We all know what a treasure Bonnie Raitt is. What a woman–with such a voice, such guitar brilliance, and success over forty years, to then have such humility, appreciation of us out there, such joy in her work, and such immediacy in her presence. She is a goddess…!
At her concert, she was celebrating the beauty of the Greek Theater and the towering trees encircling us. The Greek opened on Sept. 29th, 1929 eighty-three years ago, just weeks before the stock market crash. It was the perfect venue for Bonnie’s intimate performance for 5800 fans.
Bonnie chatted a lot and spoke of her Dad, John Raitt who was still singing his hits til age 88. She plans to sing and play–with the same hair-do! with a walker if necessary. She hinted it might be a hover craft by then… You can watch and listen to one of her songs from Saturday night:
I’ve always loved how musicians get to age gracefully without too much
flak from the public. Actresses might feel put out to pasture, but Ella Fitzgerald just became more of a legend as she aged, and Eubie Blake played piano til 101. Only the Stones get picked on for being too old– even as they play with the exuberance of an eight-yr old. Bonnie seemed to revel in her age and her many decades of doing what she loves. She gave birthday wishes to her guitarist: “Sixty Baby! Welcome to the deep end…!”
Her ballads cut deep but then she rocked out with Elvis’ “Big Hunk of Love.” No sense of ‘age appropriateness’ when it comes to music–it is so egalitarian. With these determined aging musicians you usually witness an increase in skill and art. They seem to only get better–like fine wine? Yet it is our generation which is the first to have to ‘grapple’ with the idea of aging since we invented “Youth Culture” and never thought we would ever grow old. Before that, eighteen year olds immediately donned ‘grown up’ clothing and became adults fast. No extended adolescence. So we are all in shock it seems as one or another organ or joint becomes painful. Mortality? What’s that?! Can we maintain a youthful maturity between adolescence and obsolescence? If we cultivate Joy and encourage our playful self, we can keep a grounded spirit ever growing and emanating outwards.
Bonnie comes from a long line of inveterate doers–She played a song
for her late Mother–a pianist and an untiring activist. I was friends
with her Dad John Raitt, the magnetic Broadway & Hollywood musical
star, and his cultivated, accomplished wife Rosemary, on the board of
Pepperdine University. They were both active, attractive octogenarians. After coming for dinner, they took us along to Bonnie’s concert where he stepped out and sang “Oklahoma” and “Oh What a Beautiful Morning”. They didn’t DO ‘aging’; they did LIVING…to the hilt! Their lust for life was contagious to the end of their lives. All the Raitts share a tradition of service and taking care of others, no matter what their age. Bonnie uses her music to promote many causes, especially against nuclear proliferation.
My son Adam, DJ and engineer at KCSN radio, got four tickets for the show. He LOVES Bonnie. Do catch her in concert if you can and hear her new album Slipstream. Bonnie’s prowess on the electric slide guitar garnered her the first signature Fender guitar named after a woman. That voice that can change from husky, smokey, to a ringing bell. Sultry and soft, she is a real steel Magnolia…