Midweek Music Break: Bonnie Raitt, “Million Miles” and “You Can’t Fail Me Now”

[Photo: Bonnie Raitt, by Marina Chavez. I love this photograph of her,
which (to my eye) doesn’t look “staged” at all — but utterly

Maybe this is true for women, too. But I’m certain that men of a certain age may recall, circa 1989, watching Bonnie Raitt flirt with a boyish Dennis Quaid in the video for “Thing Called Love.” (Quaid did some flirting of his own, apparently.) They may recall strongly identifying with his response — not just to her, but to her music. What a great song and performance that was. But really, that rollicking Wow, I bet SHE’S fun! number barely hinted at Raitt’s range, which she’d already established in nearly 20 years of developing her craft.

Rolling Stone seems to get it: not only have they placed her as #89 on their list of top 100 guitarists, they also rank her as #50 among the top 100 singers. (And for good measure, her Nick of Time — the album which included “Thing Called Love” — stands as #230 of their top 500 albums.)

Her newest album, Slipstream, is her first in years. Both the guitar and the voice shine throughout; less obviously, she has included no songs of her own, but demonstrates exceptional taste in other songwriters’ work. I’m particularly taken by the third and fourth tracks, listed respectively in the title of this post.

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Midweek Music Break: Jimmie Vaughan et al., “Six Strings Down”

Bonnie Raitt was playing nearby this weekend. We didn’t get to see her, sadly, but I thought this week I’d feature a selection from her most recent album (Slipstream, released in the spring).

Unfortunately, in the process of looking at videos of her music I fell down a very deep rabbit hole. (I’ll feature Slipstream in a later post.) I gotta tell you: the woman has played gigs with an unbelievable range of fellow performers, including this gem from the mid-1990s.

Blues-guitarist great Stevie Ray Vaughan died in a helicopter crash in 1990. In 1996, a pantheon of fellow blues artists got together for a tribute concert, later released as a DVD; the emotional high point was the number below, “Six Strings Down,” written by Jimmie Vaughan (who also does the lead vocals) in honor of his brother. Playing and singing with Jimmie Vaughan are Eric Clapton, Buddy Guy, B.B. King, Bonnie Raitt, Robert Cray, Dr. John, Art Neville (on keyboard), and Stevie Ray Vaughan’s own band, Double Trouble.



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A Crowded Vacuum

[Image: Giorgio de Chirico, Melancholy and Mystery of a Street]

From whiskey river:

The River

This is my formula for the fall of things:
we come to a river we always knew we’d have to cross.
It ferries the twilight down through fieldworks

of corn and half-blown sunflowers.
The only sounds, one lost cicada calling to itself
and the piping of a bird that will never have a name.

Now tell me there is a pause
where we know there should be an end;
then tell me you too imagined it this way

with our shadows never quite touching the river
and the river never quite reaching the sea.

(John Glenday, from Grain [source])


The logic of emptiness is wonderfully air-tight. Like all simple truths, its clarity is immediately self evident. We are. And there is no moment in which we are separate and apart: we are always connected — to past, to future, to others, to objects, to air, earth, sky. Every thought, every emotion, every action, every moment of time, has multiple causes and reverberations, tendrils of culture, history, hurt and joy that stretch out mysteriously and endlessly.

(Norman Fischer [source])


An autumn night
don’t think your life
didn’t matter.


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Make Your World

[Above: an image designed to induce binocular rivalry: an attempt by one’s senses to forge a single thing from two conflicting images. See here for instructions on how to use.]

From whiskey river:

When you have lived as long as I, you will see that every human being has his shell, and that you must take the shell into account. By the shell I mean the whole envelope of circumstances. There is no such thing as an isolated man or woman; we are each of us made up of a cluster of appurtenances. What do you call one’s self? Where does it begin? where does it end? It overflows into everything that belongs to us — and then it flows back again. I know that a large part of myself is in the dresses I choose to wear. I have a great respect for things! One’s self — for other people — is one’s expression of one’s self; and one’s house, one’s clothes, the books one reads, the company one keeps — these things are all expressive.

(Henry James [source])


We have to recognize that the world is not something sculptured and finished, which we as perceivers walk through like patrons in a museum; the world is something we make through the act of perception.

(Terence McKenna [source])



Moments of great calm,
Kneeling before an altar
Of wood in a stone church
In summer, waiting for the God
To speak; the air a staircase
For silence; the sun’s light
Ringing me, as though I acted
A great rôle. And the audiences
Still; all that close throng
Of spirits waiting, as I,
For the message.
Prompt me, God;
But not yet. When I speak,
Though it be you who speak
Through me, something is lost.
The meaning is in the waiting.

(R. S. Thomas [source])

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