Five Songs That Changed My Life… 3. Guilty by Bonnie Raitt

Five Songs That Changed My Life… 3. Guilty by Bonnie Raitt


In the context of time I cannot honestly remember when I first heard the song “Guilty” by Bonnie Raitt. But like so many things in our lives that develop meaning over time, we do not always have a clear memory of how they even came to be; it’s almost mystical. For those of us who have at one time or another struggled with substance or personal addiction of any kind, the song is in my mind the perfect encapsulation of emotion brought on by those experiences. This song has made me cry, it has made me give up, but it also made me find comfort in knowing that these feelings pass.

I found myself so many times at a party, in the center of an organism of ideas and wine, clouded in smoke and pressure. I would often deliberately walk outside into the wind and silently wonder why I enjoy spending my time wasting it, even when I’m not really having any fun. I would sometimes just give up for the night of moving past this dilemma and return home to my records. This song became the anthem of that moment, the anthem of ‘why can’t I feel the way everyone else seems to feel,’ ‘why can’t I just smile and mean it.’ At 3am, in the dark, I would find the comfort in the indescribable voice of Bonnie as she sang these words:


“Yes baby, I’ve been drinking

I shouldn’t come by I know.

But I found myself in trouble darling

And I had no place else to go.

I got some whiskey, yeah from a bar man

Got some cocaine from a friend.

And I had to keep on moving

Till I was back in your arms again.

Well I’m guilty, yeah I’m guilty

And I’ll be guilty for the rest of my life.

How come I never do what I’m supposed to do?

Nothing that I try to do ever turns out right.

You know how it is with me baby

You know I just can’t stand myself.

It takes a whole lot of medicine, darling

For me to pretend that I’m somebody else.”


Though the song is the somber tale of someone lost and in misery, I found peace in knowing that that feeling is something felt by many more than just myself. Life is in valleys, and this song perfectly depicted my low, and allowed me to always find the way back up the mountain top.

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Similar Artists: Jackson Browne, Janis Joplin, Daughter