The Union is a collaboration album by Elton John and Leon Russell. American singer-songwriter Leon Russell was a member of the rock aristocracy in the 1970s but since then he has vanished from the public consciousness and found himself playing on the club and bar circuit. John is a longtime admirer of Russell's music and after listening to him while on safari in Africa during the summer of 2009 he was so moved by memories of touring with him in the early '70s that he burst into tears. "Elton called to ask if I would do a duet album with him," Russell said. "I'm very happy that he chose me to do this."
This song is Leon's "thank you" to Elton and manager Johnny Barbis for rescuing him from the rock wilderness. Elton told Radio Times: "Seeing Leon laugh and joke, feel loved, remember things he'd said he couldn't, is one of the greatest achievements of my life. His wife told me he'd nearly given up, and he says it in 'In the Hands of Angels' - 'I'm trying to make it to tomorrow, like a broken-hearted love.' Cameron Crowe filmed the recording, and we were all crying. I went out, composed myself, and when I returned Leon said, 'Thank you for saving my life.'"
Russell told Rolling Stone: "I wrote it for Elton. I wanted to give him something for doing this for me: 'What can I give this guy? He has 10 of everything.' I went in and sang it, two keys too high. Then I did it again, lower. That's the take on the album."
Dt from Perdido BeachI’ve never been that big of a fan of EJ, although I must acknowledge his superb keyboard virtuosity. However I must extend my admiration for what he did for the late, great Leon Russell, another excellent keyboardist as well as a prolific writer. Leon was a big star in the rock pantheon in the early to mid 70’s, playing to sold out arenas and performing in all-star concert extravaganzas with the likes of Dylan, Clapton, Cocker and George Harrison. But styles change and by the 90’s Leon was performing to limited but appreciative audiences in small clubs where he would be peddling a new CD. I saw him a couple of times in the late 90’s in such venues, walking with a cane. At the time he may have been in his late 50’s but he looked 25 years older which is perhaps why Leon fell off the radar, he wasn’t a sex symbol and looked ancient. But I thank Sir Elton for remembering his greatest and giving LR a final chance for recognition to a wide audience and once again having his deserved prominence in the musical world.