08/26/2014 05:32 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Love Made Musical

"Music is love made visible," says Patti of Tuck and Patti. From a mere mortal, the words would ring hollow, but Tuck and Patti make it real. One listen to their tunes, with Tuck providing epic solo guitar orchestration behind Patti's gut grabbing voice, will tell you two things: they have mad skills and they have the heart to reach to the depth of your being. Only love can do that, to echo MLK.


I spoke with the duo to write about their upcoming Hawaii shows. Honestly, I have been a fan for a long time, and with good reason: they are exquisite. The interview went on much longer than expected, and provided a glimpse into an exceptional relationship that began 36 years ago at a random audition for a doomed lounge band. As a couple and duo, gel they did. What follows did not fit the music review, and may seem overly reverent, but their words were touchingly human and insightful. The quotes are sometimes long, but the content justifies allowing them to complete their thoughts.

"We always call it musical love at first sight," Tuck explains. "But it was musical love at first sight."

In concert, in their videos, in their music, Tuck and Patti ooze a deep, unabashed love that would make a massage therapist blush. One never knows what happens backstage, but in this case, the hype doesn't lie.

"We're kind of boring I think" Patti says. "I mean, we genuinely love each other, we love to be with each other, and it sounds like it has to be made up. It doesn't sound real. We both have this feeling almost 36 years later, that it's just--wow."

Tuck and Patti express awareness that their situation is unique and beautiful, and that it doesn't come without work.

"It's not that we don't argue and fight like couples do," Patti relates, "but especially after this many years you kind of get over so much of it."

In fact, psychological research says that the biggest keys to a successful relationship are the ability to forgive, and even better, an unreasonably positive view of the partner and the relationship. The ultimate, though, is a transcendent connection, something bigger that provides common ground.

"We go through the same stuff of sickness and families," Patti explains. "But in the midst of all of it, we've had this strong foundation of this music we love, that we're passionate about. And we travel around the world with each other. So when we go to talk about it, it's not difficult, but it sounds so made up [laughs]."

Celebrity couples seem to spend most of their time together splitting up. Bands are even more notorious, with Fleetwood Mac, Sonny and Cher, and Hall and Oates all calling it quits, not to mention Rihanna and Drake, or this week's next love gone bad. So how do these two stick it out?

"You just deal with it," Patti says. "For us, we've never taken it on stage. I think in this situation, because there's just two of us, there's not other members of the band to diffuse stuff, well that means we have to stay pretty present. You can't be walking around carrying a grudge. Even if you're still tender from an argument, as soon as we open our mouths or start to play, it's just gone. Because of the content, I think, of the music, and the foundation that we stand on. Which for us is Love in every form. Whether it be, you know, divine, and--it's a gift to play music, so it's hard to bring a lot of conflict while that's happening."

In that statement lies another clue: sense of purpose.

"With Tuck and I when we got together," Patti continues, "we went, well, what do we want this to do? How do we want people to feel when it's over? What do we want it to say? And we just decided we wanted people to feel uplifted and get a moment off and to feel some sense of joy and some sense of peace in the middle of all this madness. I'd never been in a band before where people actually talked about that."

As with most of the great musicians I have interviewed, this music that provides the foundation of their lives was not really a choice.

"Why does somebody say 'gee, I'm going to go to medical school and be horribly in debt'?" Patti asks. "It's that same passion that takes you over with music. And I think that when it is a passion, then you don't think about how hard it will be to step off that cliff."

"I'm not sure why an individual would be drawn to make music as opposed to some other endeavor," Tuck continues, "but I'm pretty sure that the ultimate effect of music, like the ultimate effect of art in general, and maybe the ultimate effect of everything beautiful, is to serve as a pointer to something higher. And I think that is supported by the fact that art is never satisfying. Beauty is never satisfying. You can look at the most beautiful thing you've ever seen or hear the most perfect piece of music, and it may be deeply moving, but ultimately, you go away with a deeper sense of longing. So I think it's a pointer to something higher. We think of it as a pointer to the divine. And I think that's the attractiveness of it, the ultimate result, it takes you higher and higher and higher."

Tuck and Patti were adults when they fell in love, and unusually mature for their breakout musical success. In both regards, unwavering commitment never to compromise their vision makes their saga mythic in scale.

"It's kind of amazing to us that we've succeeded as much as we have without approaching it in a commercial way at all, Tuck reminisces. "We're clearly commercially successful, but that was never our goal, and we're keenly aware of how fortunate we are and that you can't take that kind of thing for granted. I think it gives us a feeling of even more of a sense of responsibility to do the right thing with the music, because we have been somehow mysteriously granted this kind of success without having to in any way bend the music to achieve that kind of goal. It's kind of amazing we got here by doing that."

Tuck and Patti appear twice in Hawaii, on this 36th anniversary of their union, at the MACC on Maui, August 30, and at the Doris Duke Theater on Oahu, August 31. For the article that prompted this interview, see