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. 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 versions

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

Year Artist Album Notes
1970Leon RussellLeon RussellFirst release. Not released as a single
1971Merry ClaytonMerry ClaytonAlso on The Best Of Merry Clayton from 2013
1971Donny HathawayDonny Hathaway
1971Lena HorneNature's Baby
1971Bill MedleyA Song for You
1971Jaye P. MorganThe 1950s chanteuse had her final Billboard chart song in 1971 with this tune ("Bubbling Under #105)
1971Helen ReddyI Don't Know How to Love Him
1971Judy StonePure Stone
1972The CarpentersA Song for YouNot released as a single
they also performed this song live on a Bob Hope TV Special that aired on October 5, 1972[11][12]
1972CherFoxy Ladyshe also performed the song on the Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour
1972Billy EckstineSenior Soul
1972Buddy GrecoIt's My Life
1972Jack JonesA Song for You
1972Peggy LeeNorma Deloris Egstrom from Jamestown, North Dakota
1972Carmen McRaeThe Great American Songbook
1972The PoliticiansThe Politicians featuring McKinley Jackson
1973Björn Skifs & Blåblus Pinewood rally
1973Vikki CarrLive at the Greek Theatre
1973Woody Herman Giant Steps
1973Morgana KingNew Beginnings
1973Don LaneDon Lane
1973Lill LindforsKom igen!
1973Willie NelsonShotgun WillieHe also performed it in the 1980 movie Honeysuckle Rose, and it appears on the movie's soundtrack.
1973Houston PersonA Song for You
1973Lou RawlsLive at the Century Plaza
1973Al WilsonShow and Tell
1974Petula ClarkRoyal Albert HallAlso on her compilation album Open Your Heart in 2009[13]
1974Aretha FranklinLet Me in Your LifeLyric altered from "10,000 people watching" to "Millions of people watching"
1974Denis KingAll In Love Is Fair
1974Mari NakamotoThree Blind Mice
1974Freda PaynePayne & Pleasure
1974Tony RonaldJuntos
1974Telly SavalasSome Broken Hearts
1974The TempreesTemprees
1974Maxine WeldonSome Singin
1975George BakerSong for You
1975Barbara CookBarbara Cook at Carnegie Hall
1975MinaLa MinaSung in Italian as "Quasi Come Musica"
1975Fausto Papetti21a Raccolta
1975The TemptationsA Song for YouNot released as a single
1975Phil WoodsImages
1976Joe CockerStingray (album)
1976Ronnie DysonThe More You Do It
1976Anna LeahReborn
1976Lou RawlsNaturally
1976Donna SummerRecorded at NBC Studios in Burbank, California
Summer often sang this as the encore during tours from 1977 to 1979,[14] and again in 1983.
1978Ron CarterA Song for You
1978Earl ColemanA Song for You
1978Betty WrightBetty Wright Live
1979Wendel AdkinsLive At Whiskey River
1979Tadao Hayashi Finger Trip II
1979Salena JonesStormy With Luv
1979SylvesterLiving Proof
1982Willy Heynen & Ingrid PolletThe Long Years
1984Anita O'DayA Song For You
1986Elton Johnhe performed this song as an intro to a medley of his own songs "Blue Eyes" & "I Guess That’s Why They Call it the Blues" on Tour
1987Nancy WilsonForbidden Lover
1990Dianne MowerA Song for You
1990Talk of NightTalk of Night
1991British Electric Foundation and Mavis StaplesMusic of Quality & Distinction Volume 2
1993Michael BallSong For You
1993Ray CharlesMy WorldHe 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.
