days, a worn vinyl copy of Blues at Newport served as her education outside the classroom; Raitt honed her sound playing the coffee houses and folk clubs in the New England area. At 21 years old, she signed a record deal with Warner Bros., and in 1971 released her self-titled debut to critical acclaim. Eight albums followed in the 1970s alone.

Mainstream success — and her first GRAMMYs — came in 1989 with Nick of Time. The record, which just last year the Library of Congress added to its National Recording Registry, won three golden gramophones: Album Of The Year, Best Rock Vocal Performance, and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance. Three decades later, her latest GRAMMY victories solidify her place as a timeless music legend. 

In honor of Raitt's big night at the 65th GRAMMY Awards, here are 11 Essential songs from the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer — a mix of originals, covers, deep cuts and duets. 

"Thank You," Bonnie Raitt (1971)

One of two originals Raitt penned on her self-titled debut. (The other was "Finest Lovin' Man.") The rest of the record was mostly covers: folk, rock and blues artists Raitt admired. This piano ballad is an early indication of Raitt's talent to pen a song that lingers long.

"Nothing Seems to Matter," Give it Up (1972)

Recorded at Bearsville Studio in New York, Raitt's second album showcased more original songs (three of the 10 are self-penned) from the maturing artist whose confidence was growing. "Nothing Seems to Matter" is one of the best. With the singer's soothing vocals, finger-picking and backed by rich orchestration, Raitt tugs at your heartstrings with this universal love song.

"Angel From Montgomery," Streetlights (1974)

Written by her good friend John Prine — who she toured with regularly early in her career, which forged a lifelong friendship — this signature song about longing to escape an unsatisfactory life almost became more famous for Raitt than Prine's original that appeared on his 1971 self-titled debut. The tune is a fan favorite and one Raitt has stated is one of the most important songs she has ever recorded. Her version adds a gospel feel to Prine's storied song.

"That Song About the Midway," Streetlights (1974)

Another stunning reimagination, this gorgeous Joni Mitchell song — from the nine-time GRAMMY-winner's Clouds — was the opening track on Raitt's 1974 album Streetlights. The blues singer's version drips with soul. She takes this storied song (inspired by Mitchell meeting Leonard Cohen at the 1967 Newport Folk Festival) and gives this folk masterpiece a new spirit — injecting it with a full band sound that makes Raitt's version almost outshine the original.

"Nick of Time," Nick of Time (1989)

The title track from Raitt's commercial comeback and debut with Capitol Records in 1989 is a rumination on aging and the brevity of time. Inspiration came from deep conversations with friends and observations of her own parents getting older ("I see my folks are getting on and I watch their bodies change.") Raitt wrote the bulk of the song during a weeklong retreat in a cabin in Mendocino, California. The resulting mid-tempo ballad — with undertones of the blues — is one of the most endearing compositions Raitt has ever written: relatable and honest. The song was a Top 10 hit on the Adult Contemporary charts and won a GRAMMY for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance.

"Thing Called Love," Nick of Time (1989)

Raitt took this John Hiatt-penned song — two years after he released it himself — and, like so many other originals before (and after) made it her own. What makes the blues-rocker's version unique is the live-off-the-floor feel of a small band jamming in a club; yet, the resulting sound is much bigger. Raitt was helped by the engineering prowess of the late great Ed Cherney, who won a GRAMMY for his work on this record. Her rendition resulted in another hit from Nick of Time, landing at No. 11 on Billboard's Rock charts. The video, starring Dennis Quaid, also helped to ingrain this song into the pop culture canon of the late 1980s.

"I'm in the Mood," The Healer (1990)

Taken from John Lee Hooker's 1990 album The Healer, this duet with the blues legend won the pair a GRAMMY the following year for Best Traditional Blues Performance. Hooker was one of Raitt's heroes; it was a full-circle moment getting the opportunity to record this classic 38 years after it was first a hit.

