“We’re having such a great time,” Raitt tells Billboard. “The two bands love each other, and James and I have known each other since I was 20 and he was not much older and I opened for him at Harvard University. And of course we’ve worked together on a lot of different environmental shows. I don’t get to see him that much — at the Grammys, and occasionally we’ll run into each other at benefits. This is the first time we’ve toured together. We’ve been talking about doing this for a long time, and it just worked out in my schedule.”
Raitt has three more shows with Taylor this week, wrapping up on Friday (Aug. 11) at the iconic Fenway Park in Boston, where both have musical roots. “There’s a lot of love and appreciation” of each other, according to Raitt, who joins Taylor for a rendition of “Close Your Eyes” to close each night. “We did Fenway together in 2015, and it was so special. It never gets old. It’s been really warm, and the audiences have been incredible. To hear that many people hushed quiet on the ballads is really an extraordinary thing for me. I could keep doing this for a very long time.”
Raitt certainly hopes there will be more. “There’s a lot of cities on the West Coast that are upset that we’re not coming,” she notes, “so I hope we’ll be able to do it.”
In the meantime Raitt has a few more shows to play before wrapping up the touring cycle for her latest album, 2016’s Dig In Deep, at the Telluride Blues & Brews Festival in Colorado. The next album, however, is a distant thought at the moment: “I haven’t been thinking about the new record yet,” Raitt says, “but I’ve been listening to a lot of… Friends send me songs that are really great, and when I get off the road I’m going to take a break, for starters, but already the seeds are planted. I have no idea what the next project will be. There’s an awful lot of people doing interesting things and asking me to guest on them. It’s really tough to juggle all that, so I’ll think about what I’m going to do next when I feel ready. I’m not going to be in a big hurry.”
You can probably bet whatever Raitt does will have some topical direction. She’s been including the politically charged “The Comin’ Round Is Going Through” from Dig In Deep in her sets, and as she begins gathering material for what’s next she anticipates “there’s going to be some fine commentary coming out” about the Trump administration and its policies.
“Things have gotten more absurd and more difficult and more scary and depressing than I ever even expected,” Raitt says. “Every day is a challenge. We just have to try to stay in the positive solutions and to try be active and promote what I can to make a change happen and, as much as I can, support the people who are working on the ground and stand up for what we think is right and not put our head in the sand. But I really have to parse how much of the time I expose myself to the news cycle and reading too many articles and things. There’s so much that’s just upsetting; I would end up pulling my covers over my head if I looked at it all. I have to figure out what times of the day I’m strong enough to take it but not look away too much, either.”