Porter Wagoner and Dolly Parton, 'Just the Two of Us'
This Porter and Dolly set is about as grim as country music gets. On the pair's second album, couples stay stuck in relationships that have long since died ("Holding on to Nothing"), struggle with work and fight over money ("We'll Get Ahead Someday"), and they cheat on their spouses repeatedly, waiting for discoveries they're already predicting will shatter the hearts of everyone involved (a scary beautiful "Dark End of the Street," just for example). In "The Party," one of two dead baby songs Parton contributes, the parents tell a story in which they believe it was their own selfishness that killed their kids in a fire. And you know Porter and Dolly are fully committed to exploring country's dark and troubled side of life when the one light of hope found here is the eternal flame placed on a grave in Parton's other dead baby contribution, "Jeannie's Afraid of the Dark." In a country era known for male-female duets, this duet album might be the best.