"Something to Talk About," Luck of the Draw (1991)

From the seven-times platinum Luck of the Draw, this catchy hit song was written by Canadian Shirley Eikhard seven years before it eventually resonated with Raitt on a demo tape Eikhard sent the singer. The hooky track served Raitt's soulful voice seamlessly, creating a combination that resulted in her biggest chart feat to date, landing at No. 5 on the Billboard Hot 100. The song also took home the GRAMMY for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance in 1992, and more than three decades later it remains Raitt's top-selling song — eclipsing more than seven million in sales in the U.S. alone.

"I Can't Make You Love Me" Luck of the Draw (1991)

Raitt followed her biggest pop hit with what would become her biggest ballad. Although Raitt didn't write the sorrowful piano track, her pained-yet-poised delivery is as poignant as the song's narrative of unrequited love. The song proved so moving that it has been covered by George Michael, Bon Iver, Boyz II Men and Adele, the latter of whom called it "just perfect in every single way," and touted Raitt's "stunning" voice. Now Raitt's most-streamed song — and a GRAMMY Hall of Fame inductee — "I Can't Make You Love Me" serves as a testament to Raitt's ability to capture feeling whether or not she's behind the pen.

"Gnawin' On It," Silver Lining (2002)

Raitt co-wrote this gritty, raw slide-guitar song that oozes so much soul with blues guitarist Roy Rogers, who was named after the famed singing cowboy. (Raitt learned her slide style from one of the masters: "Mississippi" Fred McDowell.) This performance from her 2002 Austin City Limits appearance showcases Raitt's down-and-dirty vocals, the interplay between two guitar greats and features plenty of memorable riffs. More than 20 years since this performance was captured, it is still a joy to behold.

"Just Like That," Just Like That (2022)

"Just like that your life can change," Raitt softly sings in this title cut from her 2022 album. Inspired by an emotive news story Raitt saw, the narrative tells of a woman who donated her late son's heart, and years later met the organ's recipient. With gentle finger-picking providing the melody, Raitt relates this heartwarming tale that echoes the mastery of her mentor and dear departed friend John Prine.

Though Raitt has generated several hits by reimagining other's songs, "Just Like That" — which she wrote on her own — shows that her own tales are just as powerful and timeless. While her Song Of The Year win may have been shocking to some, Raitt's recent GRAMMY win confirms the septuagenarian still has something to talk about — and the world is still listening.

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Beyonce 2023 GRAMMY Rewind Hero
Beyoncé at the 2023 GRAMMYs.

Photo: Michael Kovac/Getty Images for The Recording Academy


GRAMMY Rewind: Watch Beyoncé's Heartfelt Speech For Her Record-Breaking Win In 2023

Relive the night Beyoncé received a gramophone for Best Dance/Electronic Album for 'RENAISSANCE' at the 2023 GRAMMYS — the award that made her the most decorated musician in GRAMMY history.

GRAMMYs/Feb 2, 2024 - 05:12 pm

Six years after her last solo studio album, Beyoncé returned to the music industry with a bang thanks to RENAISSANCE. In homage to her late Uncle Johnny, she created a work of art inspired by the sounds of disco and house that wasn't just culturally impactful — it was history-making.

At the 2023 GRAMMYs, RENAISSANCE won Best Dance/Electronic Album. Marking Beyoncé's 32nd golden gramophone, the win gave the superstar the record for most gramophones won by an individual act.

In this episode of GRAMMY Rewind, revisit the historic moment Queen Bey took the stage to accept her record-breaking GRAMMY at the 65th Annual GRAMMY Awards.

"Thank you so much. I'm trying not to be too emotional," Beyoncé said at the start of her acceptance speech. "I'm just trying to receive this night."

With a deep breath, she began to list her praises that included God, her family, and the Recording Academy for their continued support throughout her career. 

"I'd like to thank my Uncle Johnny, who is not here, but he's here in spirit," Beyoncé proclaimed. "I'd like to thank the queer community for your love and inventing this genre."

