A Song for You

"A Song for You" is a song written and originally recorded by rock singer and pianist Leon Russell for his first solo album Leon Russell, which was released in 1970 on Shelter Records. A slow, pained plea for forgiveness and understanding from an estranged lover, the tune is one of Russell's best-known compositions. It has been performed and recorded by an array of artists, spanning many musical genres. Elton John has called the song an American classic.[1]

"A Song for You"
Single by Andy Williams
from the album You've Got a Friend
B-side "You've Got a Friend"
Released August 1971
Genre Vocal
Length 3:12
Label Columbia 45434
Songwriter(s) Leon Russell
Producer(s) Dick Glasser
Andy Williams singles chronology
"(Where Do I Begin) Love Story"
"A Song for You"
"Love Is All"

One of the first versions of the song that brought it broader attention was by Andy Williams, whose single peaked at #29 on the adult contemporary chart and #82 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1971.[2] Ray Charles recorded a version that earned him the 1994 Grammy Award for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance.


Chart (2005) Peak
US Smooth Jazz 19
Chart (2008) Peak
US Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs[3] 61

Cover versions

  • Peggy Lee on her 1972 album Norma Deloris Egstrom from Jamestown, North Dakota.
  • Elkie Brooks on her 2012 album Powerless.
  • Michael BublĂ©: covered the song on his 2005 album It's Time.
  • Neil Diamond: covered the song on his 2010 album Dreams (Neil Diamond album).
  • Carpenters: not released as a single, it served as the title song for the duo's 1972 album A Song for You.
  • Ray Charles: He recorded a version of the song on his 1993 album My World. Released as a single, it reached #4 on the Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles, and won him a Grammy Award for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance. Charles also performed the song at New York's Beacon Theatre on April 9, 2003, as part of Willie Nelson's 70th birthday tribute (released on DVD as Willie Nelson and Friends: Live & Kickin'). Leon Russell sang the first verse, Willie Nelson sang the second verse, and Charles sang the remainder of the song in this unforgettable performance. Nelson, who stood nearby during Charles' performance, was moved to tears.
  • Donny Hathaway covered the song on his 1971 self-titled album Donny Hathaway.
  • Cher on her 1972 album Foxy Lady.
  • Herbie Hancock: released in 2005 with vocals by Christina Aguilera; it received airplay on U.S. smooth jazz radio and was also nominated for Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals at the 2006 Grammy Awards. The duo performed a live rendition at the ceremony that year.
  • Whitney Houston: on her 2009 album I Look to You. She also performed it in 1991 live for the troops at Welcome Home Heroes with Whitney Houston
  • Jaye P. Morgan: the 1950s chanteuse had her final Billboard chart song in 1971 with this tune ("Bubbling Under #105).
  • Willie Nelson: on his 1973 album Shotgun Willie. He also performed it in the 1980 movie Honeysuckle Rose, and it appears on the movie's soundtrack.
  • Simply Red: on the 2005 album Simplified and released as part of a double A-side single in January 2006.
  • Donna Summer: often sang this as the encore during tours from 1977 to 1979, and again in 1983. Several clips are on YouTube.
  • Temptations: also not released as a single, it served as the title song for the group's 1974 album A Song for You.
  • Zakk Wylde: Performed a rendition at the November 19, 2009, Gibson / Les Paul Tribute concert held at The Ryman auditorium in Nashville.
  • Elliott Yamin: performed the song in both his audition for American Idol and in one of his final performances. It was also named number three in Entertainment Weekly's 10 all-time best American Idol performances. The song is also on Yamin's debut album.
  • Amy Winehouse: on her posthumous compilation album Lioness: Hidden Treasures released on 2 December 2011.
  • Aretha Franklin: on her 1974 album Let Me in Your Life.
  • Natalie Cole: on her 1999 album Snowfall on the Sahara.
  • Barbara Cook: on 1975 album Barbara Cook at Carnegie Hall.
  • Earl Coleman: on 1977 album A Song for You.
  • Victor Oladipo: on his 2017 EP Songs for You
  • Justin Vernon of Bon Iver has occasionally performed the song live, most notably during a performance on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon
  • Herbie Hancock performed the song featuring singer Christina Aguilera, which lasts seven minutes and five seconds. Released in August 2005 from Hancock's 45th studio album Possibilities, Aguilera and Hancock were nominated for the 48th Grammy Awards in category "Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals".
  • Bizzy Bone performed the rendition featuring DMX and Chris Notez. It is the first official single from his album of the same name. It is sampled from Donny Hathaway's 1971 rendition. The music video includes Chris Notez playing a grand piano in front of a big manor singing his lyrics in the chorus, Bizzy Bone, DMX and sometimes Chris Notez singing in a dimly lit big room. Bizzy Bone is seen singing the song in front of a tombstone, which appears to be the gravesite of rapper Eazy-E.


  1. The Encyclopedia of Country Music, 2012: "In 1970 Russell released his self-titled debut solo album, including such enduring songs as 'Delta Lady' and 'A Song for You,' both written for versatile vocalist Rita Coolidge. He followed with Leon Russell and the Shelter People (1971) and ..."
  2. "Billboard Singles". All Media Guide / Billboard. Retrieved 2010-03-01.
  3. "Billboard Chart History". Billboard. Retrieved 2010-03-01.

External links

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