What Are Friends For?

The GRAMMY Friendship Day playlist
  • Photo: Michael Caulfield/WireImage.com
    Neil Diamond and Barbra Streisand
  • Photo: Ed Rode/WireImage.com
    Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers
  • Photo: Theo Wargo/WireImage.com
    Elton John and Gladys Knight
  • Photo: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic.com
    Sean "Diddy" Combs and Faith Evans
  • Photo: Ron Wolfson/WireImage.com
    Jennifer Warnes and Joe Cocker
  • Photo: Lester Cohen/WireImage.com
    Rob Thomas and Carlos Santana
  • Photo: Chris McKay/WireImage.com
    Stevie Nicks and Tom Petty
  • Photo: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic.com
    Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre
July 30, 2010 -- 6:00 am PDT
GRAMMY.com

There aren't many things more important than friendship. A friend is someone you can talk with about a problem, someone who is always there when you need a hand, someone you can trust with your deepest secrets, someone who makes you laugh, or even someone you can poke on Facebook. And a friend can be anyone or anything: a parent, a sibling, a classmate, a pet, a stuffed animal, or even invisible.

In recognizing the important role friends play in people's lives, in 1935 Congress proclaimed the first Sunday in August as Friendship Day. The idea is simple: spend time with your friends and express your love and appreciation for them. The holiday has caught on globally as friends worldwide take part in the celebration, led by friendship ambassador Winnie the Pooh, who was named to the post in 1997 by the United Nations.

Of course, artists and musicians know the importance of friendship. Whether it is a bandmate, producer, songwriter, or manager, an artist needs a good team of friends he/she can trust. Sometimes musical friendship can manifest itself in other ways, such as getting together with a fellow artist in the spirit of collaboration.

With the latter thought in mind, we present our GRAMMY Friendship Day playlist featuring memorable pairings and duets, and the coveted fruits of thy friendships: the songs. 

 

Neil Diamond & Barbra Streisand (iTunes>)
"You Don't Bring Me Flowers," Record Of The Year nominee, 1979

Written by Diamond with Alan and Marilyn Bergman, Diamond and Streisand each recorded solo versions of this solemn song and an enterprising disc jockey spliced together both versions, which ultimately resulted in the pair coming together for their duet recording. It was a good idea as the duet hit the summit of the Billboard Hot 100 in 1978, and was followed by a memorable performance at the 22nd Annual GRAMMY Awards in 1980.

 

Joe Cocker & Jennifer Warnes (iTunes>)
"Up Where We Belong," Best Pop Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal, 1982

Appearing on the soundtrack for An Officer And A Gentleman, this uplifting No. 1 hit almost didn't happen. Film producer Don Simpson demanded it be shelved from the soundtrack, saying at the time, "The song is no good. It isn't a hit." The magic combination of Cocker and Warnes ultimately proved him wrong. Songwriters Will Jennings, Jack Nitzsche and Buffy Sainte-Marie also took home the Oscar for best original song in 1982.

 

Bill Medley & Jennifer Warnes (iTunes>)
"(I've Had) The Time Of My Life," Best Pop Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal, 1987

Warnes makes a second playlist appearance with her duet with Medley featured in Dirty Dancing. Who could forget the film's dancing finale? Frances "Baby" Houseman (played by Jennifer Grey) overcomes her trepidation and trusts both herself and her dancing partner, Johnny Castle (played by Patrick Swayze), to allow him to lift her up figuratively and literally, set to the perfect backdrop of "(I've Had) The Time Of My Life." The song also picked up the Oscar for best original song in 1987.

 

Robert Plant & Alison Krauss (iTunes>)
"Please Read The Letter," Record Of The Year, 2008

The Album Of The Year winner in 2008, Raising Sand, was spawned by the unlikely combination of a bluegrass princess and rock royalty. The collaboration, which also featured the able assistance of producer T Bone Burnett, proved to be fruitful as Krauss and Plant struck GRAMMY gold five times over. Asked to sum up the partnership with Krauss, Plant said in a 2007 interview: "We're happy. We feel good together, this seems to be a good little team."

 

Santana & Rob Thomas (iTunes>)
"Smooth," Record Of The Year, 1999

Santana employed a large cast of friends for his 1999 album Supernatural, including Eric Clapton, Lauryn Hill, Maná, and Dave Matthews. Most notably, his teamwork with Matchbox Twenty singer Thomas on "Smooth" resulted in one of the top songs not only of the year, but of the last 50 years. In 2008 Billboard named "Smooth" as the No. 2 song on its list of the Billboard Hot 100's top 100 songs from its first 50 years, only behind Chubby Checker's "The Twist."

