Song of the Week – I Can’t Make You Love Me


I Can’t Make You Love Me – Bonnie Raitt

Today I stumbled across a video of Kiwi artists Ginny Blackmore and Stan Walker performing a cover of I Can’t Make You Love Me. The link flashed up on my Twitter feed and a moment of panic ran through me as I clicked play on the video – what if it’s not any good? This is easily one of my most favourite songs ever, I love it with a passion and I am terrified by the thought of someone butchering it. But actually, this Kiwi duo did a superb job. Blackmore’s voice is pitch perfect, soft but strong on the important notes, and well controlled. As for Walker, his falsetto is unreal. His performance in this song showcases a new side of him as a muscian for me. Despite a few too many trills for my liking, I think he sings this song with the passion and poise it deserves. A round of applause for the pair!

Check out their cover here:

Then I started thinking about another special cover of this song. It gets me every time. In February 2012 Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon and Sean Carey did a live recording of five songs at AIR Studios Lyndhurst Hall. As a big fan of the group I was first in line to check out the new video. It’s a spectacular performance of their hits Wash, Hinnom, TX and Beth/Rest (well worth a watch in its entirety on YouTube if you have a spare 25minutes). But the most exciting part about it was when I saw I Can’t Make You Love Me on the playlist.

The pair bring this song to life in such a different way. It’s a very personalised, unique version but in no way does it lose the heart of Raitt’s song. Sean Carey and Justin Vernon each play a beatuiful Steinway and Sons open-top grand piano and the sound quality is chilling. Carey takes the first verse and chorus of the song and performs it in a higher key than Raitt would, complimenting his voice and giving the song an entirely different sound while still maintaining it’s unique slow pace and haunting piano.

Then in comes Vernon. Prepare yourself for the spine tingles, he blows it out of the park. In his classic falsetto he takes the song up a notch and as Carey joins him on the piano the song continues to build and build. The tune is perfectly Bon Iver-ised. It’s impossible not to love.

Watch their AIR Studios performance here (Skip to approx 8 minutes for I Can’t Make You Love Me) :

But of course nothing tops the original, ever! Bonnie Raitt is a true legend for writing such a beautiful song and singing it with such powerful elegance. This song will forever be a favourite and I’m sure many more people will cover it in years to come. I just hope they do it as much justice as the lot above because it don’t get much better than this!

The original:


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Philippa Ormrod

Facebook: Twitter: @pipormy Instagram: @pipormy I'm in my happy place when listening to music, at a gig or investigating the latest new artists. I've decided it's time for me to stop pestering my friends and family every time I want to rant or rave about the latest goings on in the music world so here I am. I hope you'll enjoy my Pip Squeaks.

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