"A Song for You" is a song written and originally recorded by rocksinger-songwriter 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.
Dusty Springfield recorded the song for possible inclusion on See All Her Faces but her unfinished recording remained shelved for almost 15 years until first issued on the Mercury two-CD compilation Something Special, April 1, 1996. Producers: Johnny Franz and Dusty Springfield.
Ray Charles: He recorded a poignant 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.
Whitney Houston: performed for the troops and their families returning from the Gulf War on March 31, 1991. The performance can be seen on Welcome Home Heroes with Whitney Houston (1991). She recorded the song for her 2009 album, I Look to You. In 2014, a compilation album of live performances of the singer was released, including the 1991 performance.
Simply Red: on the 2005 album Simplified and released as part of a double A-side single in January 2006.
Tony Lewis: recorded the song as the opener of his 2001 CD Naked.
Kate Ceberano: performed as part of her concerts with the Adelaide and Western Australian Symphony Orchestras, appearing on the 2006 CD and DVD release Kate Ceberano Live with the WASO.
Contemporary jazz saxophonist Michael Lington released an album entitled A Song for You that featured a cover of this song.
Jakob Sveistrup: this Danish performer's self-titled debut album included a cover version of the song.
Gavin DeGraw: did a performance of the song for StrippedMusic.com.
Jamie Oldaker: on the 2005 album Jamie Oldaker's Mad Dogs & Okies, featuring Joe & Ellen.
Stacy Francis sang the song during the bootcamp stage of The X Factor USA. The audition was not aired entirely. Instead, the verse "'Cause my love is in there hiding" was shown. The judges said that it was an over-the-top performance. She still got through.
The music video for "A Song for You" included Bizzy Bone, DMX and Chris Notez; 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 with Bizzy Bone wearing a bright red jacket and DMX wearing a copper brown jacket. Lastly Bizzy Bone is often seen in a suit singing the song in front of a tombstone, which appears to be the gravesite of rapper Eazy-E.
^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 ..."