 

Paul McCartney & Stevie Wonder (iTunes>)
"Ebony And Ivory," Record Of The Year nominee, 1982

A song embodying harmony and true friendship, "Ebony And Ivory" united two legends in McCartney and Wonder. The song's call-and-response includes a reference to black-and-white keys being side by side on a piano, underscoring its theme of racial harmony. Penned solely by Macca, the song lived in perfect harmony at No. 1 on both sides of the Atlantic in 1982.

 

Dolly Parton & Kenny Rogers (iTunes>)
"Islands In The Stream," Best Pop Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal nominee, 1983

Written by the Bee Gees, "Islands In The Stream" was the start of a beautiful friendship between two of country's finest artists. After riding the stream all the way to No. 1, Parton and Rogers proceeded to record a Christmas album and would eventually team for another duet in 1985, "Real Love," which was followed by a brief U.S. tour.

 

Faith Evans & Puff Daddy (iTunes>)
"I'll Be Missing You," Best Rap Performance By A Duo Or Group, 1997

Diddy, the artist formerly known as Puffy and Puff Daddy, joined with Evans for the touching "I'll Be Missing You" to honor the late Notorious B.I.G, who was murdered in 1997. The song borrows the melody and basic structure from the Police's "Every Breath You Take." Friendship assist: Sting.

 

Dr. Dre & Snoop Dogg (iTunes>)
"Nuthin' But A 'G' Thang," Best Rap Performance By A Duo Or Group nominee, 1993

Featured on Dr. Dre's seminal hip-hop album, The Chronic, "Nuthin' But A 'G' Thang" paired Dre with then-new artist Snoop Dogg. In true friendship fashion, the music video depicts Dre trekking to pick up Snoop for a block party blowout featuring volleyball, barbeque and other thangs.

 

Stevie Nicks & Tom Petty (iTunes>)
"Stop Draggin' My Heart Around," Best Rock Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal nominee, 1981

For her first solo album outside Fleetwood Mac, Nicks enlisted the talents of Petty and his band the Heartbreakers in 1981 on "Stop Draggin' My Heart Around." The song features spirited vocal interplay between Petty and Nicks, with backing from the entire Heartbreakers roster. In reciprocal friendship nature, earlier that year Nicks sang vocals on tracks featured on Petty's Hard Promises album.

 

Mariah Carey & Boyz II Men (iTunes>)
"One Sweet Day," Record Of The Year nominee, 1995

Boyz II Men and Carey teamed for this soaring ballad, featured on Carey's Daydream album, in 1995. The somber verse lyrics lament a friend who has passed while the chorus offers optimism with the hopes of a reunion in heaven "one sweet day." The song holds the distinction for having the longest run (16 weeks) at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100.

 

Johnny Cash & Joe Strummer
"Redemption Song," Best Pop Collaboration With Vocals nominee, 2004

The pairing of former Clash member Strummer and country legend Cash proved to be equally redeeming and exciting. Their cover of Bob Marley's "Redemption Song," a song encouraging emancipation from "mental slavery," made its way on to Cash's box set, Unearthed, in 2003. Sadly, these two friends are no longer with us: Strummer died in 2002 and Cash died in 2003.

 

Babyface & Eric Clapton (iTunes>)
"Change The World," Record Of The Year, 1996

Clapton and Babyface teamed for "Change The World" for Phenomenon, a film telling the tale of a small-town man (played by John Travolta) who unexpectedly attains telekinetic powers. The classic rock guitar titan and smooth R&B crooner rode this song all the way to No. 1 with the help of some other friends, songwriters Gordon Kennedy, Wayne Kirkpatrick and Tommy Sims.

 

k.d. lang & Roy Orbison (iTunes>)
"Crying," Best Country Vocal Collaboration, 1988

Sometimes it's a friend who can make all the difference. Canadian songstress lang got one of her first big career breaks touring as a backup singer with Orbison, and received another when Orbison decided to record a duet with her on "Crying" in 1987. Orbison originally wrote the song with Joe Melson and released it in 1961. The duet marked lang's first appearance on the Country Singles chart.

 

Judy Garland & Gene Kelly (iTunes>)
"For Me And My Gal," GRAMMY Hall Of Fame, 2010

Graduating from the role of Dorothy in The Wizard Of Oz, a then-20-year-old Garland played her first adult role in 1942's For Me And My Gal. The film is set during World War I and follows the journey of two talented performers, Jo Hayden (Garland) and Harry Palmer (Kelly), with grand plans for vaudeville success. The song was inducted into the GRAMMY Hall Of Fame in 2010, becoming Garland's sixth recording to earn Hall honors. 

 

Elton John, Gladys Knight, Dionne Warwick & Stevie Wonder (iTunes>)
"That's What Friends Are For," Song Of The Year, 1986

What's better than a duet? How about four GRAMMY-winning artists getting together to perform a song that speaks to the true meaning of friendship.

 

What songs symbolize friendship to you? Drop us a comment.

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