Then And Now : Bettye Lavette

Bettye LaVette has been sharing her soulful voice with the world since 1962, when she cut her first record at the age of 16. The Michigan-born singer never quite reached superstar levels of fame, but throughout her extraordinary career she has toured with legends like Otis Redding, James Brown and Cab Calloway. Her latest single is 'Talking Old Soldiers,' a heart wrenching piano ballad originally performed by Elton John. In the video, LaVette reminisces about friends who have passed away as cigarette smoke slowly plumes around her in an empty bar. 

Well hello he said
"Can I buy you another glass of wine, my dear?"
"Thank you son, that's kind of you
It's so nice to know somebody cares"

These days there's so much goin' on
I don't think nobody really wants to know
I may reach just an ol' has been a some
But I now how it feels to grow old

Yeah, I guess that's right
You can find me here most in a night
Just lookin' 'round the rooms
Starin' at the walls and the lights

It's funny I remember, oh, five or six years ago I'd say
I'd stand right here at this bar with my friends who passed away
And drink three times the wine I can drink today
Yup, I know how it feels to grow old

I know what they're sayin' son
There goes an old frenzy broad again
Well, I may be mad at that but I've seen enough
To make a young man go out his brains

How the hell do they know
What it's like to have a graveyard as a friend?
'Cause that's where they all are boy, all of them
It don't seem likely I'll have those kinds of friends again

I showed you hate, you have to go
But it's been great talkin' to you
And how about see you
The next time you're passin' through

You know it, it's like I sayin'
There's so much goin' on
I don't really think nobody wants to know
But you keep well my friend

And don't give another thought on me
'Cause I'm gonna ignore all the rest
I've got my memories

Well, hello he said
"Can I buy you another glass of wine, my dear?"
"Thank you son, that's kind of you

Lyrics Β© Universal Music Publishing Group

 A Tribute To "The Who"


Bettye LaVette's stunning take on The Who classic, "Love Reign O'er Me" at the
 2008 Kennedy Center Honors. Music and arrangement by Rob Mathes.

Jon Bon Jovi with Bettye LaVette on 1.18.09 at the Lincoln Memorial


Bettye's biggest ever hit was "Let Me Down Easy", a record on the Calla label that the late Dave Godin revered as if it were a religious experience. We were fortunate enough in Detroit in 1990 to not only re-record it, but to shoot some wonderful footage of the 
lady singing her heart and soul out .

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