Monday, August 17, 2009

I Don't Know Jack (Or Bonnie)

Anyone who knows me can attest that I know next to nothing about music. I can read music, I can play it and sing it, I have the very vaguest idea about music theory but ask me about a band, pretty much any band, and I'll be completely clueless. One time I brought this gorgeous song to C-ann that I so wanted to sing. I'd just discovered it on the soundtrack to Practical Magic.

It was Joni Mitchell's Case of You (first released in 1971).

I am perpetually a little behind the times. Just by 40 years or so. I love music, I just don't absorb it in the same way that some people do. I know so many people with encyclopedic knowledge of popular music throughout my lifetime and beyond. They are constantly adding to it with new bands and genres and songs. There's no way I'll ever catch up. So I generally just try to grab onto something I like as it whistles by me in the wind.

About a decade ago Bonnie Raitt whistled by thanks to Pony Express. I have continued to love her work but haven't learned a whole lot about her except that she's a classic and to be respected. She's currently on tour with Taj Mahal and I caught her on Craig Ferguson's show. The mix was terrible and you could tell she was pissed but it was still a great performance, reminding me to get back to listening to her. Right after that Courtney made Raitt the subject of Thank You Thursday on Feministing and I finally managed to learn some more about her.

She is and was an activist of some note in service of social justice causes. She has studied and performed with a variety of legends of music in many genres. She went to Harvard. My favorite quote from the piece is, "In a time when so many white musicians seem to take what they want from historically black music and then promptly get amnesia about where it came from, Raitt has always honored her influences." If you're looking something to listen to you're probably way ahead of me and already have Raitt in rotation but in case you haven't...allow me to recommend a classic.

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