Rita Coolidge – Return Of Rita

Of all the album releases that have come our way this year, the warmest and most boldly colourful is probably Safe In The Arms Of Time. So the chance to speak with the veteran songstress about her latest material, inspirations and approach to the songs was more than welcome. Ms Coolidge is responsive, informative and balanced, as this conversation should illustrate…

Matt Beard Photography

Good afternoon, Ms Coolidge – and thank you for your time

Oh thank you for inviting me, it’s wonderful to be able to speak with you..I am so looking forward to coming over to the UK

I’ve been listening to the new record and I’d love to talk about the songs you have included on Safe In The Arms Of Time and without reading any of the notes I just listened to it in order just to get a clean impression. My overall feeling was that from the delivery and confidence that spiritually you are maybe in a good place, right now.

I think that’s a perfect summary of what I am creating, right now. Yes I believe I am in a very good place right now, absolutely and if that is your perception then it’s quite correct. The songs I have chosen, well yes they very much reflect what’s going on in my own life right now. ..and beyond that to an extent in America, in the world, you could say

I think the strength of the record for me, as a listener – given that I know a lot about US and West Coast music – is that your songs very much centre on The Human Condition. Much in the way that Dylan and James Taylor’s does…is that a fair thing to say?

I think that is so, I think it is important that songs can do that, be relatable..not just the world around us but what is happening to people, how their lives evolve and sometimes might challenge them. Some of the songs are strongly about making the world a better place, somehow. A song like Spirit World is definitely aiming in that direction.

Ah! I had written down ‘solid rocker, great guitars, Inspired by The News’! Are your lyrics often fuelled by The News as we get it, 24 hours a day?

Absolutely, in this country you are surrounded by The News, a lot of it bad or disturbing. We are all so connected and constantly. It’s therefore so important that people that people have a voice, to express whenever they might need to how they feel about what is occurring – to them and of course, to others. And to contradict all that and vow to make the world a much better place to live in ! Meaning we all join hands and push for that goal. We need the balance back in our lives.

I’m attracted to the song We Are Blood. It seems very positive, to me.

(Ponders) Well you know I am Native American. We call each other Blood. That’s been in our culture for many centuries. That’s about two people that become so close, that they can feel each other’s love all the time. It’s the sound of Native Americans joining together for mutual strength and comfort.

Another strong song here that to me as a player sounds like a set-starter is called Rainbow. Very radio-friendly, too. Do you double-track your vocals? It’s a rich vocal blend!

The other voice is one of my labelmates. A wonderful young singer and songwriter and I chose her to do the harmonies with me because she has a really strong unique voice that works so well, I think. She’s going to go a long way, I reckon.

It jumped out at me, I thought someone’s put some thought into this!

And being on stage with her, it’s even better than the record! She did three or four songs with me on a tour, it’s very special.

There’s a song called Doing Fine Without You which I think involved Graham Nash and Russ..a fine defiant lyric. Rocking in an Andrew Gold kind of way if you remember Andrew…

(Sighs) Andrew produced one of my albums

The bridge on this one is just fantastic

Well I love the song and it was the first one we chose for this album release, Graham sent it to me some years ago and at that time I wasn’t sure when I would be recording again. I asked if he could put the song on hold for me and he just agreed.

There’s a moment on this record that I love to bits, where you dedicate a song to the painter Van Gogh – as did Don Maclean – it’s a beautiful pastoral moment. Do you paint?

I majored in art at Florida State University. My father was visually-oriented. I absolutely love art galleries and paintings. When I am travelling, say in Italy I make sure I indulge. My painting equipment will be following me up from California to here in New York. And if I ever get a minute to myself again..(Laughs)

I listened to the guitar work and for the slide I thought this guy is a fan of David Lindley, Ry Cooder and Waddy Wachtel!

Aha! It’s Joey Landreth on most of the slide…thirty year old guitarist from a group called Brothers Landreth. So many people don’t know that group yet and I just adore them! He sings with me on some songs. On Satisfied for instance

Ah you got me here! Satisfied is terrific..reminded me of The Band

He came in and worked so hard for three days and came up with wonderful contributions, as you can hear. His voice is angelic

Well I like that band as they have SONGS! they’re not just good singers and players. My favourite track is Over You. Slow, spooky…did you ask the band to play like Crazy Horse??

Pete, I just wanted something on this that had space in it, to get that mood. I walked in to the studio one day and Joey had got there early and had done guitar overdubs then the vocal layering and I just burst into tears….

Yeah I’m thinking of Cortez The Killer and Down By The River..the Neil Young songs that really ache..

Absolutely ! I totally understand that reference, it’s that territory

Naked All Night…autobiographical?

(Laughs) When we were writing that I told Kevin about my parents who were married for seventy five years! Even in later years they slept together without clothing. I reunited two years ago with the man I had been close to in early years and so every day it’s like being back in college…

Without knowing that I did sense that glad to be alive vibe that permeates the record

Well…it’s there…

Pete Sargeant

Rita Coolidge


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Rita Coolidge

(With thanks to Sacha and of course Ms Coolidge)

All Photos Credited to Matt Beard Photography

Rita Coolidge’s new studio album ‘Safe In The Arms Of Time’ is out now on Blue Élan Records.

Our full review of her new album can be located here: http://bit.ly/2Hi539j

You can watch the official music video for ‘Walking On Water’ featuring Keb’ Mo in this article. 

In addition, Rita Coolidge will perform a four-night residency from 14th May 2018 – 17th May 2018 at The Boisdale Club, London, United Kingdom. Tickets can be purchased here: http://bit.ly/2HiJaLr

For more information visit her official website here: http://bit.ly/2HhrX4N

Rita Coolidge