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The Couple That Plays Together: World Cafe's Top 10 Musical Couples

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The Couple That Plays Together: World Cafe's Top 10 Musical Couples

The Couple That Plays Together: World Cafe's Top 10 Musical Couples

The Couple That Plays Together: World Cafe's Top 10 Musical Couples

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Jason Isbell and Amanda Shires perform during the 2015 Americana Honors and Awards. Rick Diamond/Getty Images hide caption

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Rick Diamond/Getty Images

Jason Isbell and Amanda Shires perform during the 2015 Americana Honors and Awards.

Rick Diamond/Getty Images

Relationships are hard work. Music is hard work. And somehow, these magical musical couples manage to make both work at the same time. It's beautiful, it's enviable and it deserves celebrating. So happy Valentine's Day from World Cafe to these 10 past guests: lovebirds who are also bandmates.

Hear the Valentine's Day special in the player above and stream the complete sessions from the World Cafe archives below.

Hear The Sessions

  • Gillian Welch and David Rawlings

    Henry Diltz/Courtesy of the artist
    David Rawlings & Gillian Welch
    Henry Diltz/Courtesy of the artist

    In the summer of 1992, a couple of country-folk singer-songwriters and new Berklee graduates packed up their acoustic guitars in Boston to seek the unknown in Nashville. More than two decades later, Gillian Welch and David Rawlings have become Music City royalty together. They claim to avoid discussing their couple status for fear of sounding "hokey and lame." Or maybe they just don't need to — because Welch and Rawlings are so naturally intertwined in music and in life that coupledom seems less like a topic of discussion and more like oxygen.

    Gillian Welch and David Rawlings On World Cafe 12/21/2016

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  • Dean & Britta

    Dean & Britta
    Courtesy of the artist

    Some couples spend Saturday night going to the movies. Dean Wareham and Britta Phillips spend Saturday nights scoring movies like Noah Baumbach's Mistress America and The Squid And The Whale. On other Saturday nights, they perform live music under projections of Andy Warhol's silent films from The Factory era as commissioned by the Warhol Museum. On other Saturday nights, they jam on one of the three records they've released as a duo. On other Saturday nights, presumably, they sit around just being effortlessly cool and maybe ordering pizza.

    Dean & Britta On World Cafe

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  • Amanda Shires and Jason Isbell

    Rick Diamond/Getty Images
    Jason Isbell and Amanda Shires
    Rick Diamond/Getty Images

    When Jason Isbell sang "Cover Me Up" at a recent taping of A Prairie Home Companion, he dedicated it to his wife, fellow musician Amanda Shires, who helped him turn his life around and get sober. The song features the heartfelt words "but home was a dream, one I'd never seen, '
til you came along." About a month prior, Shires had visited World Cafe and had sung the lyrics "You are my home, wherever you go." She told us she wrote that song, "My Piece Of Land," about her husband and recorded it while she was very pregnant with their first child. Having heard each of them sing their love for the other separately, one can only imagine what it would be like to see them onstage together.

    Jason Isbell On World Cafe

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  • Shovels & Rope

    Courtesy of the artist
    Shovels & Rope
    Courtesy of the artist

    Most newlywed couples dream of buying their first home together. Shovels & Rope's Michael Trent and Cary Ann Hearst turned a 15-seat touring van into a mobile-home love nest for two, with brown burlap for makeshift curtains and a Walmart parking lot for a backyard. When they perform live it's just the two of them. They switch off on instruments, fill in each other's musical blanks and sing in sweet, sexy harmony. Hearst and Trent don't make a habit of answering many questions about their relationship — maybe because the chemistry you'll see at a Shovels & Rope show tells you everything you need to know.

    The Couple That Plays Together: World Cafe's Top 10 Musical Couples

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  • Mates of State

    Courtesy of the artist
    Mates Of State
    Courtesy of the artist

    Last year Kori Gardner and Jason Hammel, a.k.a. Mates of State, released the song "Staring Contest," in which they admit to every perpetually single, commitment-phobic rock star's biggest fear: "I once was wild." They've been married for nearly two decades. They've raised two children. Wild, as a state of being, is probably past tense. But what follows in those lyrics is the key to having it all as partners in life and in music: "I'm wild about you."

    Mates Of State

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  • The Weepies

    The Weepies
    Courtesy of the artist

    The Weepies' secret to a successful work-love relationship? When life deals you lemons, make parkour. Steve Tannen and Deb Talan had already been married and making folk-pop music together for more than a decade when Talan was diagnosed with Stage III breast cancer. They faced the battle together, recording the soft and powerful "No Trouble" in the same week she started chemo. And in 2015 they celebrated her remission by leaping over tall buildings all over LA in the extreme parkour music video.

    Listen Now

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  • Tedeschi Trucks Band

    Mark Seliger/Courtesy of the artist
    Tedeschi Trucks Band
    Mark Seliger/Courtesy of the artist

    When Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks decided to put their successful solo careers aside to join forces in 2010, they had already been married for almost a decade and were raising two kids. They adopted 12 more family members in the form of a giant touring ensemble and hit the road as Tedeschi Trucks Band. And we hope that every year on Valentine's Day, they turn their 2012 Grammy award for Best Blues Album on its side and use it as a vase for a dozen long-stemmed roses.

    Tedeschi Trucks Band On World Cafe

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  • Amadou & Mariam

    Bernard Benand/Courtesy of the artist
    Amadou and Mariam
    Bernard Benand/Courtesy of the artist

    When Amadou Bagayoko was began attending Mali's Institute for the Young Blind in the 1970s, he says, "being blind was the worst thing that could happen to you in Malian society." That is, until he heard the sweet music of a classmate — and his future wife — Mariam Doumbia. Since then, Amadou & Mariam have broken incredible musical ground both in West Africa and abroad, become grandparents and opened for U2.

    Amadou & Mariam in Studio on World Cafe 4/22/09

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  • Yo La Tengo

    Carlie Armstron/Courtesy of the artist
    Yo La Tengo
    Carlie Armstron/Courtesy of the artist

    This is about as badass it gets, kids: Since 1984, Ira Kaplan and Georgia Hubley have crushed a super-successful rock 'n' roll career that is absolutely scandal-free. They are two of the three core members of Yo La Tengo, a band arguably most beloved for its encyclopedic catalog of covers, but whose original song canon is just as exceptional. For a window into Kaplan and Hubley's humble, genuine and aspirational love, listen to "Last Days of Disco" and pine.

    Yo La Tengo On World Cafe

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  • Tennis

    Lori Paulson /KCRW
    Tennis
    Lori Paulson /KCRW

    Nora Ephron may as well have written this screenplay. Alaina Moore and Patrick Riley met in philosophy class in college. It took years of dating before Moore discovered Riley could actually play the guitar she had seen collecting dust in his closet. Then they sold all their possessions and sailed the Atlantic for seven months, thinking their musical passions were behind them. That's until they heard The Shirelles' "Baby It's You" playing on the radio at a dive-y tiki bar in the Florida Keys, and decided they wanted to make music like that together, happily ever after. Roll credits.

    The Couple That Plays Together: World Cafe's Top 10 Musical Couples

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