Friday Five: Dwight Duets

Juli Thanki | October 22nd, 2010

Dwight Yoakam will celebrate his 54th birthday on Saturday. You could celebrate by squeezing into the tightest jeans in your closet, watching some of the movies in which he’s appeared, or chowing down on some frozen foods from Bakersfield Biscuits (not advised if you actually want to fit into those jeans). Me, I’m going to listen to a few of my favorite Dwight duets.

  • Population Me5. “If Teardrops Were Diamonds” – Dwight Yoakam & Willie Nelson

    Dwight’s so wonderful on upbeat songs that sometimes it’s easy to forget that he kills on ballads, too. He wrote this song and then sang it with Willie Nelson on 2003’s Population Me. It’s a good tune, but I think he’s being a little greedy. Whatever happened to teardrops costing pennies?

  • Just Lookin' For A Hit4. “Sin City” – Dwight Yoakam & k.d. lang

    A great Gram Parsons/Chris Hillman song, sung by two country singers with great voices. Yoakam and k.d. lang recorded this one for Dwight’s compilation Just Lookin’ for a Hit.

  • Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc., Etc. [Expanded]3. “Bury Me” – Dwight Yoakam & Maria McKee

    Yoakam was born in Pikeville, Kentucky, and on this Bakersfield-flavored duet with Maria McKee he pays tribute to the region, singing “Don’t you mourn for me when my soul is free/Woman, don’t you cry/Just bury me along the Big Sandy/Under a blue Kentucky Sky.”

  • If There Was A Way2. “Send a Message to My Heart” – Dwight Yoakam & Patty Loveless

    This 1992 duet with Patty Loveless didn’t crack the Top 40, but, man, it is damn good traditional country music. These two need to get back together and cut a duets album, stat.

  • Buenas Noches From A Lonely Room1. “Streets of Bakerfield” – Dwight Yoakam & Buck Owens

    Of course “Streets” takes the top spot: not only is it a superb version of the song, when you listen it becomes clear how much Dwight respects and admires his friend/mentor. Yoakam also recorded some other wonderful collaborations with Owens, including “I Was There,” “The Sad Side of Town,” and “Alright, I’m Wrong” from Tomorrow’s Sounds Today.–sOA9Q

  1. Thomas
    October 22, 2010 at 8:08 am


  2. Razor X
    October 22, 2010 at 8:25 am

    Can’t argue with any of these choices.

  3. Lewis
    October 22, 2010 at 8:27 am

    Very much agree with the Top 2 on the list. Streets Of Bakersfield is a classic and deserves to be at the top. Buck and Dwight definitely own this. Shame that Dwight’s duet with Patty Loveless didn’t do well on the charts as I thought it was a classic song too as it sounds like something that Porter and Dolly would have recorded but I don’t why that it didn’t do well.

  4. Dave D.
    October 22, 2010 at 8:43 am

    Thanks for the Dwight/Patty duet. Very nice.

  5. Juli
    October 22, 2010 at 8:47 am

    Can’t believe I forgot “Little Chapel,” a fab duet he did with Heather Myles on Sweet Talk & Good Lies. Definitely worth checking out if you haven’t heard it already.

  6. Ollie
    October 22, 2010 at 9:49 am

    I also like the duet he did with Kelly Willis on Golden Ring, a song he performed with Emmylou Harris on American Music Shop:

  7. luckyoldsun
    October 22, 2010 at 10:46 am

    Why the hell did Kelly Willis never go anywhere?
    I got her first CD “Bang Bang” around 1991. She seemed to have a modern, radio-friendly sound. Oh, and she was good-looking. And the disc was on MCA, which seemed to make a lot of stars at the time.

  8. Matt Bjorke
    October 22, 2010 at 10:52 am


    You can say the same thing about many, many artists. It’s just not possible for every great singer to get that big break. Still, I’d say Kelly Willis has had a fantastic career, she recorded 3 albums for MCA, an EP for A&M and 3 more albums for Rykodisc – along with a Holiday album – and married songwriter Bruce Robison (and frequently duets and sings on his recordings).

