Bonnie Raitt, she’s still in the mood. On her new album Dig in Deep, the veteran singer-guitarist (who plays Sony Centre on March 15) goes sexy and slinky with a daring cover of INXS’s Need You Tonight. We spoke to her from London.
Most of the articles on you these days mention your age, 66, which, I must say, is a good-looking number, aesthetically, on the page. But how does it feel?
Well, in America, Route 66 is mythical. But, you know, people look so different at age 70 or 80 than they did when I was a kid. You look at Mick and Keith and CSN and Neil Young and other artists who are getting older; they don’t look doddering. People are taking better care of themselves. So, this 66 feels pretty great, actually.
Elton John recently said that he was glad to be out of the game, or the competition, and happy to just make music for music’s sake. But you guys do have egos, don’t you? You want to sell records?
Ego and game aren’t words I associate with. I’m not in it to be better than someone else. I started out as an FM album artist, not in the mainstream. That’s where I’m comfortable. Now there’s an umbrella term called “Americana,” and there’s a slew of people like John Hiatt, John Prine and Little Feat and many people like myself who don’t fit into country or rock or blues. Those of us who were lucky enough to have started when it was a more innocent smaller business, if you’ve been able to keep your health and your chops and your fans, there’s no sign of diminishing for us.
On the new album, you’ve contributed more songwriting than you have on the two previous records. I’m guessing we won’t be hearing the politically charged The Comin’ Round Is Going Through on the Trump campaign.
I guess not. But I wrote it for both sides of the spectrum, so we could all share in the disgust that big money has hijacked politics. Too much of the pie is enjoyed by those at the top.
Are you feeling the Bern, as they say?
Oh, I love Bernie Sanders. I always have. I think it’s absolutely astonishing that he’s motivated a whole new generation of kids. It’s a breath of fresh air. But I’m sure people on the other side who approve of Donald Trump feel the same way.
I imagine you do not.
You probably know enough about me to know that I’m not thrilled with fear-mongering and bullying. I hope that he does not get the nomination.
As provocative as The Comin’ Round Is Going Through is, I have to say that your cover of INXS’s Need You Tonight is the sexiest thing you’ve done since you and John Lee Hooker were in the mood back in ’89.
I’m really glad you picked up on that, because that’s why I cut it. I love the way it makes me feel. Ever since I first heard that song I wanted to slow it down and add a slinky guitar.
It had me blushing.
All right, Brad! I hope it makes a lot of people blush. Kids might gag when they hear it from someone my age, but you know what? It’s going around. It doesn’t stop just because you’re getting older.
Bonnie Raitt plays March 15, 8 p.m. $59.30 to $103.89. Sony Centre, 1 Front St. E., 1-855-985-5000 or ticketmaster.ca.
This interview has been edited and condensed.Report Typo/Error