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There is Only One Leon Russell

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Leon Russell released some of the great songs of the early 1970s, including A Song for You, which is considered a classic. He then seemed to largely walk away from the spotlight. Russell reemerged in 2010, noticeably older, when he and Elton John — who called Russell an early inspiration — released an album entitled The Union. Here is If it Wasn’t for Bad, one of the cuts from the album.

Earlier work from Russell include Stranger in a Strange Land and a classic cover of Dylan’s A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall. The talent is clear in this very early version of Roll Over Beethoven.

The version of Crystal Closet Queen/Of Thee I Sing with The Shelter People above is great as both music and a time capsule. The notes say the footage is from a PBS special and that Crystal Closet Queen it is about Little Richard, but I am not sure of that.

(Homepage photo: Carl Lender)

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--A Tribe Called Quest to The Dick Hyman Trio (In other words, A to H)

--Indigo Girls to Queen Ida (I to Q)

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Reading Music

The stories of the great bands and musicians are fascinating. Musicians as a group are brilliant, but often troubled. The combination of creativity and drama makes for great reading.

Here are some books to check out.

Duke Ellington brought class, sophistication and style to jazz which, until that point, was proudly unpolished and raucous. His story is profound. The author, Terry Teachout, also wrote "Pops," the acclaimed bio of Louis Armstrong. Click here or on the image.


What else is there to say? Here is the story behind every song written by The Beatles. Click here or on the image.


The Grateful Dead don't get enough credit for the profound nature of its lyrics. Many of the band's songs are driven by a deep and literate Americana ("I'm Uncle Sam/That's who I am/Been hidin' out/In a rock and roll band" and "Majordomo Billy Bojangles/Sit down and have a drink with me/What's this about Alabama/Keeps comin' back to me?").

David Dodd's exhaustive study tells the story, song by song. Click here or on the image.

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