10. Tim McGraw and Faith Hill
The first couple of country music are an anomaly in Nashville these days—successful solo stars who work equally well in tandem. Now in the midst of the latest incarnation of their Soul2Soul tour (an outing that’s been a box office boom for the past 15 years), they’re also touting a new single, “Speak to a Girl,” which doubles as the first entry from an upcoming album of duets. The two have performed together in the past, but the new effort, due for release later this year, marks the first time they’ve recorded an entire album together. The late Rayna James and her bereaved beau Deacon Claybourne would likely nod with approval.
9. Exene Cervenka and John Doe
The first couple of punk helmed the band X in both its early and later incarnations, while also going on to pursue solo careers and an occasional odd pairing via the old timey trappings of the Knitters. Judging by most of the music they made, they were a tumultuous pair, one reason perhaps that their personal union lasted only five years. Nevertheless, the music they made set a fiery and frantic standard, and indeed, when it came to the rebirth of the San Francisco scene in the early ‘80s, X did indeed mark the spot.
8. Win Butler and Regine Chassagne (Arcade Fire)
A boy from Texas married a girl from Quebec and had a little band called Arcade Fire. Only four albums in, and they’re already one of the most remarkable husband and wife duos of all time. —Josh Jackson
7. Karin Bergquist and Linford Detweiller (Over the Rhine)
Quietly crafting one of the best oeuvres in all of American music, the Ohioans at the heart of Over the Rhine have been together as a band since 1989 and as husband and wife since 1996. If you’ve never heard OtR, stop what you’re doing and listen to these two songs, the first because it’s timely, the second because it’s amazing. —Josh Jackson
6. Tom Waits and Kathleen Brennan
Okay, so she doesn’t take the stage with Waits’s band, but their 1980 marriage and subsequent songwriting collaboration helped sew a patchwork of musical flotsam and jetsam onto the lounge crooner, transforming him into the carnival ringleader of Swordfishtrombone in 1983. If the piano had been drinking before, it’s been downright delirious ever since. —Josh Jackson
5. Tina and Ike Turner
The music was phenomenal. The marriage—not so much. Their turbulent domestic life (Tina accused Ike of being an abusive husband) has overshadowed their legacy, but there’s no denying the electricity the two had on stage. —Josh Jackson
4. Beyoncé and Jay-Z
It’s rare to find two musicians equally talented and happily married, each content in their solo careers while seemingly free of the pressure and animosity that often tears show biz couples apart. Still, naysayers apparently refuse to believe that success and matrimony can coexist, and there are those who insist on perusing Beyoncé’s latest album, Lemonade, for hints about an impending break-up. While the couple have yet to opt for co-billing on a single album, they have collaborated on occasion, most notably on the songs ”’03 Bonnie & Clyde,” Beyoncé’s hit “Crazy in Love,” “That’s How You Like It” from her album Dangerously in Love, and the songs “Déjà Vu” and “Upgrade U,” both taken from B’Day, her equally successful sophomore set. More telling was the evolution from their 2004 hit “Crazy in Love” to its belated follow-up “Drunk In Love” nine years later.
3. Sonny and Cher
The personification of hip hippiedom, the duo’s early efforts yielded a steady stream of mid-‘60s hits, none better than “I’ve Got You Babe,” an amorous anthem that summed up the sentiments of two carefree lovers short on wealth but forever entwined. From then until the early-‘70s. the chart-toppers kept coming, eventually morphing into an hour variety show that made them the rock ‘n’ roll equivalent of America’s sweethearts. Cher eventually became a solo star, but their onscreen rapport, fuelled by her constant putdowns of her diminutive partner, concealed the fact that the relationship was headed for divorce. It took a long time for the pair to reconcile, and indeed, when both guested on Late Night With David Letterman their impromptu and emotional performance of “I Got You Babe” was so warm and sweet the years seemed to dissolve behind them. Sonny eventually turned to politics and was elected to the House of Representatives on the Republican side, an odd turn considering his early anti-establishment stance. He died in a skiing accident in 1998, and Cher’s tearful eulogy made it clear that she would always be in his debt.
2. Johnny and June Carter Cash
A match so musically and romantically glorious they made it into a movie. Johnny toured with The Carter Family in the early ‘60s, right around the time he became addicted to barbiturates and amphetamines. But it was June who helped overcome that addiction, and he proposed in
February of 1968 and married a week later. Though their biggest musical triumphs were solo, their collaborations were legend. June wrote “Ring of Fire” for Johnny and there is no better husband/wife musical moment than “Jackson.”—Josh Jackson
1. John Lennon and Yoko Ono
John and Yoko’s initial effort, Two Virgins, made little sense to anyone at the time, and the cover picturing the couple naked hardly helped. Subsequent efforts following The Beatles’ breakup did little to alter any negative opinion the Fab’s fans had for Yoko, and indeed, Lennon’s worst record of his immediate post Fabs period, Life in New York City, was made even more so by a second disc recorded in concert at the Lyceum Ballroom in London, spotlighting Yoko wailing in the company of an all-star backing band (George Harrison, Keith Moon, Billy Preston et al.). Double Fantasy, the duo’s final collaborative effort, showcased what the two could truly accomplish together, thanks to Lennon’s own songwriting contributions and Yoko’s growing recognition as an avant garde auteur. Their joint output may have garnered mixed reviews over time, but there would be no post-Beatles John without Yoko, and no internationally-acclaimed Yoko without John.