Top 10 Country Duets
Through the years, there have been numerous collaborations in country music. Sometimes an artist will make a quick appearance, like Jimmy Buffet's cameo at the end of Alan Jackson's 'It's Five O'Clock Somewhere.' On many occasions we’ve seen a major artist sing backing vocals, like Patty Loveless on Vince Gill’s ‘When I Call Your Name.' More recently, we’ve seen artists from other genres collide with country stars, as heard in Jason Aldean and Kelly Clarkson's hit duet ‘Don’t You Wanna Stay.' However, in this list of the Top 10 Country Duets, we honor country pairs that teamed up to equally share the vocals of a hit record.
‘Meet Me in Montana’
Donny and Marie turns into Danny and Marie! This 1985 tune was Osmond’s second No. 1 country hit since her debut with the Sonny James produced song 'Paper Roses' in 1973. Meanwhile, partner Dan Seals of the pop duo England Dan and John Ford Coley was enjoying his very first No. 1 country hit, after already placing four Top 10 records on the country charts. ‘Meet Me in Montana,' written by former pop star Paul Davis, came to life while he was on a tour bus in Montana looking at the natural beauty of the world.
‘Murder on Music Row’
Alan Jackson and George Strait were probably the only two artists who could have gotten away with such a strong message on country radio and not have it affect future airplay of their own songs. 2000's ‘Murder on Music Row’ points a finger at the suspects who may have played a role in killing the sound of traditional country music on country radio. Strait and Jackson were on a serious mission as they sang “the almighty dollar and the lust for worldwide fame slowly killed tradition, and for that someone should hang!” The song peaked low on the charts at No. 38, but in a strange twist, the song won the CMA Vocal Event of the Year award.
‘Let’s Make Love’
Since their marriage in 1996, Tim McGraw and Faith Hill have given us several offerings of songs that reflect their own relationship. In 1997, McGraw recorded ‘It’s Your Love’ with Hill backing him up on the chorus. In 1998, Hill recorded ‘Just to Hear You Say That You Love Me,’ with McGraw making a cameo on a brief part of the song. In 1999, ‘Let’s Make Love’ found the two collaborating a bit more equally for a full-fledged duet. The song also earned Grammy gold for Vocal Collaboration of the Year.
‘The Heart Won’t Lie’
At first, Reba McEntire considered recording 1993's 'The Heart Won't Lie' with someone else. As she says, “Originally Kenny Rogers and I were looking at doing this song as a duet, but we could never get it to sound just right because of the different ranges of our voices. Unfortunately, it just didn't work out. We asked Vince Gill to sing the background harmonies on the song. Tony Brown, who was co-producing the CD with me, suggested letting Vince do more than just sing harmony on the song, so he took a couple of verses, and we decided to turn it into a duet.”
‘Beer for My Horses’
Even without watching the music video, you get the picture of an old lawman and his sidekick strolling through a western town chasing the bad guy. Backed by the powerful voice of Toby Keith and the distinct voice of Willie Nelson, 2002's ‘Beer For My Horses’ galloped to No. 1 for six weeks. The song also broke a record when Nelson, at the age of 70, became the oldest artist in chart history to appear at No. 1 on the Billboard country charts. Similar to what Kenny Rogers was able to do with his ‘Gambler’ hit, Keith turned the story song into a movie featuring comedian Rodney Carrington.
‘Islands in the Stream’
Even if you didn’t count his solo hits, Kenny Rogers could have a ‘Greatest Hits’ album with his duets alone. In 1978, he started with a CMA-winning duet with Dottie West, then Kim Carnes, Sheena Easton, Ronnie Milsap, Anne Murray, Wynonna and others. However, there was one duet partner that stood out above the rest: Dolly Parton! Rogers and Parton just had the magical chemistry that made them the perfect pairing for numerous projects, including the best-selling holiday album ‘Once Upon a Christmas’ and the No. 1 hits ‘Real Love’ and 1983's ‘Islands in the Stream.’
This good-time classic was recorded before Johnny Cash and June Carter were married in March of 1968. The 1967 song, which won a Grammy for Vocal Duo of the Year, became a favorite at their live shows and is prominently featured in the movie ‘Walk the Line.’ The song is a funny look at a married couple threatening to leave each other and go to a city called Jackson. The track was originally cut by the Kingtson Trio and Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazlewood, before Johnny and June put their own spin on the song, which was destined to be a country music hit!
‘Louisiana Woman, Mississippi Man’
Loretta Lynn's first full-time duet partner was Ernest Tubb. Then in 1967, she met her next duet partner, thanks to producer Owen Bradley. Lynn had told Bradley that she would like to meet Conway Twitty, never dreaming it would lead to a friendship and several hit duets. Bradley introduced the two singers, and the rest is history. ‘After the Fire Is Gone’ became their first No. 1 hit together, but it was 1973's ‘Louisiana Woman, Mississippi Man’ that showcased their chemistry. The song hit No. 1, and they won their second CMA Award for Vocal Duo of the Year.
‘Does He Love You’
In 1993, there was no bigger female act in country music than Reba McEntire. However, no matter how big of a star she was, the powerful redhead still faced some resistance when she had the idea of recording a two-woman duet called ‘Does He Love You.’ There was some concern that radio wouldn’t embrace a double female recording, especially if one of them was an unknown backup artist. Although Linda Davis was signed to a record deal in 1988, she failed to produce any hits and went to work as a backing vocalist. Reba’s gamble paid off, as the cheatin' country cat-fight shot to No. 1 and picked up a Grammy for Vocal Collaboration.
Though they were married from 1969-1975, many people didn’t realize that one of George Jones and Tammy Wynette's biggest duets came one year after they got divorced. 'Golden Ring' is the story of a wedding ring that makes its way off of an ex-wife’s hand and into a pawn shop. Then, the “cold metallic thing” catches the eye of another young couple, and the ring starts another journey. Jones and Wynette shared their tumultuous marriage with the world, in the tabloids and in song, but there was something about a reunion record that everybody thought was powerful.