  9. Ollie
    October 22, 2010 at 11:06 am

    Kelly Willis has stopped touring regularly because she (and Bruce Robison) have four young children but she still records and performs live from time to time– I saw her do a terrific set earlier this month at the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival in San Francisco.

  10. Rick
    October 22, 2010 at 11:35 am

    Maybe Kelly Willis never did well outside of Texas because of her annoying warbling voice that’s only rarely on pitch. Well that and narcolepsy inducing albums like “What I Deserve”.

    Other Dwight duet honorable mentions: Dwight with Deana Carter on Deana’s song “Waiting”, Dwight with Gail Davies on the Webb Pierce Song “If You Were Me (And I Were You)” from “Caught In The Webb”, another Dwight & Buck duet in “Alright, I’m Wrong” off the Flaco Jimenez album “Sleepytown”, and Dwight’s duets with Ralph Stanley on the songs “Down Where The River Bends” and “Miner’s Prayer” from the “Saturday Night And Sunday Morning” album. Dwight always seemed to go above and beyond the call of duty when recording these types of songs and they represent some of his best work.

    [Edited for unnecessary political commentary]

  11. Sam G.
    October 22, 2010 at 11:37 am

    “Bang Bang” was Kelly Willis’ second record. The first on MCA was “Well Traveled Love,” and I like it even more than the second one. MCA released a compilation of her albums that might still be found in some places, but every one is worth tracking down.

    Dwight’s pretty lucky to be 54 and still be able to fit into the same size pants he wore in grade school.

  12. Jon
    October 22, 2010 at 11:46 am

    So, who’s the Kelly Willis who got a road (the Highland Rim Speedway is on it) named after him or her up in Robertson County, TN?

  13. Barry Mazor
    October 22, 2010 at 11:56 am

    Kelly Willis has had a lasting career within the Americana realm, rock end; her most recent CD was pretty far removed from mainstream country, ion the Rykodisc label. It’s indy rock oriented, and involved co-writes with and production by Chuck Prophet. Not such a stretch, or a surprise–from someone who started out basically as a rockabilly in the first place.

    Rick’s musical calls are very often very smart, for a troublemaker, but I’d just have to say he’s off the mark in this case of Ms. Willis’s voice.. I’ve known plenty of solid working artists she’s inspired.

    We sometimes get to see her and Bruce R doing a Christmas show in Nashville; it’s true that she’s more the stay-at-home mother these days.

  14. WAYNOE
    October 22, 2010 at 12:44 pm

    Although a bit too up-tempo for my taste, his duet with Michelle Branch “Long Goodbye” is also worthy of mentioning if not for any other reason than it’s interesting.

  15. WAYNOE
    October 22, 2010 at 12:52 pm

    Somehow Dwight was (is) able to make traditional country a cool thing. This is due partly to his persona. His ability to bring a rock-star status to a crowd by singing through his nose is a pretty neat accomplishment.

  16. luckyoldsun
    October 22, 2010 at 5:48 pm

    One thing you can say for Dwight is he had a totally unique sound.
    I did get to meet him and speak to him (for about 10 seconds, but hey?) when he did an in-store free performance and CD-signing at Tower Records in NYC.
    I always thought it was pretty cool how he personally revived Buck Owens’ career. I believe Dwight got his only #1 hit out of the deal!

  17. WAYNOE
    October 22, 2010 at 6:14 pm


    I beleive you are corect; however he has sold in excess of 20 million albums which is pretty incredible for being denied the chart success he deserved. And he did it much without the help of Nashville which I love.

  18. Leeann Ward
    October 22, 2010 at 8:38 pm

    Great theme and, of course, great picks. Dwight is certainly one of my very favorites.

    I mostly disagree with Rick’s music tastes, so it’s no surprise that I disagree with him regarding Kelly Willis as well. I have no idea where he’s getting pitch problems from her.