1993Norman Connors Remember Who You Are
1993Mike GarsonThe Oxnard Sessions, Vol. 2
1993Devon SinclairSongs From The Heart
1994Damion Hall and Aaron HallStraight to the Point
1994Shirley HornI Love You, Parissung in a medley with the Gordon Jenkins song "Goodbye"
recorded on March 7, 1992 in Paris, France[15]
1994Vince JonesKate Ceberano and Friends a Kate Ceberano album
1996Diahann CarrollAt The Montreux Jazz Festival
1996Cæcilie NorbyMy Corner of the Sky
1996Dusty SpringfieldSomething Specialrecorded on November 19, 1971 for her 1972 album "See All Her Faces"[16]
1997Kimiko ItohThe Time of My Life
1998Binghamton CrosbysSuper Bos
1998Lainie KazanIn the Groove
1998Marie Carmen KoppelTAXA Kronehits
1998Gerald LevertNew York Undercover: A Night at Natalie’s
1998Sanne Salomonsen with Chris Minh DokyIn a New York Minute
1998Jimmy SpencerSong For You
1999Peabo BrysonUnconditional Love
1999Natalie ColeSnowfall on the Saharaused to dramatic effect by figure skater Michelle Kwan
1999Pilita CorralesA Song for You
1999Vincent WolfeTrust the Vibe
2000SakuraRoom 508
2001City HighCity High
2001Merv GriffinIt's Like a Dream
2001Harumi IgarashiA Song for YouJapan
2001Tchello PalmaSong for you
2001Neal SchonVoice
2001Three Mo' TenorsA Song for You
2002Eden AtwoodMy Ideal
2002Jeremy Monteiro TrioA Song For You, Karen
2002Kenny RankinSong for You
2002Andy SnitzerOver Crystal Green
2002Colm WilkinsonSome Of My Best Friends Are Songs
2002Will & RainbowSugar
2003David CassidyA Touch of Blue
2003Renée GeyerTenderland
2003Ann NesbyChurch: Songs of Soul and Inspiration
2003Randy WaldmanYou Raise Me Up
2003Lynette WashingtonLIVE! At Harlem's Kennedy Center
2004Big Daddy 'O'Deranged Covers
2004Bogdan HołowniaTales
2004Jasper SteverlinckIt Must Be Love
2005Michael BubléIt's TimeAlso on 2019 NBC TV Special Album
2005Peter Gallagher7 Days in Memphis
2005Herbie Hancock feat. Christina AguileraPossibilitiesIt 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.
2005Lady KimEverything Must Change
2005Simply RedSimplifiedReleased as part of a double A-side single in January 2006.
2006BeyoncéToursshe performed with a musical arrangement inspired by Donny Hathaway's Version during her 2006 Tokyo concert for the release of her album B’Day[17][18]
also sung on her 2008 and 2012 tours.
2006Janine Gilbert-CarterA Song For You
2006Sam HarrisAlways
2006Kind of Like SpittingThe Thrill of the Hunt
2006Michael LingtonSong for You
2006Jitka ZelenkováPod kůžíCzech
2007Nolwenn LeroyHistoires Naturelles Tour
2007Claire MartinHe Never Mentioned Love
2007Marek NapiórkowskiWhen Good Things Happen to Bad Pianos
2007B. J. ThomasLove to Burn
2007Joseph WilliamsSmiles and Tears
2007Elliott YaminElliott YaminPerformed 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.
2008Bizzy Bone feat. DMX & Chris NotezA Song for YouSamples 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.
2008Rhonda BurchmoreCry me a River
2008Lisa Yvonne FerraroLive at Fallingwater
2008GordonSong for You
2008Eriko IshiharaUnforgettable
2008Leon JacksonSong for You
2008Jessy JTequila Moon
2008Little Annie & Paul WallfischAcoustic Room 47
2008Jane McDonaldJane – UK No. 7
2008Vitamin String QuartetVSQ Performs Michael Buble
2009Ernestine AndersonA Song for You
2009Barbara BlueLIVE Volume 3
2009Whitney HoustonI Look to YouShe 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.
2009Tommy MitchellSong for You
2009Lucky PetersonOrgan Soul Sessions: The Music Is the Magic
2009Nikoletta SzőkeSong for You
2009Zakk WyldePerformed a rendition at the November 19, 2009, Gibson / Les Paul Tribute concert held at The Ryman auditorium in Nashville.