Watch the video above for Beyoncé's full speech for Best Dance/Electronic Album at the 2023 GRAMMYs. Check back to for more new episodes of GRAMMY Rewind. 

Tune into the 2024 GRAMMYs on Sunday, Feb. 4, airing live on the CBS Television Network (8-11:30 p.m. LIVE ET/5-8:30 p.m. LIVE PT) and streaming on Paramount+ (live and on-demand for Paramount+ with SHOWTIME subscribers, or on-demand for Paramount+ Essential subscribers the day after the special airs).

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Lizzo GRAMMY Rewind Hero
Lizzo at the 2023 GRAMMYs

Photo: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for The Recording Academy


GRAMMY Rewind: Lizzo Thanks Prince For His Influence After "About Damn Time" Wins Record Of The Year In 2023

Watch Lizzo describe how Prince’s empowering sound led her to “dedicate my life to positive music” during her Record Of The Year acceptance speech for “About Damn Time” at the 2023 GRAMMYs.

GRAMMYs/Jan 19, 2024 - 06:00 pm

Since the start of her career, four-time GRAMMY winner Lizzo has been making music that radiates positive energy. Her Record Of The Year win for "About Damn Time" at the 2023 GRAMMYs proved that being true to yourself and kind to one another always wins.

Travel back to revisit the moment Lizzo won her award in the coveted category in this episode of GRAMMY Rewind. 

"Um, huh?" Lizzo exclaimed at the start of her acceptance speech. "Let me tell you something. Me and Adele are having a good time, just enjoying ourselves and rooting for our friends. So, this is an amazing night. This is so unexpected."

Lizzo kicked off her GRAMMY acceptance speech by acknowledging Prince's influence on her sound. "When we lost Prince, I decided to dedicate my life to making positive music," she said. "This was at a time when positive music and feel-good music wasn't mainstream at that point and I felt very misunderstood. I felt on the outside looking in. But I stayed true to myself because I wanted to make the world a better place so I had to be that change."

As tracks like "Good as Hell" and "Truth Hurts" scaled the charts, she noticed more body positivity and self-love anthems from other artists. "I'm just so proud to be a part of it," she cheered.

Most importantly, Lizzo credited staying true to herself despite the pushback for her win. "I promise that you will attract people in your life who believe in you and support you," she said in front of a tearful audience that included Beyoncé and Taylor Swift in standing ovation, before giving a shout-out to her team, family, partner and producers on the record, Blake Slatkin and Ricky Reed

Watch the video above for Lizzo's complete acceptance speech for Record Of The Year at the 2023 GRAMMYs. Check back to for more new episodes of GRAMMY Rewind, and be sure to tune into the 2024 GRAMMYs on Sunday, Feb. 4, airing live on the CBS Television Network (8-11:30 p.m. LIVE ET/5-8:30 p.m. LIVE PT) and streaming on Paramount+ (live and on-demand for Paramount+ with SHOWTIME subscribers, or on-demand for Paramount+ Essential subscribers the day after the special airs).

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Harry Styles AOTY GRAMMY Rewind Hero
Harry Styles at the 2023 GRAMMYs.

Photo: Kevin Mazur


GRAMMY Rewind: Harry Styles Celebrates His Fellow Nominees (And His Biggest Fan) After Album Of The Year Win In 2023

Revisit the moment Harry Styles accepted the most coveted award of the evening for 'Harry's House' and offered a heartfelt nod to his competitors — Beyoncé, Adele, Lizzo, Coldplay and more.

GRAMMYs/Jan 5, 2024 - 06:00 pm

After a wildly successful debut and sophomore record, you'd think it was impossible for Harry Styles to top himself. Yet, his third album, Harry's House, proved to be his most prolific yet.

The critically acclaimed project first birthed Styles' record-breaking, chart-topping single, "As It Was," then landed three more top 10 hits on the Billboard Hot 100 with "Late Night Talking," "Music for a Sushi Restaurant" and "Matilda." The album and "As It Was" scored Styles six nominations at the 2023 GRAMMYs — and helped the star top off his massive Harry's House era with an Album Of The Year win.

