“The top hat on my head is all you see
And the wire seems to be
The only place for me
A comedy of errors
And I’m falling.” — Leon Russell from “Tightrope”
While on safari in South Africa in January of 2009, Elton John heard Leon Russell’s Retrospective and realized, “It’s not fair that people have forgotten about how wonderful this man’s music was and that makes me angry.” After the trip and a few phone calls to Grammy winning producer T. Bone Burnett, John called up Leon Russell and asked, “Would you like to do a record?” And thus the way was paved for a legendary singer/songwriter/ performer who had been lost in the consciousness of American music to return to the spotlight.
Some remember Leon Russell only for his 1972 hit, “Tightrope”. His legacy goes much deeper. The “B” side of “Tightrope” was a crossover hit by George Benson — “This Masquerade”. It’s the first (and maybe only) song to hold the number one spot on three charts simultaneously; pop, jazz, and R & B. The Lawton, OK, native has made a name for himself not only as a singer/songwriter, but a much sought after session man. He has worked with a diverse and impressive list of music icons including the Beach Boys, Eric Clapton, Joe Cocker, Bob Dylan, the Rolling Stones, Jerry Lee Lewis, and many others.
So Elton, Leon, and T. Bone got together with Bernie Taupin and James T. Shaw and wrote the fourteen songs on The Union. The songs have a variety of authors from one such as “If It Wasn’t For Bad You’d Be Good” by Leon Russell to “There’s No Tomorrow” written by a collection of four (John, Russell, Shaw, and Burnett).