I have to admit, this gave me a little trouble, and I was sorely tempted to just put up the playlist of the 1994 album Rhythm, Country, and Blues, in which country and R&B artists team up to prove that the two genres are actually compatible, and be done with it. Then I thought, nah, this has to be easier than I’m making it, and came up with ten songs (three from the aforementioned album) that feature cross-genre duets.
- Julio Iglesias and Willie Nelson, “To All The Girls I’ve Loved Before” This is a classic duet between the country Willie and the Latin-pop Julio. You’d think it’d be a disaster, and you’d be wrong: they sound fantastic together. Willie, I’ve learned, is a lot more than a country singer, taking on standards and doing a more than respectable job.
- Natalie Cole and Nat King Cole, “Unforgettable” Natalie is singing with her late father. Not really cross-genre, but still an interesting concept.
- Philip Bailey and Phil Collins, “Easy Lover” R&B meets “lite rawk,” and the result is pretty amazing. Both, incidentally, are drummers.
- Joni Mitchell with Jaco Pastorius (bass), Pat Metheny (guitar), Michael Brecker (tenor sax), Lyle Mays (keyboards) & Don Alias (drums), “Free Man In Paris” Joni Mitchell, a legendary folk-rock performer, is joined by five of the best jazz musicians of our time. You have to admit they sound good together, although there’s a lot less jazz here than you’d expect.
- Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash, “Girl From The North Country” A legend of folk meets a legend of country in this duet from Johnny’s show in the ’60’s.
- Donovan with Bobbie Gentry, “There Is A Mountain” Evidently Ms. Gentry, a country/pop/soul singer who wrote and sang “Ode To Billy Joe” and “Fancy,” had a TV show in the UK during the ’60’s (I don’t remember it airing here), and one night Donovan, famous for his psychedelic folk music, appeared, and the two of them sang Donovan’s song. Not bad, but not really great.
- David Cassidy and Glen Campbell, a medley of Everly Brothers songs We generally think of Glen Campbell as a country artist, but he was once a member of The Wrecking Crew, a group of LA session musicians who appeared on thousands of records in the ’60’s and ’70’s, including, I would think, some of The Partridge Family’s, so it’s not as farfetched that he and David Cassidy, a/k/a Keith Partridge, would sound good together. In fact, they sound great together. One wonders if the two of them are in Heaven playing together.
- Sam Moore and Conway Twitty, “Rainy Night In Georgia” I’ve been pulling this song out a lot lately, most recently in my tribute to Tony Joe White last week. This and the next two songs are from Rhythm, Country, and Blues. Here, we have Sam Moore, half of the legendary R&B duo Sam & Dave, and Conway Twitty, a legendary country singer, singing a song that was made famous by Brook Benton in 1970. Conway died shortly after recording this.
- Patti LaBelle and Travis Tritt, “When Something Is Wrong With My Baby” Had to include one with Travis, whose family once owned a few square miles of land in this area, including the land my house sits on. Here he’s matched with the incredible Patti LaBelle on a classic song by Isaac Hayes and David Porter, and the two of them knock it out of the park.
- Chet Atkins and Allen Toussaint, “Southern Nights” You don’t get more country than Chet Atkins, who as the head of RCA Records’ Nashville studio was responsible for “the Nashville Sound,” which replaced fiddles and steel guitars with strings and choruses (and was indirectly responsible for the creation of “the Bakersfield Sound,” which put the fiddles and steel guitars back in). He might have been the greatest guitar player alive, who could cross over into jazz, folk, and rock. Here he’s paired with Allen Toussaint, who’s one of the legends of New Orleans R&B, on a song made famous by Glen Campbell.
- Donny Osmond and Glen Campbell, “By The Time I Get To Phoenix”/”Walk Right In” this is a roughly 12-minute interview with Donny and Glen on a British morning show, during which they do an impromptu version of “By The Time I Get To Phoenix.” At the end of the show, they sing “Walk Right In,” a song made popular by the Rooftop Singers in 1962, with members of the cast of the show.
As I said at the beginning, this was a lot harder to do than it appeared. Maybe it’s a testament to fact that these are professional musicians that don’t worry about what kind of music they’re making or who they’re making it with. That’s why none of these was a complete disaster. You look at some of the performances and you realize they love and respect one another, because they’re musicians, and that’s one hell of a bond.
Anyway, that’s Monday’s Music Moves Me for November5, 2018.