Country Throwback: Bonnie Raitt Honors John Prine with ‘Angel From Montgomery’ Performance at 2020 Grammys

by Quentin Blount

It’s another edition of our country throwback series, and this time we are going back just one year ago to a Bonnie Raitt performance at the 2020 Grammy Awards.

It came as no surprise to any of us when blues and rock artist Bonnie Raitt chose to honor country/folk singer-songwriter John Prine, who was in the business for five decades before his passing on April 7, 2020. The Recording Academy decided to honor Prine as one of seven prestigious artists with the Lifetime Achievement Award.

Raitt, who covered Prine’s song “Angel from Montgomery” in 1974, performed it once again at the 2020 Grammys, paying tribute to the man who wrote it. Playing an acoustic rendition of the song, Raitt’s voice shines and stands out as the only sound to be heard other than that from her acoustic guitar.

Meanwhile, the Grammys have not yet released a full video of the Bonnie Raitt tribute to John Prine. However, you can relive the singer’s moving Grammys salute to Prine by taking a look at the video below. There’s no doubt in our minds that Prine was sincerely honored by her performance.

History of Bonnie Raitt and ‘Angel from Montgomery’

John Prine was initially discovered by Kris Kristofferson. Afterward, Prine went on to release his debut, self-titled album in 1971. That is the album which contained “Angel from Montgomery.”

Prine wrote “Angel from Montgomery” after one of his friends suggested writing “another song about old people,” referring to Prine’s song “Hello in There.”

While the song was popular among fans, even other artists took notice and made many cover versions. But it was the 1974 rendition by Bonnie Raitt that put the track on the map.

Raitt’s version of “Angel from Montogomery” appeared on her album Streetlights. Although it was never released as a single, it soon became a fan-favorite song of hers. It still remains one of her signature songs to this day.

Raitt interviewed with Performing Songwriter Magazine years ago. During which, she explained what “Angel from Montgomery” meant to her fans and why it had become so popular.

“I think ‘Angel from Montgomery’ probably has meant more to my fans and my body of work than any other song, and it will historically be considered one of the most important ones I’ve ever recorded,” Raitt explained. “It’s just such a tender way of expressing that sentiment of longing – like ‘Hello In There’ – without being maudlin or obvious. It has all the different shadings of love and regret and longing. It’s a perfect expression from [a] wonderful genius.”