Song of the Day #4,597: ‘Angel From Montgomery’ – Bonnie Raitt

Both Amy and Dana included Bonnie Raitt’s recording of the John Prine classic ‘Angel From Montgomery’ on their list of favorite songs. This is a stone-cold classic, no doubt.

This track appeared on Raitt’s 1974 album Streetlights, her fourth release. She was pressured by her label to work with an established producer who could give her work more of a mainstream pop sheen, as opposed to the raw blues sound of her first few albums. She agreed, but wasn’t happy about it, and the album was a critical and commercial failure.

Funny how those inauspicious circumstances can produce a song that remains one of her most beloved recordings to this day. And while Raitt’s ‘Angel From Montgomery’ might have polished production, her vocals are pure soul.

The only Bonnie Raitt albums I know well are her multi-platinum hits, 1989’s Nick of Time and 1991’s Luck of the Draw. Those are exceptional, but I bet every one of her 17 studio albums harbors treasures like this.

I am an old woman
Named after my mother
My old man is another
Child who’s grown old

If dreams were thunder
And lightning was desire
This old house would’ve burned down
A long time ago

Make me an angel
That flies from Montgomery
Make me a poster
Of an old rodeo
Just give me one thing
That I can hold on to
To believe in this livin’
Is just a hard way to go

When I was a young girl
I had me a cowboy
He weren’t much to look at
Just a free ramblin’ man
That was a long time
And no matter how I tried
The years just flow by
Like a broken down dam

Make me an angel
That flies from Montgomery
Make me a poster
Of an old rodeo
Just give me one thing
That I can hold on to
To believe in this livin’
Is just a hard way to go

There’s flies in the kitchen
I can hear all their buzzin’
And I ain’t done nothing since I woke up today
How the hell can a person
Go to work in the morning
Come home in the evening
And have nothing to say

Make me an angel
That flies from Montgomery
Make me a poster
Of an old rodeo
Just give me one thing
That I can hold on to
To believe in this livin’
Is just a hard way to go

8 thoughts on “Song of the Day #4,597: ‘Angel From Montgomery’ – Bonnie Raitt

  1. Dana Gallup says:

    A stone cold classic indeed! To avoid duplication with Amy’s list, I considered a few other great Bonnie Raitt songs such as the gorgeous “I Can’t Make You Love Me,” but, in the end, the classic of which I never grow tired and seem to appreciate more each time I hear it won out.

    • Clay says:

      So you really did approach this from an artist-first perspective, it seems. As in, you wanted an Indigo Girls and Bonnie Raitt song on the list but it didn’t necessarily HAVE to be the ones you chose (even if those eventually earned the spot).

      • Dana says:

        Well, yes and no. I had initially picked “Angel from Montgomery” and “Closer to FIne” as favorite songs, period, but then, when I saw they were also on Amy’s list (along with a number of other duplications), I considered whether there was another song from these same artists that was either more “me” (as Amy described it) or that I liked equally well.

  2. Amy says:

    I’m not religious, but there are some musical moments that tap into that spiritual element of me that might have had me speaking in tongues had I been born in another place or time. Watching Raitt perform this song – or almost any song, to be honest – is sublime, and attending her live shows is my kind of church. I, too, only “owned” (when owning was a thing) the two albums you mentioned, but I never feel less enjoyment hearing her sing a song with which I am unfamiliar. In fact, my first exposure to this song was hearing Raitt perform it live in the late 80’s (or early 90’s?) in Gainesville. Prine’s already perfect song is graced and somehow even elevated by Raitt’s performance into something utterly extraordinary.

  3. Peg says:

    I am fairly new to this song and John Prine for that matter. Heard it sung by Bonnie Raitt in a live concert thanks to Amy and Dana ❤️ It’s a wonderful song

  4. andrea katz says:

    Stayed too long at the fair, 1972, is the best album and that song knocks all others on their butts. There…I have spoken!

  5. Maddie says:

    I don’t think I fully fell for this song until I heard it again, pretty recently, in the soundtrack for the movie Wild Rose. It’s a beautiful song and definitely made me want to hear more Bonnie Raitt.

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