In this episode of GRAMMY Rewind, revisit Styles' big moment from last year's ceremony, which was made even more special by his superfan, Reina Lafantaisie. Host Trevor Noah (who will return as emcee for the 2024 GRAMMYs) handed the mic to Lafantaisie to announce Styles as the winner, and the two shared a celebratory hug before Styles took the mic.

"I've been so, so inspired by every artist in this category," said Styles, who was up against other industry titans like Beyoncé, Adele, Lizzo and Coldplay. "On nights like tonight, it's important for us to remember that there is no such thing as 'best' in music. I don't think any of us sit in the studio, making decisions based on what will get us [an award]."

Watch the video above to see Harry Styles' complete acceptance speech alongside his collaborators Kid Harpoon and Tyler Johnson. Check back to for more new episodes of GRAMMY Rewind, and be sure to tune into the 2024 GRAMMYs on Sunday, Feb. 4, airing live on the CBS Television Network (8 -11:30 p.m. LIVE ET/5-8:30 p.m. LIVE PT) and streaming on Paramount+ (live and on demand for Paramount+ with SHOWTIME subscribers, or on demand for Paramount+ Essential subscribers the day after the special airs).

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Joey Alexander
Joey Alexander

Photo: Roy Cox

Exclusive: Joey Alexander Shares Rendition Of Bonnie Raitt's "I Can't Make You Love Me"

On his forthcoming album 'Continuance,' three-time GRAMMY-nominated pianist Joey Alexander is laser-focused on sharing his original music. But he knows when an outside tune is too good to pass up — in this case, Bonnie Raitt's "I Can't Make You Love Me."

GRAMMYs/Oct 12, 2023 - 05:05 pm

Joey Alexander is into primacies and raw materials. Speaking to in 2021, the pianist and composer rhapsodized about the Biblical symbolism of salt — and compared it to the role of the blues across musical idioms.

"The blues is that thing that preserves just like salt — that has inspired us in our ups and downs," he said, while promoting his 2021 single "Under the Sun." Two years later, the blues is still on his mind: "The blues is really a center of power."

Bonnie Raitt's epochal ballad "I Can't Make You Love Me" — written by Mike Reid and Allen Shamblin, assisted by Bruce Hornsby on piano, included on 1991's Luck of the Draw — is drenched in the blues.

On his new album, Continuance, out Nov. 3, Alexander forges ahead with original music, like "Why Don't We," "Zealousy" and "Great is Thy Faithfulness." But such is the power of "I Can't Make You Love Me" that it compelled him to take a detour.

"Bonnie Raitt is such an amazing soul; the way she delivers, the way she sang the song is just amazing," Alexander tells "I'm really glad that I found a song that I can build in my repertoire, as this has become something that is part of me."

Below, Alexander shares an exclusive premiere of "I Can't Make You Love Me"; he spoke with about Continuance — which features Theo Croker on trumpet on four tracks, and his touring bassist, Kris Funn, and drummer, John Davis, throughout.

This interview has been edited for clarity.

What attracted you to Bonnie Raitt's "I Can't Make You Love Me"?

I always find myself in a song from a specific period that connects with people. I didn't know a lot about Bonnie Raitt, but when I first heard the song years back, I wanted to have my stamp on it.

Years later, we discovered it again in the process of making the album. Once it was done, I decided to [include] "I Can Make You Love Me" on the album, with my new material — my original works. I'm really glad that I found a song that I can build in my repertoire, as this has become something that is part of me.

I always played popular songs before. I've played "My Favorite Things," "Over the Rainbow," the Beatles. Definitely, this is one of the best songs ever written.

I'm really thankful that this song is included on the album. Even though it is instrumental, as people hear the song, they can hear the lyrics and [apply them to] the times that they lived. I understand it's a love song — in the song, there's some struggles.

As we mature, I think we can learn a lot just by hearing a song. I think It's a special song.

What was the genesis of Continuance? This is a big leap for you, recording with your touring band for the first time.