2010Neil DiamondDreams
2010AngelicaBest of Love and Ballad Songs
2010AhmirThe Covers Collection - Vol. #2
2010Steve DobrogoszSteve Dobrogosz with Anna Christoffersson
2010Ruby WilsonA Song For You
2010Kirk WhalumEverything Is Everything: The Music of Donny Hathaway
2011Amy WinehouseLioness: Hidden TreasuresReleased posthumously
2011Térez MontcalmHere's to You - Songs for Shirley Horn
2011Tomas NicholasAudible Spectrumn
2011Jim BrickmanA Song for You
2011Gino PaoliQuasi come musica (A Song for You)Italian
2011Karel GottZpívám jednu píseň dál a dál (A Song for You)Czech
2011Heather SullivanIn the Dead of Night
2011Larry Braggs"Jus' Sangin'"
2012Elkie BrooksPowerless
2012Søren Bebe TrioA Song for You
2012Jam HsiaoMr. Jazz A Song For You
2012Lalah Hathaway2012 TourDonny Hathaway's daughter
2012Jesse CampbellA Song for You
2012Katy SetterfieldA Song for You
2012Han Hee-junAmerican Idol Top 9 Season 11
2012Sussan KameronMúsica para Enamorar
2012Max Mutzke and Klaus DoldingerDurch Einander
2012Darren PercivalA Song for You
2012The Dear AbbeysProclamation
2012Hugo RaceNo But It's True
2012Peter AsplundAfterglow
2013AliasA Song for You
2013Darryl JordanA Song for YouSingle
2013EelsA Song for YouSingle
2013Richard WellingtonGive It a Chance
2013Richard Poon Legends
2013Rie fuRie fu Sings the Carpenters
2013Black Label SocietyAttributes
2013Steffen MorrisonThe Blind Auditions
2013Sorea BandA Song For You
2013Ruben HeinA Song For You
2013Coco OQuadron
2014Caroline ChevinA Song for YouSingle
2014Ranee LeeWhat's Going On
2014Chris MorganA Song For You
2014Delvin ChoiceThe Voice Performance
2014Roh Ji hoonA Song for You
2014Dee DanielsIntimate Conversations
2014Dee DanielsIntimate Conversations
2014David and DevineA Song for YouSingle
2014Damien LawsonThe Voice Performance
2014Justin Vernon of Bon IverOccasionally performed the song live, most notably during a performance on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon
2015Rob TaylorThe Voice Performance
2015Jarrod LawsonLive at The Jazz FM Awards
2015Keiko LeeLove XX
2015Tomco AVA Song For youSingle and Live
2015Telly LeungThe Voice Performance
2016Maimouna YoussefMumu Fresh
2016Isabella TavianiCarpenters Avenue
2016Dami ImClassic Carpenters
2016Boys RepublicBR: Evolution
2016Cheyenne JacksonRenaissance
2016Susan and Mike MattisonLive From The Swamp, Vol. 2:Orpheum Theatre
2017Vanessa FergusonThe Voice Performance
2017Samuel StormThe Story
2017Lea SalongaBahaghari [Rainbow]
2017Victor OladipoSongs for You EP
2017Aisha De Haas Broadway SessionsLive - Single
2018The Mark-Almond BandUnplugged (Circa 1971)
2018Greetje KauffeldA Song For You
2018Adrian ChristianA Song For You
2018Steve TyrellA Song for You
2018Nam Woo-hyunA Song for YouKorean
2018Daniel EvansThe X Factor finalists British
2018James GrahamThe Four Performance
2018Al GrominskyStagger LeeSpotify Exclusive Single
2018Dalton HarrisA Song for You
2018Adam SickThe X Factor finalists
2019Diana RouvasThe Voice Performance
2019Tony MonacoThe Definition of Insanity
2019NU'ESTA Song For YouKorean
2019Shawn SoundsThe Voice Performance
2019Kodi LeeAmerica's Got Talent (season 14)
2019H.E.R.A Love Letter to MomLive


2019Kate Ceberano and Paul GrabowskyTrystfirst 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. discogs.com A Song for You
  4. "Billboard Singles". All Media Guide / Billboard. Retrieved 2010-03-01.
  5. NewsOK.com 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. stargayzing.com, When a “Song” Becomes a “Copyright”: Leon Russell’s A Song For You, June 18, 2013
  9. whosampled.com, A Song For You
  10. Cover Versions, A Song for You by Leon Russell
  11. The Carpenters (3 February 2013). "A Song for You Live". YouTube: Beverwyk.
  12. "Bob Hope TV Special on NBC: 10/05/72". Rewatch Classic TV. Retrieved 28 September 2019.
  13. Clark, Petula. "Open Your Heart: A Love Songs Collection" (Album Notes). Collectors' Choice Music. 2009.
  14. Summer, Donna (18 January 2018). "Live: Leon Russell's A Song for You". YouTube: Cal Vid.
  15. Horn, Shirley. "I Love You, Paris". Allmusic. Retrieved 28 September 2019.
  16. Springfield, Dusty (April 1996). "A Song for You". Second Hand Songs. Retrieved 28 September 2019.
  17. Beyoncé (19 November 2006). "A Song for You Live in Tokyo". YouTube: Baby x Tink.
  18. Bongiovi, Anthony (2016). "Beyoncé 'B-Day' Live from Tokyo". Intensity Advisors.
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