So, I’ve been trying to make a list of the best country duets. I realized this is a near-impossible task: is there any genre that has more duets than country? Maybe hip hop, but that’s a different kind of duet.
For the moment, my criteria are only the quality of the voices and the appeal of the harmonies. The harmony is a tough one, because sometimes the easiest ones to sing can be beautiful, so I’m not trying to judge on harmonic complexity only.
This is in no way an exhaustive list, but perhaps the beginning of an ongoing conversation. I’d like to hear others’ lists.
Here’s my top five:
5. NQ Arbuckle and Carolyn Mark, “When I Come Back.”
This one was tough, a toss-up between it and “Officer Down.” Their voices work really well together through their whole duet album. But I like the angst of the lyrics behind NQ’s growls in this one and the kind of urgent feel of the arrangement.
4. George Jones and Melba Montgomery, “We Must Have Been Out of Our Minds.”
I love the throaty twang of her voice.
3. Steve Earle and Siobhan Kennedy, “Poison Lovers.”
I don’t know why I love this one so much, but I play it all the time. I like the way Earle sings in the last chorus, changing the harmony, and letting these little grunts and sighs into his voice.
2. Lucinda Williams and Emmylou Harris, “Greenville.”
Well. These two voices. Amazing harmonies. Nothing else to say.
1. Louvin Brothers, “I Don’t Believe You’ve Met My Baby.”
Anyone care to dispute this one?
Filmmaker John Waters would heartily approve of everyone's mention IN SPITE OF OURSELVES by John and Iris, but let's not forget the zenith of double entendre duets: LET'S DUET by John C Reilly and Jenna Fischer from WALK HARD: THE DEWEY COX STORY.