Album: Winner in You (1986)
Charted: 2 1
  • songfacts ®
  • Lyrics
  • 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 storyline in this song is rather vague, but the couple had something special that is now gone. They are both on their own, looking back on what went wrong. In one of McDonald's verses, he says it's like a divorce, but they weren't even married.
  • 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. The video used a split screen effect to show them each on their own.
  • 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."
  • Sager put off writing the lyrics because she didn't think Bacharach wrote a hit melody. "Finally, just to appease him, I did," she recalled in her memoir They're Playing Our Song. "He also had the title, 'On My Own,' and it was unusual for him to hear actual words to his melodies.

    Every time he'd sing it for me, whatever he was playing on the keyboard made me think it was a Polynesian melody. I could imagine a group of female singers in native costumes, leis around their necks, swaying to Burt's tune. It didn't sound current, and it didn't sound like a hit. But as I started to write the lyric, I began to like it. For one thing, Burt's melody was, for once, spacious enough to give me room to say something."
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Comments: 11

  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn March 16th 1986, "On My Own" by Patti LaBelle and Michael McDonald entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #88; twelve weeks later on June 8th, 1980 it peaked at #1 for three weeks...
    It also reached #1 {for 1 week} on May 11th, 1986 on Billboard's R&B Singles chart...
    And on June 15th, 1986 it peaked at #1 {for 2 weeks} on the Canadian RPM 100 Singles chart....
    Nine years later in 1995 it was covered by Reba McEntire, her version peaked at #20 on Billboard's Hot Country Singles chart...
    Also in 1986 both Patti LaBelle & Michael McDonald charted with solo efforts; Ms. LaBelle's "Oh People" peaked at #29 for one week, while Mr. McDonald's "Sweet Freedom" reached #7 for three weeks.
  • Antonio from Chicago, IlLove 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.
  • Jackie from Baltimore, MdI 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.
  • Earl from Greenwood, In"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).
  • Laurent from Manama, BahrainI 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.
  • John from Salem, CaI 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 from Nashville, TnPatti Labelle and Michael McDonald recorded their parts seperately and never met each other until they performed it on the Tonight Show.
  • Mckenzie from London, United KingdomEver 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.
  • Sara from Silver Spring, MdThere 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.
  • Guy from Woodinville, WaI 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.
  • Sara from Silver Spring, MdOddly 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!
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