I am often surprised that many are unfamiliar with Leon Russell (either that, or they adore him), given the fact that he has been one of the largest contributor to American music in the 70s and 80s. Most are very familiar with his songs as they were made famous by other recording artists. "A Song for You" for instance is an American classic probably most famous through Donny Hathaway or The Carpenters but every imaginable pop/rock musician has performed or recorded this song. More recently, the jazz pianist Herbie Hancock did a version with Christina Aguilera. "This Masquerade" is also a Leon Russell original, which most will know as a George Benson song. While Leon Russell's music is all pervasive, his own recordings of those songs are rather obscure. I have always favored his own versions of any of his songs, I find them to be more raw, more unique. They are beautiful, yet Leon Russell never tries to make them come across as pretty.Leon Russell's albums in general are eclectic. His first albums (beginning in 1970) were a fusion of rock 'n' roll, country, gospel and pop. For me they acted as a "gateway" into the world of country music.
Here is the original recording of "A Song for You":
AND, my favorite interpretation of that song other than Russell's is Willie Nelson's. I love his sparse and subtle approach to it: