Every day, I run across something that reminds me that unlikely collaborations can lead to amazing creations…

I was home alone last night. My husband, Bill, was on his way home from New York City, where he attended a job interview. The interview seemed to go well; we should know the outcome within the next week or so. Anyway, as is my habit, I was trying not to drink alcohol while he was gone. I think it’s a good practice not to and a good exercise in self-discipline. I lasted until about 8:00pm, then cracked open a beer. Bill was on his way home, after all. Oftentimes, when I start drinking beer, I get to a point at which I want to listen to music. That’s what happened last night. I realized that my music collection has quite a few unlikely collaborations in it. You know, music that was made by people you wouldn’t expect to get together…

I kind of touched on this theme last week, when I wrote my post about oddly awesome covers. Maybe, once I listened to it, it wasn’t a huge stretch for Ricky Skaggs to make a record with Bruce Hornsby… though on the surface, it seems like their collaborations would be unlikely. As I was listening last night, I ran across some other unlikely collaborations. Texas legend Willie Nelson is pretty good for this practice. A few years ago, he made an album with Wynton Marsalis, famed jazz trumpeter.

“My Bucket’s Got A Hole In It” is one of my favorite tracks from the unlikely collaboration of Wynton Marsalis and Willie Nelson. This was on their album, Two Men With The Blues.

I ran across a very cool song Willie Nelson did with Santana back in the 1980s…

I found this unlikely collaboration a few years ago, when I decided to download some Santana. It works.

The great opera star Pavorotti had a very successful album series in the early 90s. He got together with rock stars like Sting, Bryan Adams, and even Barry White…

Sting and Pavorotti

Pavorotti and Barry White??? Wow… I wouldn’t have put them together.

A few days ago, I read a very interesting article about funny country-alt singer and author Todd Snider. I own a few Todd Snider albums, having discovered his hilarious song “Beer Run”. I wouldn’t imagine he’d want to collaborate with a singer like Garth Brooks. But wouldn’t you know it? The “Friends In Low Places” country star sure enough wanted to cover one of Todd Snider’s songs. Garth Brooks was interested in recording Snider’s “Alright Guy” for his 1999 album, In the Life of Chris Gaines and even wanted Snider to play guitar on the project. It turned out Brooks didn’t end up putting the song on his album because his mother objected to the subject matter. But still, it’s a pretty cool story about two seemingly unrelated artists getting together to create something different.

Todd Snider plays “Alright Guy” live.

A few years ago, Emmylou Harris got together with Mark Knopfler and they made a fine album.

Here they sing “Done With Bonaparte”… I love this!

One might wonder why a country folk singer would hook up with a legendary rock guitarist like Mark Knopfler, who was the front man for Dire Straits for years and brought us songs like “Money For Nothing” and “Walk of Life”. But they blend pretty damn well, I think… kind of like Alison Krauss and Robert Plant.

Alison Krauss and Robert Plant get together on a cover of “Black Dog”…

I remember when I first heard about Alison Krauss and Robert Plant teaming up. It seemed like an unlikely collaboration, but their 2007 album Raising Sand was a huge success. I started thinking about other people I’d love to hear Alison Krauss play with… like Mark Knopfler! Why not?

Music is a universal language and like any art, it can be expanded and shaped into new and unusual directions. I love finding unlikely collaborations among musicians I admire.