We've been touring in this group for two to three years, and we played different music. In the process of making the new album, we just started performing the music, really.

I didn't have a lot of time to prepare the music. I got to do a gig in Seattle before there was a time period for me to prepare the music. [Over] four nights, that was the time period that prepared John and Kris to tune into the music and have their personalities, and I wanted to see if this could work.

I'm glad that we could perform the music, and once we got into the studio, we just kind of  let it fly, and it was amazing. And of course, one of the songs we performed was Bonnie Raitt. So, it was really nice that we could get ourselves ready. The whole process was really organic.

To you, what binds the compositions on Continuance?

The theme is centered around the places where I lived before I was inspired by New York City. Now, because I'm living in Baltimore, Maryland, I'm inspired by living in Baltimore. I live in this neighborhood called Fells Point. It's a nice area right by the water.

So, the song "Blue" is pretty much inspired by just day to day, seeing the water. The water is kind of a reflection of the sky, just how I see it. But it's more than that. It's also talking about music now.

I like to connect "Blue" as something that has to do with the blues. I won't [call it a] style, but a form of expression, because a lot of people express blues in different genres, of course. We all hear a lot in country, rock 'n' roll, and of course, it's one of the important ingredients in jazz.

It binds, this music. The blues is really a center of power.

Theo Croker is a great match for you. Can you talk about meshing with him, and what he brings to Continuance?

I always had forming a new sound in mind, meaning always finding and bringing new instrumentation. So I've always been a fan of Theo. I love his sound. I always thought about having a trumpet player, and Theo was one of the guys that I had in mind.

Even though I performed the music with a trio, I always envisioned that I wanted to do this as a quartet. I reached out to Theo; I guess we already knew each other through social media, but we actually never met, nor played together.

So, the first time we played together was in the studio; we did have a rehearsal before the recording. For some of my music, I didn't really have sheet music. I think I did for just a few songs. Because my approach is, when I hire a musician, I kind of [encourage him] to just use his imagination and internalize the music.

In this case, with Theo, it was kind of by ear. I tried to help him to really get into the music, because there was only one day to really get the music right, so we didn't have a lot of time or preparation.

But Theo is such a creative person, and definitely one of my favorite trumpet players. Stylistically, he brings the vibe to the table, so it was great to see that in person. It was amazing to see that come to life, because I didn't know exactly how the music would play out. I'm glad it worked out.

How does Continuance reflect your evolution as a composer and interpreter?

This is not something new. because my last album, Origin, consists of all my original works.  I would say this is the evolution that continues. This is kind of the album that I felt that I wanted to share. I just wanted to see what I can bring, and how I challenge myself to be a better composer and better leader.

Of course, once in a while I will bring in one song like Bonnie Raitt, or one gospel song, just to put it out there. I always have a little bit of both. But now, I'm focusing on introducing my new music to people. I'm very happy with what I have with this album.

In the past few years, I feel I'm more comfortable in performing my own music and sharing my story in my music. As instrumentalists, we let people imagine what they see in the music and have their stories in my music. So, I won't tell them what the story is about.

As instrumentalists, we can take people to a different place. And so that's kind of my innovation for my music: every time I make an album or perform the music, [I try to conjure] the experience that I want people to get as they listen to the music.

What built your confidence to share your original works, and tell your story?

I think by performing and finding my ground, finding my standing. Because I find that in jazz, we always have to have something new.

And I know people out there, we all are [striving] to bring our own stories in the music, but for me, it's how I connect with the people to music. And it's a funny thing, the Bonnie Raitt song — people just connect to songs like that.

As an instrumentalist, what comes first to me is always great melodies, and great harmonies that come with it. What I need in my music is all those elements together. And so when I find a song like Bonnie Raitt's, I always want to include that piece of music into the table.

I'm thankful for the artists that I have been inspired by. And so I hope that people will be inspired by the music. I hope the people will feel the energy that we have and the love that we have to share with people. That's kind of my hope for people as they check out the album.

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