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Stranger in a Strange Land

Leon Russell
Leon Russell

He was a Stranger in a Strange Land.

 

How many days has it been
Since I was born
How many days until I die
-Leon Russell

Apr 02, 1942 – Nov 13, 2016 (age 74)

Watch Leon perform “Stranger in a Strange Land.” 

 

If the date calculator I used is correct, Leon Russell lived 27,254.  That’s a lot of days.

 

27, 254 days

How many days since I was born?  How many days until I die?

I always liked the music of Leon Russell, especially after seeing him live.

In about 1980, Leon, his wife Mary, and band traveled with Willie Nelson. I’ve always tried to attend a Willie Nelson concert when possible. That night we got a double shot.  Leon Russell sang with a growl, beat on his keys, and his wife showed her Gospel roots.

Willie, as always, put on a fine show.

Then Leon joined Willie on stage and they sang and played until late in the night.

They sang various styles and looked like they were having a good time.

And when a musician/band looks like they’re having fun, the audience will too.

It was a night to remember.

All of this came back to me with Leon’s death on Sunday.

screen-shot-2016-11-14-at-4-07-09-pm

I went through my Leon playlist and was reminded of why I loved his music.  If you have Spotify or Pandora, take a listen.

You won’t get the full effect until you listen to one of his live albums.  On one live song, he promises the audience,  “If you put on a show for me, I’ll put on a show for you.”

Fair deal if you ask me.

I always wondered about Leon’s faith.  He loved singing Gospel and lots of his songs had those faith-themes that most Southern writers/songwriters have. (He was born in Oklahoma).

Here’s an example:

And the baby looks around him
And shares his bed of hay
With the burro in the palace of the king

He’s a stranger in a strange land

 

My favorite song of his was “A Stranger in a Strange Land.”   I often played it during my African sojourn. The song (full lyrics are below) spoke to my heart.

I truly felt like a stranger in a strange land.

My current novel,  As the Crow Flies, has a chapter entitled, “Stranger in a Strange Land.”  You can read it here. Scroll down to chapter 4.

Watch Leon perform “Stranger in a Strange Land.” 

Rest in peace, Leon.

Leon Russell in the 1970's
Leon Russell in the 1970’s

 

 

 

Complete lyrics to Stranger in a Strange Land

 

Stranger in a Strange Land

Leon Russell

How many days has it been
Since I was born
How many days until I die
Do I know any ways
That I can make you laugh
Or do I only know how to make you cry

When the baby looks around him
It’s such a sight to see
He shares a simple secret
With the wise man

He’s a stranger in a strange land
Just a stranger in a strange land
Tell me why
He’s a stranger in a strange land
Just a stranger in a strange land

How many miles will it take
To see the sun
And how many years until it’s done
Kiss my confusion away in the night
Lay by side when the morning comes

And the baby looks around him
And shares his bed of hay
With the burro in the palace of the king

He’s a stranger in a strange land
Tell me why
He’s a stranger in a strange land
Just a stranger in a strange land

Well, I don’t exactly know
What’s going on in the world today
Don’t know what there is to say
About the way the people are treating
Each other, not like brothers

Leaders take us far away from ecology
With mythology and astrology
Has got some words to say
About the way we live today
Why can’t we learn to love each other
It’s time to turn a new face
To the whole world wide human race

Stop the money chase
Lay back, relax
Get back on the human track
Stop racing toward oblivion
Oh, such a sad, sad state we’re in
And that’s a thing

Do you recognize the bells of truth
When you hear them ring
Won’t you stop and listen
To the children sing
Won’t you come on and sing it children

He’s a stranger in a strange land
Just a stranger in a strange land

Songwriters: DON J. PRESTON, LEON RUSSELL

© Universal Music Publishing Group

For non-commercial use only.

Data from: LyricFind

 

 

Of Thee I Sing

Hung up in a Pennsylvania mining town
Got down to Boston in time for tea
Don’t know exactly just what’s going down
Better hang around until I see.

She uses beauty like a knife
She cuts me even more, she changes
Right before my eyes into something ugly and sore.

Beauty like a knife
She cuts me even more, she changes
Right before my eyes into something strange and more.

Don’t bomb the inn, I’m on a holiday
But Oklahoma’s just a jet away
And the blood is on the books in Ohio
So badly stained, what can I say?

 

About Curt Iles

I write to have influence and impact through well-told stories of my Louisiana and African sojourn.

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