Readers offer more examples of duets that officially aren’t. I.e., songs that sound like duets but, for various label/legal reasons, were credited only to one act.
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SOLO DUETS, READERS RESPOND
About the topic of songs that are essentially duets, even though only one act receives official billing, here are some more.
First, vocal collaborations:
"Whatever Gets You Through the Night," John Lennon, No. 1, 1974 (Elton John: vocals and piano)
"Sidewalk Talk," John "Jellybean" Benitez, No. 18, 1986 (Madonna: Co-writer and vocals)
"California Girls," David Lee Roth, No. 3, 1985 (the Beach Boys' Carl Wilson and Christopher Cross: background vocals)
"I'll Be Over You," Toto, No. 11, 1986 (Michael McDonald: background vocals)
"Electric Blue," Icehouse, No. 7, 1988 (Hall & Oates' John Oates: co-writer and background vocals)
"Heaven Help Me," Deon Estus, No. 5, 1989 (George Michael: co-writer and background vocals)
And, instrumental assistance:
"While My Guitar Gently Weeps," the Beatles, 1968 (Eric Clapton: guitar)
"I Wish It Would Rain Down," Phil Collins, No. 3, 1990 (Eric Clapton: guitar)
"No More Lonely Nights," Paul McCartney, No. 6, 1984 (Pink Floyd's David Gilmour: guitar)
"I Won't Back Down," Tom Petty, No. 12, 1989 (George Harrison: background vocals and guitar)
"Leave a Light On," Belinda Carlisle, No. 11, 1989 (George Harrison: slide guitar)
And the list goes on, on and on ...
Thanks and take care,
Mackenzie (Mac) Scott,
Fajardo, Puerto Rico
With your Beatles- and late '80s-centric list, I'll add Elvis Costello's "Veronica" (No. 18) and Paul McCartney's "My Brave Face" (No. 25), both from 1989, as the pair co-wrote a hit for each other that year.
Around the same time, Costello also collaborated with 'til Tuesday on "The Other End (Of the Telescope)," an album cut on the band's 1988 release (and my favorite album of all-time) "Everything's Different Now." Costello's prominent line in the song (which he co-wrote with the band's Aimee Mann – "I think you're shrinking" – is so a part of it that when Mann performed it at a show I saw in the early 2000s, she had her husband, Michael Penn, fill in on it. He did his best (good-natured) Costello impression, to the appreciation and laughter of the crowd.
(To bring the round-about reference into 2013, Penn's name shows clearly each week at the end of each episode of HBO's "Girls." He's scores the show and contributed a song to its new soundtrack, "On Your Way.")
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