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"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. Russell not only sings and plays piano on the recording, but also plays the tenor horn that is accompanying.[1] It has been performed and recorded by over 200 artists, spanning many musical genres. Elton John has called the song an American classic.[2][3]

"A Song for You"
Song by Leon Russell
from the album Leon Russell
ReleasedMay 1970
FormatVinyl, LP, Album
LabelShelter Records(US)
A&M Records(UK)
Songwriter(s)Leon Russell
Producer(s)Leon Russell
"A Song for You"
Single by Andy Williams
from the album You've Got a Friend
B-side"You've Got a Friend"
ReleasedAugust 1971
LabelColumbia 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.[4] Ray Charles recorded a version that earned him the 1994 Grammy Award for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance.

On January 17, 2018, "A Song For You" was added to Grammy Hall of Fame.[5][6]



Chart (2005) Peak
US Smooth Jazz 19
Chart (2008) Peak
US Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs[7] 61

Cover versionsEdit

A Song for You covered from 1970 to 2019:[8][9][10]

Year Artist Album Notes
1970 Leon Russell Leon Russell First release. Not released as a single
1971 Donny Hathaway Donny Hathaway
1971 Judy Stone Pure Stone
1971 Judy Stone Pure Stone
1971 Lena Horne Nature's Baby
1971 Merry Clayton Merry Clayton Also on The Best Of Merry Clayton form 2013
1971 Jaye P. Morgan The 1950s chanteuse had her final Billboard chart song in 1971 with this tune ("Bubbling Under #105)
1971 Bill Medley A Song for You
1972 Billy Eckstine Senior Soul
1972 Buddy Greco It's My Life
1972 Cher Foxy Lady
1972 The Carpenters A Song for You Not released as a single
1972 Peggy Lee Norma Deloris Egstrom from Jamestown, North Dakota
1972 Carmen McRae The Great American Songbook
1972 Jack Jones A Song for You
1973 Willie Nelson Shotgun Willie He also performed it in the 1980 movie Honeysuckle Rose, and it appears on the movie's soundtrack.
1973 Morgana King New Beginnings
1973 Lou Rawls Live at the Century Plaza
1973 Don Lane Don Lane
1973 Björn Skifs Pinewood rally
1973 Vikki Carr Live at the Greek Theatre
1973 Woody Herman Giant Steps
1973 Al Wilson Show and Tell
1974 Aretha Franklin Let Me in Your Life
1974 Telly Savalas Some Broken Hearts
1974 Freda Payne Payne & Pleasure
1974 The Temprees Temprees
1974 Maxine Weldon Some Singin
1974 Mari Nakamoto Three Blind Mice
1974 The Temptations A Song for You Not released as a single
1974 Petula Clark Royal Albert Hall Also on her compilation album Open Your Heart in 2019
1974 Tony Ronald Juntos
1975 Barbara Cook Barbara Cook at Carnegie Hall
1976 Joe Cocker Stingray (album)
1976 Ronnie Dyson The More You Do It
1976 Anna Leah Reborn
1977 Donna Summer Summer often sang this as the encore during tours from 1977 to 1979, and again in 1983.
1977 Earl Coleman A Song for You
1977 Mavis Staples Music of Quality and Distinction, Volume 2
1978 Betty Wright Betty Wright Live
1979 Salena Jones Stormy With Luv
1979 Wendel Adkins Live At Whiskey River
1979 Sylvester Living Proof
1982 Willy Heynen & Ingrid Pollet The Long Years
1984 Anita O'Day A Song For You
1990 Talk of Night Talk of Night
1991 Nancy Wilson Forbidden Lover
1993 Ray Charles My World 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.
1993 Michael Ball Song For You
1993 Devon Sinclair Songs From The Heart
1993 Norman Connors Remember Who You Are
1994 Shirley Horn I Love You, Paris
1994 Vince Jones Kate Ceberano and Friends a Kate Ceberano album
1994 Damian Hall Straight to the Point
1996 Leon Russell Leon Russell First release. Not released as a single
1996 Cæcilie Norby My Corner of the Sky
1996 Diahann Carroll At The Montreux Jazz Festival
1997 Kimiko Itoh The Time of My Life
1998 Gerald Levert New York Undercover: A Night at Natalie’s
1998 Marie Carmen Koppel TAXA Kronehits
1998 Jimmy Spencer Song For You
1998 Binghamton Crosbys Super Bos
1998 Sanne Salomonsen with Chris Minh Doky In a New York Minute
1998 Lainie Kazan In the Groove
1999 Natalie Cole Snowfall on the Sahara
1999 Peabo Bryson Unconditional Love
1999 Dusty Springfield Something Special
1999 City High City High
1999 Vincent Wolfe Trust the Vibe
2001 Merv Griffin It's Like a Dream
2001 Tchello Palma|style="white-space:nowrap"|Song for you
2002 Eden Atwood My Ideal
2002 Colm Wilkinson Some Of My Best Friends Are Songs
2002 Kenny Rankin Song for You
2002 Jeremy Monteiro Trio ‎ A Song For You, Karen
2003 Ann Nesby Church: Songs of Soul and Inspiration
2003 Ann Nesby Tenderland
2005 Herbie Hancock feat. Christina Aguilera Possibilities 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.
2005 Michael Bublé It's Time
2005 Simply Red Simplified Released as part of a double A-side single in January 2006.
2006 Michael Lington Song for You
2007 B. J. Thomas Love to Burn
2007 Elliott Yamin 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.
2008 Bizzy Bone feat. DMX & Chris Notez A Song for You Samples 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.
2008 Beyonce Knowles Tours Beyonce performed Song For You on her 2006, 2008 and 2012 tours.
2009 Whitney Houston I Look to You She performed it in 1991 live for the troops at the Welcome Home Heroes with Whitney Houston concert and then later recorded a studio version for her 2009 album.
2009 Zakk Wylde Performed a rendition at the November 19, 2009, Gibson / Les Paul Tribute concert held at The Ryman auditorium in Nashville.
2009 Ernestine Anderson A Song for You
2010 Neil Diamond Dreams
2010 Kirk Whalum Everything Is Everything: The Music of Donny Hathaway
2011 Amy Winehouse Lioness: Hidden Treasures Released posthumously
2012 Elkie Brooks Powerless
2014 Justin Vernon of Bon Iver Occasionally performed the song live, most notably during a performance on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon
2017 Victor Oladipo Songs for You EP
2018 The Mark-Almond Band Unplugged (Circa 1971)
2019 Kate Ceberano and Paul Grabowsky Tryst first single from the album


  1. ^ "Leon Russell - Best Of Leon (Vinyl, LP, Compilation) | Discogs". Discogs. February 25, 2019. Retrieved February 25, 2019.
  2. ^ 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 ..."
  3. ^ A Song for You
  4. ^ "Billboard Singles". All Media Guide / Billboard. Retrieved 2010-03-01.
  5. ^ Leon Russell's 'A Song For You' added to Grammy Hall Of Fame, by Nathan Poppe, January 17, 2018
  6. ^ Tulsa World News, Leon Russell song selected for Grammy Hall of Fame, By Jimmie Tramel, Jan. 18, 2018
  7. ^ "Billboard Chart History". Billboard. Retrieved 2010-03-01.
  8. ^, When a “Song” Becomes a “Copyright”: Leon Russell’s A Song For You, June 18, 2013
  9. ^, A Song For You
  10. ^ Cover Versions, A Song for You by Leon Russell

External linksEdit