Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Circuses and Carnivals: Tight Rope

Leon Russell: Tight Rope


I'm up on the tightwire,
Flanked by life and the funeral pyre,
Putting on a show for you to see.

Leon Russell is best known as a session player, where his distinctive keyboards (mainly) and guitar back up too many rock, bluegrass, country, blues, and pop musicians to even begin to list. He wrote early hits for diverse folks like the Carpenters (A Song For You), George Benson (This Masquerade), Joe Cocker (Delta Lady)…and himself – this song was his first hit in 1972. Russell was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame last March.

Allmusic calls his style "swamp fusion," punched up by his Oklahoma-tinged vocals and bayou-laced lyrics. I'd certainly never heard music like this when I left suburbia for Ann Arbor. This album, Carney, became the most-played of my first freshman term, and I even got my roommate, a classical music kind of girl, hooked too. Goes to show that sometimes all we need to fall in love with new music is enough exposure.

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