Country music's history is full of iconic duos -- Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash, Brooks & Dunn, and Tim McGraw and Faith Hill, to name just a few -- but we'd be hard-pressed to think of a pair more iconic than Loretta Lynn and Conway Twitty.
Between 1971 and 1988, Lynn and Twitty released 11 studio albums together and charted 12 singles, five of which shot to No. 1 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart. Known for their onstage banter and near-theatrical interpretations of their songs, Lynn and Twitty had a chemistry that could weave seamlessly from humor to heartbreak, to a love ballad and back again.
Lynn and Twitty's stage personas caused many to suspect that they were having a real-life affair. Although their relationship never extended beyond friendship and music, they shared an understandably close bond. In addition to their work together, both artists pursued wildly successful solo careers in country music.
Below are The Boot's pics for the five best of Twitty and Lynn's duets, recorded throughout their substantial career together.
"After the Fire Is Gone" From: 'We Only Make Believe' (1971)
Twitty and Lynn's first No. 1 hit as a duo, this song tells the story of a couple that falls in love while still married to other people. The subject matter sparked controversy, and rumors that the singing duo was romantically entangled, but the pair maintained throughout their careers that they were friends with great onstage chemistry, and nothing more. Despite the song's forlorn lyrics, Twitty and Lynn clearly had a lot of fun performing this tune; their live performances showcased their trademark back-and-forth and seamless harmonies.
"As Soon as I Hang Up the Phone"From: 'Country Partners' (1974)
This poignant ballad takes an unconventional -- and theatrical -- approach: Twitty's lines are spoken, whereas Lynn sings her parts. The lyrics describe a breakup taking place over the phone: Twitty sorrowfully tells Lynn that their relationship is over as she pleads for a way to save the relationship, first in disbelief and then in despair. In order to achieve the sound of the telephone call, Twitty recorded his part while in another room, speaking the lines over the phone to Lynn as she performed in a recording booth.
"You're the Reason Our Kids Are Ugly"From: 'Honky Tonk Heroes' (1978)
Lynn and Twitty may been masters of the breakup ballad, but they proved that they could do comedy just as well with this 1978 performance. The song tells the story of a couple that playfully ribs on each other's flaws: "You're the reason I switched to beer from soda pop," Twitty sings. "You're the reason I never get to go to the beauty shop," Lynn shoots back. Despite their complaints, it's evident that this couple is still very much in love, despite not being perfect and not having much money.
"Lead Me On"From: 'Lead Me On' (1971)
Lynn called on her soaring vocal range for this gorgeous, heartfelt number. The love song, rather salacious for its day, describes a man asking a woman for deeper intimacy, and while the lyrics are vague, the message is clear: "If you want me, I'll go with you, but you'll have to lead me on," Lynn sings, smiling broadly. The song won the duo their first of four CMAs, for Vocal Duo of the Year.
"Louisiana Woman, Mississippi Man"From: 'Louisiana Woman, Mississippi Man' (1973)
The third single to be released in the pair's duet series, "Louisiana Woman, Mississippi Man" spent a total of 13 weeks on the country charts in 1973, peaking at No. 1. A love song with an uptempo beat that captures both the duo's onstage charisma and vocal chops, the track is quintessential Twitty / Lynn magic, and is our top pick in the pair's musical legacy.