Nick of Time [was] released on March 21, 1989.
Nick of Time topped the Billboard 200 chart, selling five million copies, and won three Grammy Awards, including Album Of The Year. In 2003, the album was ranked number 229 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.
Before work began on Nick of Time, Raitt had been courted by several major labels. It was during this time that Raitt met producer Don Was through Hal Wilner, who was putting together Stay Awake, a tribute album to Disney music for A&M. Was and Wilner both wanted Raitt to sing lead on an adult-contemporary arrangement of "Baby Mine" (the lullaby from Dumbo) created by Was. Raitt was very pleased with the sessions, and she asked Was to produce her next album.
Bonnie: "I wanted to make a record that was more like Give It Up. It's a return to roots, as it were. It's been really refreshing for me to play a lot of guitar and just go back to stripped down production... In many ways this is like a first album. It's for a new label and getting all of this attention and critical acclaim. And it's my first sober album. My first single and sober album, being this age and being straight..."
My family had recently moved back to Atlanta from Puerto Rico (see my Love Shack post) and a friend had an extra ticket for Bonnie Raitt at the Fox Theater, with Lyle Lovett and His Large Band opening - he didn't have to ask me twice!
I vividly recall the spirit of the evening, as Bonnie was turning 40 the following day (which means our show was November 7, 1989) - the evening was a celebration of her birthday, her sobriety and this amazing kick-*ss album which finally gained her the commercial success she deserved as well as the personal happiness that had eluded her up to that point.
The album was equal parts growl and girl, empowering yet fragile - the popular video with Dennis Quaid (which seems to have been pulled from YouTube) of John Hiatt's Thing Called Love was a call to action for women to take charge of their own romantic/sexual destiny.
And Love Letter? (more about writer Bonnie Hayes here) - there's a line between hopeful and stalking... and Ms. Raitt's pleading guitar and insistent voice walk it finely (in all definitions of the word)...