Folk Thursday: Leon Russell

There has never been anything even remotely folk about Leon Russell, but after spending nine years in Oklahoma, I came to appreciate him every bit as much as I do my beloved folkies, and I was so lost in my tears — for him, for Leonard Cohen, for an election that went horribly, horribly wrong — that I completely failed to acknowledge his passing and honor him and his work here.

The first time I saw Leon Russell in concert, I was slogging my way through the second draft of my novel, trying to whip several hundred blog posts into something resembling a cohesive narrative, feeling certain something was missing but completely baffled as to what that something might be.

On a gentle April evening in 2012, he walked onto the stage at the Brady Theater, that long, white hair and beard making him look for all the world like some kind of shaman who’d wandered in from another era, and two thoughts floated through my mind.

The first:

I want to photograph him.

The second:

This novel needs a lot more mysticism.

I never got to photograph Leon Russell. But my first impression of him is etched indelibly on my mind, and its echoes influenced the entire direction of my book, and maybe that’s better than a picture.

Maybe tonight, the Master of Space and Time is having Irish coffee with the bean sidhe in the warmth of a kitchen in a high-desert town that never existed but always will.

As the fanfic writers would say: Headcanon accepted.

Emily

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