Grammy-winning legend Bonnie Raitt returns with her 20th album Dig In Deep on Feb. 26. Here, she tells EW how she overcame loss to write her largest collection of original material in almost two decades—and why she’s only getting deeper 40 years into her career.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Dig In Deep has more original songs than any of your albums since 1998’s Fundamental. What inspired you to write so much?
Raitt: I had a decade of a lot of loss. [Raitt’s mother, father, and brother all died between 2004 and 2009.] I was depleted, but like when your car runs out of battery and your friend pushes you, I got a push. My guitarist George Marinelli sent me the track, “If You Need Somebody,” and I got the wheels going. I knew I was going to write something about dad, and it was going to be said, so I was glad to break that block.
The album has uptempo rockers, too.
We were feeling pretty frisky, I must say. There are a couple of those ballads, but I like to put together a collection the way you would put a show together. You don’t want to have people rushing to the doors weeping.
I’m a big INXS fan. I always wanted to slow this down, play a little bit and then stop and [sing], “You’re one of my kind!” [Laughs] It feels as sexy as it sounds. I hope they like our version. And I just love Los Lobos. The music was hellacious enough where I couldn’t help but find it irresistible. I put it on there just so we would tear it up live.
A number of young artists cite you as a major influence. Do you feel like to have a role to playe for younger women?
Oh, how sweet! How great! I’ve never seen my name on a list of anybody ever mentioning anything. [Laughs] I don’t mean to be falsely humble, but I literally have not seen it before. I’m thrilled.
Forty years into your career, what keeps you motivated?
I was only interested in doing this if I could continue to grow — find new songs and new combinations of ways to play things. My role models were old R&B and blues artists, like Tony Bennett and my dad; artists who’ve gone into their older years growing richer. I’m modeling myself after them. People only get more interesting and deeper as they get older.