LaBelle, McDonald On Their Own, Together

A heartwrenching duet in this week's Forgotten Videos
  • Patti LaBelle in "One My Own"
June 29, 2011 -- 7:00 am PDT
GRAMMY.com

Welcome to Forgotten Videos. For some, these videos are forgotten, for others just filed away, and for others still, a totally brand-new discovery. Whichever category you fall into, each week we'll feature a video that's possibly been collecting dust when what it really deserves is a fresh look. Or vice-versa…. We're not here to judge, we just want to take you on a little trip down memory lane. Yep, you'll remember when hair was really that big, when drums were that up front in the mix, when video was young(er) and so were you.

Patti LaBelle Featuring Michael McDonald
"On My Own"
1986

"On My Own" marked the breakthrough of Patti LaBelle as a solo artist. It also highlighted a period of revitalization for songwriter Burt Bacharach, a few lyrical curiosities courtesy of lyricist — and Bacharach's then-wife — Carol Bayer Sager, and arguably LaBelle's biggest hairdo ever (unless you count the video for her minor 1989 hit "If You Asked Me To").

LaBelle, with duet partner Michael McDonald, took "On My Own" all the way to No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, her first and only solo No. 1, and only hit to top the chart aside from her group LaBelle's "Lady Marmalade" in 1975.

The song was part of a mid-'80s renaissance for songwriter Bacharach, one of the top songwriters of the '60s and '70s who scored a huge No. 1 hit the year prior with the GRAMMY-winning Song Of The Year "That's What Friends Are For" by Elton John, Gladys Knight, Dionne Warwick, and Stevie Wonder.

"On My Own" connected with listeners thanks to its universal theme, the heartache of divorce, even though the song apparently wasn't about divorce at all. One of its most talked about lines was this oddity: "Now we're up to talking divorce/And we weren't even married." Perhaps this was poetic license, a way to suggest the magnitude of a breakup.

But Bayer Sager teased us with other non sequiturs such as "Something in my heart always knew/I'd be lying here beside you/On my own...." Now that's a sadly broken relationship: lying with her man, yet on her own.

The video is a no-frills affair: a split-screen of the broken pair with LaBelle in the couple's packed-up multimillion-dollar penthouse ruing her breakup, and McDonald at their lavish beach house apparently doing the same. At the end, both appear ready to end it all — LaBelle by a potential jump from the Brooklyn Bridge, and McDonald eying the fall from a cliff, perhaps in the Hamptons.

The tune ends before any tragic suicides occur, and in reality things turned out quite happily for both singers as the song earned the pair a GRAMMY nomination for Best Pop Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal.

Have you talked divorce without being married? Got any Forgotten Video recommendations? Leave us a comment.

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