Perfect harmony

What makes a great duet?

On the one hand, the question is easy to answer.

“It takes two,” Marvin Gaye and Kim Weston harmonize on the opening track of the new edition of The Big Fat Wide Americana Hour, to be posted Saturday. And that’s certainly true.

But on a deeper level, there's a magic that cannot be easily defined. Is it that, in music as in marriage, opposites attract – as when the sweet-voiced Jennifer Warnes teams up with the gravelly growl of Joe Cocker on “Up Where We Belong?”

Or is it when two smoothed-voiced singers, like Linda Rondstadt and James Taylor, complement each other on “I Think It’s Going To Work Out Fine?”

Or is it perhaps a shared vision, as when the blues singers Bonnie Raitt and Delbert McClinton create a mood on “Good Man, Good Woman?”

It may be indefinable. But when it works, it’s magic – and more fun to listen to than to analyze.

Join me this week for an hour of the best of American duets.

And don’t forget – turn it up. I mean, crank it!

Your friend,

M.D. Spenser

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© 2013 by M.D. Spenser.