Bonnie Raitt had been thinking about working with Grammy-winning producer Joe Henry for years. And Henry had been kicking around the idea of reaching out to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member whose voice he adores forever.
It wasnt until mutual friend Allen Toussaint made a cosmic connection that the two finally got together, launching Raitt on the journey to Slipstream, her first new album in seven years. It was released Tuesday.
During a recording session with Aaron Neville, Toussaint coyly suggested that Henry work with Raitt in the future. And when Toussaint speaks, Henry always listens.
Hes not like anybody else on this earth, Henry said. Hes like Yoda.
The producer called the performer shortly thereafter and, as the great New Orleans producer and performer suspected, the chemistry between Raitt and Henry was dynamite.
I was about a month away from thinking of calling and I got the contact from my office saying Joe wants to speak to you, Raitt said. And I just thought it was so synchronistic. It was one of those really great times, a really great phone call.
That first call went on forever.
I didnt even do that when I was in high school, talk to someone on the phone for three hours, but we did, Henry said.
That conversation led to several more and a flurry of emails, and eventually an invitation to come to Henrys home studio. He offered her his assistance and told her that if she would pay for the time of his musicians, the engineer and the catering, he would offer his services and his studio for free.
Henrys invite came after a long period of relative inactivity for Raitt, 62. Shed lost her parents, her brother and a close friend over a five-year period that included the release of her last album, 2005s Souls Alike. So she took a break. After two years of little more than the occasional show, she began missing the road. But she didnt think she was ready to put the energy into the recording and promotional work that was necessary produce an album, on which she could hang a tour.
So she really didnt have elaborate expectations when she joined Henry. They thought theyd spend a few days on a handful of songs, but after three days, they had nine.
It was like the pilot light was on, but he turned the gas up, Raitt said.