Together Always: Country Duets for Valentine's Day
Maybe it's because I'm a Libra, but I believe that everything in life should be as harmonious as possible-love, especially. Duets might be the ultimate musical testament to such a theory. I'm not talking about the resonance that's created when a woman is vacuuming while her man watches television. I'm referring to the beauty and simple texture of two voices blending together in a shared space.
During the late '60s and early to mid '70s, shows like The Porter Wagoner Show, The Grand Ole Opry, and Hee Haw showcased various country artists and often featured duets from well-known musicians. This became a trend in country music as established musicians teamed up together to release duet albums.
Before male and female duets, harmonic country groups were usually family member, like The Carter Family and The Louvin Brothers. Genetics seems a fail proof way of reaching the most natural vocal blend, perfected over years of practice and training. Perhaps that's why many of the country duets from the 70's were seen as "gimmicky."
And that's okay with me, because most things in life will eventually be classified as a gimmick. Since Valentine's Day is one of those things, what cornier way to celebrate the occasion than with some memorable country duet performances? Break out the candles, red roses, and wine while you're at it.
"Darling Companion/If I Were A Carpenter/Jackson" Johnny Cash & June Carter Cash
This one is pretty obvious, right? They had one of the greatest loves in the entertainment industry. June Carter was part of The Carter Family and married Johnny in 1968. At her funeral in 2003, her stepdaughter said that if being a wife was a corporation, June would have been a CEO because it was her most treasured role.
"You're The Reason Our Kids Are Ugly" Conway Twitty & Loretta Lynn
Maybe this isn't the most romantic country song, but the gentle teasing lyrics make the song infectious. Lynn was known for being a sassy country mama; she had more banned songs than any other country artist during that time and was still incredibly successful. Between 1971 and 1975, Conway and Loretta had five consecutive number one hits. They also won a Grammy for "When The Fire Is Gone."
"Slowly But Surely" Merle Haggard and Bonnie Owens
Country love is complicated. Take it from Merle, he's been married five times -- once to his buddy's ex-wife, Bonnie Owens. She was first married to country artist Buck Owens, who she met when she was only 15 years old. The Hag, who helped Owens create a distinctive "Bakersfield" sound in country music, married her in 1965. The two made music together and even toured after their divorce in 1978.
"Big Mouth Blues" Gram Parsons & Emmylou Harris
This clip was a rare find. It was recorded at Liberty Hall in Houston when Parsons and Harris toured for a year in 1973. Neil Young and Linda Ronstadt sat in on this performance. It's been speculated that the two had an affair, but neither ever confirmed it. Parsons' unique style founded what he called "Cosmic American Music." He mixed blues, folk, and rock. Most people just called it "country rock," to Parson's disdain.
"Together Always" Porter Wagoner & Dolly Parton
Parton was a regular on Wagoner's television show, The Porter Wagoner Show. Even though it helped her career grow, Parton doesn't have many decent things to say about Wagoner. She says that he was controlling and a "chauvinist pig." But they always seemed so happy when they were joking around on camera.
"We Must Have Been Out Of Our Minds" Melba Montgomery & George Jones
Throughout his career, George Jones has released a number of duet albums. Although he has so much material, he earned himself the nickname "No Show Jones" because he's missed over fifty concerts. I'm a big fan of Jones, even though he was notorious for being a raging alcoholic. The dude drove his lawnmover eight miles to the liquor store after his wife hid his keys from him.
"We're Not The Jet Set" Tammy Wynette & George Jones
Their steak and martinis were draft beer and weenies. When you lookup the term "jet set", the words make more sense. Tammy and George became another "real" country couple for country lovers to look up to in 1969, soon after Johnny Cash proposed to June Carter. Although the two had a D-I-V-O-R-C-E, they continued to work together. They released a reunion album in 1995 called One.
"We Were Made For Eachother" Buck Owens & Susan Raye
Susan Raye was Buck Owens' protegee and a featured performer on Hee Haw, where Owens was a co-host. With Owen's help, Raye perfected her Bakersfield style of music, particularly with her crossover hit "L.A. International Airport."
"Rain" Kris Kristofferson & Rita Coolidge
Before Coolidge married Kristofferson and released a few acclaimed duet albums, she was thought to be one of the contributing reasons for the 1970 breakup of Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young. Coolidge left Stephen Stills for Graham Nash. Pretty cool Snapple Fact.
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