  19. luckyoldsun
    October 22, 2010 at 9:37 pm

    I’d forgotten that Kelly Willis is married to Bruce Robison, but I don’t know who listens to him. I bought one of his CDs years ago after it got a good write-up somewhere and I threw it out after one listen.
    Then, after I heard Gary Allen’s “What Would Willie Do?” I wanted to hear what the writer’s version sounded like, so I bought Bruce’s “Country Sunshine” CD, where it first appeared. Sounded to me like they just grabbed someone off the street and asked him to sing.

  20. Stormy
    October 22, 2010 at 9:47 pm

    I’d forgotten that Kelly Willis is married to Bruce Robison, but I don’t know who listens to him.

    Everybody in Texas.

  21. luckyoldsun
    October 23, 2010 at 12:06 am

    “Everybody in Texas.”

    There are a lot of Texas-associated singers I listen to and enjoy: Off the top of my head, and restricting it to those still active, I’ll name Dale Watson, Billy Joe Shaver, Guy Clark, Robert Earl Keen, Jimmy Dale Gilmore, Mark Chesnutt, Rodney Crowell, Cory Morrow, Rosie Flores and of course Jones, Willie and Kris. (And I wish Doug Supernaw was still recording.) In fact, over the years I’ve gone to see all but three of those in concert and I easily have over 200 CD’s from that group of artists.
    But sorry, I have no idea why anyone would record Bruce Robison. That “Country Sunshine” CD was one of the blandest pieces of dreck I’ve ever heard.

  22. Kyle
    October 23, 2010 at 2:45 am

    Robison is certainly a little pitchy at times. That said, I like his version of Wrapped better than Strait’s in a lot of ways, it’s a little more subdued and soulful. Plus, he has a lifetime pass from me for writing Angry All The Time. (Although, McGraw’s version is admittedly much better. IMO, it’s his best vocal performance.)

  23. Barry Mazor
    October 23, 2010 at 5:21 am

    Personally, I prefer Willis’s version of “Wrapped” (the first recorded) to either Robison’s or Strait’s. She does more with the rhythm, and with modulations in the arrangement that crank the idea and energy up a notch along the way. I’ve always felt that if Strait had heard her version he would have seen the swing possibilities in the song–which are not there in his, uh, straightahead version.

    I agree that Bruce Robison was a guy who’s performances once sounded like bland demos, but, I have to say, if you see him live these days, he’s improved tremendously, and can hold audiences in his palm. And he does have audiences–just not in pop country. And in club rooms–not arenas.

  24. badrockandroll
    October 23, 2010 at 6:23 am

    Patty returned the favour, and had Dwight sing a duet with her on a cover of Delaney and Bonnie’s “Never Ending Love for You” on one of her albums. They also did “Send me the Pillow that you Dream on”. They sound really good together. She’s probably my favourite of his duet partners, but it’s a hard pick because he sounds good with pretty much everyone, including Elizabeth Cook on her latest. Since Dwight’s done so many theme albums (acoustic, Buck, covers), it’s high time he did a duets album!

  25. Leeann Ward
    October 23, 2010 at 7:15 am

    I really like Dwight’s duet with Ashley Monroe from her Satisfied album. It’s silly, but fun, not to mention that their voices are pretty perfect together.

    I’m a pretty big fan of Bruce Robbison, but I agree that his voice isn’t technically perfect. I like Kelly Willis’ version of “wrapped” the best too, though I like both Straight’s and Robbison’s as well.

  26. Leeann Ward
    October 23, 2010 at 7:27 am

    * Robison

  27. Lewis
    October 23, 2010 at 8:19 am


    Dwight had one other #1 hit on Billboard: “I Sang Dixie” in 1989 which also is his only solo #1. Probably “Ain’t That Lonely Yet” and “Fast As You” went to #1 on Radio & Records’ old chart but not on Billboard’s country chart.

  28. luckyoldsun
    October 23, 2010 at 2:16 pm

    Those should have been No. 1. Dwight also had a few No. 1 albums that went multi-platinum.

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