Co-writing: one of the most powerful songwriting secrets of the music industry. Some of the greatest commercial songwriters in history have been co-writing duos, so this is not a passing fad; it’s actually a tried and true formula! So, if you’re an indie artist looking to grow in your music career, then this is definitely an avenue to explore! Let’s examine some winning commercial songwriting partnerships in history to discover why co-writing can matter so much.
Duo 1: John Lennon and Paul McCartney
With no need for an introduction, these legendary members of The Beatles prolifically wrote rock n’ roll hits from 1962 to the band’s break-up in ‘69. Although many of The Beatles songs are attributed to both Lennon and McCartney, they actually only co-wrote about 18 full songs together, although they contributed small elements to one another’s songs frequently.
Duo 2: Elton John and Bernie Taupin
Combining these two masterminds resulted in fifty years of beloved, rocking songs like “Tiny Dancer” and “Rocket Man”, plus 57 Top 40 charts hits! Taupin provided the lyrics, and John wrote the music that millions still know and love.
Duo 3: Burt Bacharach and Hal David
The duo behind theatrical hits like “What’s New Pussycat?“, “Alfie”, “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head”, and “(They Long To Be) Close To You” successfully wrote songs with a heavy jazz chord influence, David’s incredible lyric-writing sensibility, and all the complexity that came with Bacharach’s degree in classical composition. Their songs range in age from the late 50s to the early 70s, and these songs have continued to speak to listeners through the years. Bacharach and David were also the first-ever pair of songwriters to receive the Gershwin Prize for popular song in 2011.
Duo 4: Mick Jagger and Keith Richards
As pioneers of genre-defining rock songs for the Rolling Stones, Jager and Richards have helped fan the flames of revolution and rebellion since the heart of the 60s rock era with their societal commentaries, infectious rhythms, and iconic refrains exemplified in “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction”. Although some members of the band have changed, The Rolling Stones have continued their award-winning success in touring and recording up to the present day!
Duo 5: Carol King and Gerry Goffin
Pop power couple King and Goffin produced plenty of hits together, such as “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow”, before their divorce, after which King continued her songwriter career and created her legendary solo album Tapestry. Their songs were recorded by multiple legendary bands, including their list-mates, The Beatles!
Duo 6: Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong
This Motown label duo combined psychedelic, soul, and funk music in the experimental age of hippies and social revolution. To their credit are classics like “Heard It Through The Grapevine” and work with The Temptations, including the song “Ball of Confusion.” Whitfield and Strong’s worldwide influence continues to shape the future of music.
Duo 7: Ashford and Simpson
Another set of artists hailing from the radical 60s, this second married couple on the list was also a songwriter duo for the Motown label. They crafted songs like the ever-popular “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”. With roots in gospel music and a penchant for soul, Ashford and Simpson worked with some of the greatest artists in their genre, including Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, and Marvin Gaye, to create many classics. In 2014, after her husband’s death, Simpson received an honorary doctorate in music from Berklee College of Music.
Do you have a co-writer?
Maybe by now you are rushing out the door to go find a co-writer! As long as you keep writing your most excellent music, networking, and putting yourself out there, don’t worry; you will naturally find co-writers that complement your style in time!