30 years after their classic "Islands in the Stream," Dolly and Kenny's "You Can't Make Old Friends" gets more Grammy love
Rare is the friendship that lasts 30 years, and rarer still is the one that earns three Grammy nominations.
“You Can’t Make Old Friends,” the duo’s latest collaboration, was nominated for the Best Country Group/Duo Performance Grammy Friday night, their third nomination in as many decades performing together.
The longtime friends have never won together (though both were honored in 1988 for their work with others). But you don’t care about that. What you care about is sweet, sweet vocal harmonies, performed by two singers who have infinite trust and affection for each other.
Let’s look back on the pair’s previous Grammy-nominated duets below:
The classic. “Islands in the Stream” is a love song so timeless it’s impossible to believe it only came out in 1983 – it sounds as old as the air we breathe. How do you pick a favorite part? The way they roll over the “uh-huh”s? The way Dolly’s voice quivers at “slowly losing sight of the real thing”? The way they harmonize on that perfect little internal rhyme “the message is clear, this could be the year”? Consider this our official apology for not really loving the song back when it first came out.
If “Islands in the Stream” belongs to all of time, its follow-up is undeniably a product of its time. Some of the production, particularly the synthetic chimes and tinny guitars, seems embarrassingly ’80s today, but that doesn’t stop “Real Love” from being an appealing dark horse in the Parton-Rogers canon. Take it out for a spin next time you do karaoke – you won’t be disappointed.
This is a very cute song about the nature of life-long friendships that also happens to be marked by the specter of death. Both Dolly and Kenny spend their first verses imagining how they’ll react to the other’s demise, and this morbidity adds an appealing plainspokenness to the otherwise-heartwarming proceeds. They’ve clearly been friends for far too long to beat around the bush.
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