The September issue of Relix will land in mailboxes and newsstands over the next few days, so I wanted to share this “bonus track” from my cover story conversation with Bonnie Raitt and Grace Potter. The starting point was Raitt’s politically charged track “The Comin’ Round Is Going Through,” which appears on her latest album, Dig in Deep.
Bonnie Raitt: I don’t lecture, but I have a specific way that I introduce the song. Citizens United and the dumbing down of the news and the loss of rational debate over anything of depth these days are the most significant threats to democracy in this country. I’m going to speak out about it because it’s become an insult to everybody who is putting themselves on the line for the hope of a free society that’s representative of the people, as opposed to those at the top who buy their way in.
So I encourage people to vote, and I try to be somewhat—not lighthearted—but I emphasize, “Don’t give up and don’t be discouraged. We can get through this.” I don’t need to preach—people have their own opinions and, God knows, the dialogue in this country for the next few months is going to be even more all-encompassing. We don’t need to be talking about it on stage.
Our purpose is to uplift and celebrate and inspire and commiserate, and do all those things where we’re all one tribe. That experience is a two-hour show in a very special place, where we go through every possible emotion with songs that span many decades and mean so much to everyone that, by the end of the evening, we will have gone through something together that’s uplifted all of us. At least, that’s how I feel.
Grace Potter: That’s the gift that we are lucky enough to bring to the world. Sometimes, the message can resonate through you without you having to say it; other times, it does take putting your foot down and speaking out.
I haven’t been talking about it directly at my shows so much as feeling the energy and providing a platform for participation. The invitation I bring is that HeadCount has been with us on tour, offering an opportunity for people to sign up to vote. A lot of kids who are in college think that they can’t register to vote because they’re not in their home state, or they don’t know what that process is like because they’re very young. So I feel lucky that I have the ability to invite people into that conversation.
Bonnie Raitt: I think it’s so great that you have HeadCount. Encouraging people to vote is the thing that’s most important, along with getting volunteers to drive people to the vote and joining the fight to keep elections fair and monitored.
There’s been tremendous enthusiasm. The greatest thing about this election is the fact that Bernie got as much traction that he did, and that so many young people are so motivated. I’m sure they are for the Trump side as well; it’s probably going to be a really close call. We all need to be engaged because the implications of either side winning are devastating to the other side. I wish this country wasn’t so polarized, but we need people to get out to the polls and really educate themselves about what the repercussions of one versus the other are.
So stay involved, remain informed and be sure to vote…