By Annie Reuter and Kurt Wolff
Country music has a long list of revered duets. From Tim McGraw and Faith Hill to Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood—and on back to pairs such as Conway Twitty and Loretta Lynn and, of course, Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash—many of country’s biggest artists (some of whom were and are actually married) have sung the most romantic songs in the genre.
As Valentine’s Day approaches, we take a look at some of country’s most romantic duets. Some are from names you recognize; a few are from newcomers, but we believe the songs stand up alongside the classics.
Add them to your playlist for a perfect Valentine’s Day evening…or a date night anytime.
10. “From This Moment On” – Shania Twain and Bryan White
Shania Twain began writing “From This Moment On” while at a soccer game with her then-husband and producer Mutt Lange, who loves sports. As the story goes, Twain’s mind drifted and she began writing the song. When she sat down with Lange to finish the song they decided it would be perfect for a duet and Bryan White was eventually added to the track that was released in 1998. No doubt a popular wedding song in the late ’90s, “From This Moment On” continues to survive the test of time.
9. “If I Could Bottle This Up” – George Jones/Shelby Lynne
Written by Paul Overstreet and Dean Dillon, “If I Could Bottle You Up” is a fun, playful song paying tribute to what’s lovely about your significant other—and wondering if there’s a way to take all that goodness and package it somehow (“I could sell everybody in town what I been feeling”). George Jones cut the song in 1988 with then-newcomer Shelby Lynne, who was only 19 and still more than a decade away from her breakthrough album, the awesome country-soul collection I Am Shelby Lynne. It was Lynne’s first commercial recording, but she holds her own very well next to a guy who, then as now, is considered one of popular music’s finest vocalists.
Reba originally intended to record this song with Kenny Rogers but their voices just never fit the song. She eventually asked Vince Gill to assist on harmonies until her producer suggested they make it a duet. The song made it all the way to No. 1 on Billboard‘s Hot Country Songs chart for two weeks. A song that celebrates long lost love, Reba and Gill sing of seeing each other across the room and realizing that while they’ve been trying to live their lives without each other, the heart won’t lie.
7. “Mutineer” – Jason Isbell and Amanda Shires
Unless you’re a die-hard Warren Zevon fan, you probably haven’t heard this song. But…wow. The late Zevon (the guy behind quirky hits like “Werewolves of London”) wrote it, making it the title track of his final album, released in 1995. Zevon’s own version was certainly moving, but put this song in the hands of Americana stalwarts Amanda Shires and her husband Jason Isbell, and it becomes transcendent. It’s a song of a deep, deep kind of love, a connection between souls that (sorry, Valentine’s Day) has nothing to do with flowers and candy. Isbell and Shires just released a new commercial recording of the song, by the way, as part of a two-track Sea Songs EP that includes another interesting cover, Lykke Li’s “I Follow Rivers.”