Cover Story

Bon Iver covers Bonnie Raitt

July 10, 2011 1 Comment

Since Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon performed Bonnie Raitt’s “I Can’t Make You Love Me” on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon in May, it’s been flogged and blogged all over the Interweb. But his cover, which also incorporates the chorus to Raitt’s “Nick Of Time” at the end, was made available on iTunes only this past week, the b-side to the new Bon Iver single, “Calgary.”

Written by Mike Reid and Allan Shamblin, “I Can’t Make You Love Me” was the second single from Raitt’s 1991 album, Luck Of The Draw, the follow-up to her 1989 Grammy-winning set, Nick Of Time (on which she’d penned the title track). Connecting to the raw emotion in the song, Raitt recorded her vocals in one take, with Bruce Hornsby accompanying her on electric piano. A hit for her, “I Can’t Make You Love Me” was quickly elevated to modern-standard status, and has since been covered by several marquee names, including Prince, George Michael, Patti LaBelle, and Boyz II Men.

In a Billboard interview, Vernon said he’d drop everything to work with Raitt. “She’s our greatest singer, and the most underrated guitar player.” I’ve been lucky to catch Raitt in concert twice, and not only is she an extraordinarily talented musician, she’s also so effortlessly cool on stage.

Raitt’s just got it in spades, and Bon Iver’s lovely cover of “I Can’t Make You Love Me” is bound to make Vernon’s dream of collaborating with her a reality. Hear here:

Adele, who’s gone on record with her love for Bon Iver (“The soundtrack to my heart,” she says), treated audiences to her own cover of “I Can’t Make You Love Me” in London during the iTunes Festival last Thursday. Listen and compare here.

Purchase Bon Iver – “I Can’t Make You Love Me / Nick Of Time” (Bonnie Raitt cover) via iTunes.