All right. I love her. I have loved her for 40 years. Maybe more.
We don’t meet very often, every couple of years. That only makes the heart grow fonder. We meet in places such as Boston, Fort Myers, Hampton Beach, Concord and Portland. It is always loud and noisy, with thousands of people around. We like it that way.
Blue Eyes knows all about it. Hell, I think she loves her, too, just not as much. Her lyrics echo in my mind.
“Make me an angel that flies from Montgomery…”
Bonnie Raitt made another appearance at Merrill Auditorium in Portland last week. The show started with a standing ovation, an indication of the hold that Raitt has on her fans. Apparently, it’s not just me.
I saw her for the first time around 1970 in some black-and-white television broadcast out of Boston, probably public television. I was familiar with the blues and the slide guitar. But I had never seen a white woman play that instrument and sing the blues like she meant it, like she had lived it. I didn’t know she was a redhead, but I knew she was as sexy as they come.
Attitude is everything.
“I can’t make you love me if you don’t.”
There was something in the way she moved, all right. She was as sassy as they come and her between-songs patter indicated that she just loved being a woman, thank you.
“Women be wise. Keep your mouth shut. Don’t advertise your man.”
Her father was John Raitt, a booming Broadway singer. Her mother was a pianist, so the music was always there. She started off in the Boston clubs and just got bigger and bigger. Some of us didn’t like it when she hit the big time. We didn’t want to share.
Last Thursday, she strutted out on the Merrill stage, at 62, still looking fine in tight jeans. Naturally, she brought great music and musicians with her. She always does. Over the years she has introduced me to acts such as Lyle Lovett, Bruce Cockburn, Keb Mo, Bryan Adams, Taj Mahal, the Fabulous Thunderbirds and Ruth Brown.
This year, it was Marc Cohn, who was new to me. It seems that he wrote “Walking in Memphis,” but that was just the start. His acoustic set forced me to buy his album of 1970 cover songs from iTunes.
Her own band on this tour consisted of another “new guy,” Mike Finnegan. I thought Mike Finnegan was a Maine banker who ended up running the Maine State Housing Authority, was the money man for John Purcell’s Congressional campaign and still plays a mean “Louie, Louie” with his manic brothers. But this was another Mike Finnegan who has played with everyone from Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young to Jimi Hendrix, Tower of Power and the Manhattan Transfer.
I liked Finnegan right away, even more when he took a solo for one of my old favorites “I’ve Got News for You,” an old Ray Charles song which I used to sing at the top of my lungs at every opportunity.
“You said before we met that your life was awful tame. But when I took you to a nightclub, the whole band knew your name.”
Raitt did a number of songs from her new album, “Slipstream.” But some of us were there for the old songs, the ones that had taken us through a decade or two… or four.
“It takes a whole lot of medicine for me to pretend I’m someone else.”
The fear is that Raitt is so popular (and rich) that she won’t need to tour anymore. I suspect this tour was organized only to support the new album. Every time Raitt comes, I fear it will be her last visit and I will never see her again.
On the stage last week, she said she wanted to rock into her seventies. Maybe she is just letting me down easy.
I know she would love me if she knew me.
Send complaints and compliments to Emmet Meara at firstname.lastname@example.org.