Patti Labelle and Michael McDonald – On My Own

On My Own – Patti Labelle and Michael McDonald | Top 40 Chart Performance, Story and Song Meaning

Chart Performance: Pop (#1 for 3 weeks) & R&B (#1 for 4 weeks); 1986

Story Behind The Song By Ed Osborne

The first new #1 of 1986, That’s What Friends Are For, was written by husband-and-wife Burt Bacharach and Carole Bayer Sager, who’d previously worked on the Academy awardwinning #1 Arthur’s Theme (Best That You Can Do). Their second #1 of ’86 – On My Own – took a long time to come together as Carole struggled with the lyrics to Burt’s melody. Finally the song jelled. They recorded the track with a live band, then added a vocal by Patti LaBelle, who’d hit the heights once before with Lady Marmalade. Despite Patti’s fine performance, Carole felt there was something missing. She placed a call to Michael McDonald, who’d also recorded the chart topper What A Fool Believes with the Doobie Brothers, and he contributed some singing after the bridge. However, everyone loved the blend of his and Patti’s voices so much, he was brought back in to expand his part. All the fine-tuning was worth it: On My Own ended up the third biggest record of 1986.

This content and all Song Meaning articles were created and written by Top 40 Contributing Editor Ed Osborne. © 2023 Ed Osborne. All Rights Reserved. In addition to these song meaning articles, Ed has written our “Year in Music 1960s-1990s” articles.

Produced by:

  • Burt Bacharach
  • Carole Bayer Sager

Lyrics Written by:

  • Burt Bacharach
  • Carole Bayer Sager


  • Grammy Awards Nominee for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group for “On My Own” (1987)