Sunday, November 1, 2009

the real duets

What ever happened to the 'real' duets in country music?

I don't mean those 'groups' that always get the awards for 'duet of the year', like Brooks & Dunn, Montgomery Gentry, The Judds, Sugarland, etc. I'm talking about 'real" duets where there are two separate artists who aren't part of the same group that get together to sing a song. I guess these days they officially call it "collaborations", but whatever label you put on it, it still seems to be a dying entity.

Remember the good old days of country music? George & Tammy, Conway & Loretta, George Jones & Melba Montgomery, David Frizzell & Shelly West, Jim Ed Brown & Helen Cornelius, Johnny & June, or how about Barbara Mandrell & Lee Greenwood or Kenny Rogers & Dolly Parton.

There have been very few real duets to emerge in the past decade, but when they do, they seem to be big hits - remember Brad Paisley & Alison Krauss with "whiskey lullaby"? Kid Rock & Sheryl Crow with "picture", or how about Reba McEntire & Linda Davis with "does he love you"?

Duets featuring two or more female artists is even more rare. Remember Lorrie Morgan & Dolly Parton (best woman wins), or Faith Hill & Shelby Lynne (keep walkin on), or how about Dolly Parton's "Romeo" which featured Kathy Mattea, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Tanya Tucker & Pam Tillis. Mary Chapin Carpenter sang "he thinks he'll keep her" on a tv show and featured Trisha Yearwood, Emmylou Harris, Kathy Mattea, Patty Loveless, Pam Tillis, and Suzy Bogguss as her backup singers (that was a great show!) Then there's Reba's "on my own" with Martina, Trisha & Linda.

CMT tried to bring the duets back a bit with their "Crossroads" series, and it was great for the first handful of collaborations they had - Willie Nelson/Sheryl Crow, Dolly Parton/Melissa Etheridge, Martina McBride/Pat Benatar, Dixie Chicks/James Taylor, Lucina Williams/Elvis Costello, Emmylou Harris/Dave Matthews, Lyle Lovett & Bonnie Raitt, Rosanne Cash/Steve Earle. Then the pairings became very weird and not really musically appealing (Taylor Swift/Def Leppard?).

I know a lot of artists collaborate on stage with other acts they're touring with at the time, but why don't they make an effort to go into the studio and record an actual duet that doesn't include screaming fans in the background to take away from the song itself.

They say that all things old will be new again, hopefully that includes the 'real' duets in the foreseeable future.

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