Elvis Costello, Lucinda Williams & The Best Country/Rock Duets

Music Features Elvis Costello

Listening to the album by Lucinda Williams, Little Honey, I was thrilled to come across the voice of Elvis Costello on a song called “Jailhouse Tears.” Country/rock duets have a pretty long history and even some commercial success (see Jon Bon Jovi with Sugarland’s Jennifer Nettles). But recently, they’ve also gotten pretty damn cool. Here are the best country/rock duets of recent years (and a few don’t even involve Emmylou Harris):

10. Johnny Cash + Bob Dylan – “Girl From the North Country”
Dylan stayed at Johnny Cash’s house to record Nashville Skyline and the pair re-recorded “Girl From the North Country” as the lead track.

8. k.d. lang + Roy Orbison – “Crying”
Orbison re-recorded his 1961 hit with vocals from Canadian k.d. lang.

7. Emmylou Harris + Conor Oberst – “Landlocked Blues”
Oberst’s first dip of a toe into a country pool he’s been swimming in comfortably for three albums now, I’m Wide Awake It’s Morning had three songs with Emmylou Harris. Even if he’s not the easiest guy to harmonize with, the combination somehow works.

6. Emmylou Harris + Mark Knopfler – “This Is Us”
“This Is Us” is the standout track, but there are several gems on All the Road Running, an album about love all grown up.

5. Lucinda Williams + Elvis Costello – “Jailhouse Tears”
This is one of those classic Lucinda Williams swampy country songs about missing a lover as he’s gone off to jail that you don’t think could get any better—then Elvis’ voice pops up unmistakably. Too cool. Here they are doing “I Changed the Locks” for CMT’s Crossroads (pictured above)

4. Alison Krauss + Robert Plant – “Gone Gone Gone (Done Moved On)”
Who knew that Krauss + Plant = The Beatles? This Everly Brothers song is swampy. It’s country. It rocks.

>3. Loretta Lynn + Jack White – “Portland Oregon”
This is one of those examples where country and rock combine to create something greater than the two. The whole album is great, but “Portland” stands out.

2. Emmylou Harris + Gram Parsons – “Return of the Grievous Angel”
This is probably a stretch to call it a country & rock duet, as Gram fused both and Emmy wasn’t yet what you’d call a country artist, but it set the stage for most everything else on this list.

1. Johnny Cash + Joe Strummer – “Redemption Song”
Released just after both icons died, this is a chillingly beautiful piece of music that raises the hair on my arms every time I listen.

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