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On My Own


Patti LaBelle and Michael McDonald

Songfacts®:  You can leave comments about the song at the bottom of the page.

This was written by Carole Bayer Sager and Burt Bacharach, who were married at the time. They promised the song to Patti LaBelle, but LaBelle's producer Richard Perry was less than impressed, and agreed to let Sager and Bacharach produce it instead. They cut their own backing track, which Patti LaBelle recorded on her own (pun unintended) but it wasn't until Michael McDonald was persuaded to contribute that the song came together.
The duo recorded their parts separately. Patti LaBelle filmed the video in New York and recorded her part in Philadelphia. Michael McDonald did both in LA.
Patti LaBelle was formerly in the R&B vocal group Labelle who scored an American #1 in 1975 with "Lady Marmalade." McDonald was part of the successful '70s west coast rock group The Doobie Brothers, whose biggest hit was the #1 smash "What A Fool Believes."
Labelle told NME in 1986: "The success of 'On My Own' came as a shock. I don't record for commercial value. With 'On My Own' I went into the Studio thinking, I'm gonna record something I love. Usually if I love it, it bubbles under. And I was surprised it made a hit."
1986 was a big year for Carole Bayer Sager and Burt Bacharach. They had another #1 hit earlier in the year with "That's What Friends Are For."
Patti LaBelle and Michael McDonald
More Patti LaBelle and Michael McDonald songs
More songs written by Carole Bayer Sager
More duets
More songs about marital problems or divorce
More songs written by Burt Bacharach and/or Hal David

Comments (10):

Love the song!!! Both are great singers!!! Love Miss LaBelle's high vocal range. It's not screaming, just high range. A gift many don't have.
- Antonio, Chicago, IL
I really like this song, and think Michael McDonald is a great singer. Especially like the line "now I know what loving you cost" - there's always a price to pay.
- Jackie, Baltimore, MD
"Own My On" is in the top five R&B duets of all time. Right along with "Baby Come To Me (James Ingram & Patti Austin), I Love You and Candlelight And You (Keith Washington & Chante' Moore), and "The Closer I Get To You (Donny Hathaway and Roberta Flack).
- Earl, Greenwood, IN
I think it is not an amazing ballad. It is a good song indeed but not outstanding. My favourite part is the tasteful bass part played by the great and unique Neil Stubenhaus.
- Laurent, Manama, Bahrain
I loved this song when it came out and still love to hear McDonald sing it from time to time during his concerts. Patti LaBelle, on the other hand, has become an embarrassment - screaming out phrases rather than singing. Personally I think she can't remember the words, so just goes off on long riffs. You can see this during the concert performance shown on the attached video. McDonald does most of the singing with LaBelle screaming back at him. No wonder this musical couple would have lived apart and broken up if their song had represented real life. McDonald continues to do good work, but LaBelle's best years are far behind her.
- John, Salem, CA
Patti Labelle and Michael McDonald recorded their parts seperately and never met each other until they performed it on the Tonight Show.
- John, Nashville, TN
Ever since I heard this song back in 1986, I have loved this record ever since. It would be lovely if this song was re-released some day. Notice that Ms Labelle didn't need to be singing in her underwear or Mr McDonald didn't need to grab his crotch to score a number one hit with this record (in the USA). I am not a prude by the way - In fact, I am open minded, but I am so bored of some of todays "stars" who feel the need to be half naked to prove they have talent.
- Mckenzie, London, United Kingdom
There is also a version by Reba McEntire from her single album. Instead of finding a male duet partner she used three country artists: Trisha Yearwood, Martina McBride and Linda Davis.
- Sara, Silver Spring, MD
I love this song! I actually don't like Michael McDonald's singing voice, but I can sure overlook it in this case. There's something very hypnotizing about this song--the background singers repeating "on my own," I guess. Oh well, I just love everything about this song. Especially the line "...and we weren't even married." Funny/poignant at the same time.
- Guy, Woodinville, WA
Oddly enough Patti LaBelle covered Michael McDonald's version of "I Keep Forgettin'" on one of her recent albums. She should have done it with him since it really is his signature song
And they would do it finally together!
- Sara, Silver Spring, MD
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