Before his death earlier this month, Leon Russell had almost become somewhat of a musical footnote, where surviving peers like Jagger and Ringo are still going strong. A musician’s musician, he had played iconic keyboard parts on hit records of the 1960s as part of the legendary A-Team to literally no popular acclaim, but he would see some success when he stepped out as an artist in the 1970s. And when his star faded in popular terms, Russell continued to work with everyone from New Grass Revival to Bruce Hornsby, and was one of the most respected players of his generation by peers of every genre.
His catalog as a writer, though, continues to live on. Russell wrote songs that were huge hits for other people, like the Carpenters’ “Superstar” (co-written with Bonnie Bramlett) and “This Masquerade,” which was the biggest hit George Benson ever had. The song of Russell’s that became a true classic, and has been recorded in excess of 100 times by other artists, was “A Song for You.”
Russell told filmmaker Denny Tedesco that when he wrote “A Song for You” he was trying to write a standard, and he seems to have succeeded. A heartfelt appeal for forgiveness from his lover, the song is a universal ballad that everyone, no matter what their musical preference, can identify with when Russell – or whomever, from Ray Charles to Michael Bublè to Bizzy Bone – is singing:
I know your image of me is what I hope to be I've treated you unkindly but darlin' can't you see There’s no one more important to me Darlin’ can't you please see through me Cause we're alone now and I'm... Sign In to Keep Reading