Sometimes it feels like Leon Russell has been lost to history since even before the '70s ended, dwelling forever there with his makeup and top hat and hair as one of the clownish features of the times, with maybe Leo Sayer, Minnie Riperton, and Carl Douglas. But I have never been able to get a handful of his songs out of my head, most of them circa 1972 and the album Carney—"Magic Mirror," "Tight Rope," a few others, but more than any this woeful hymn to a love affair ruined forever by heroin and death. At the time I was hearing it on the radio (how it got there I don't know) it never failed to leap out and get me by the throat, though I had no concrete connection with any of its themes or scenarios. I just had some idea how it felt, and the feelings were overwhelming, love arrived and gone forever. The croak of Russell's voice, now and then missing its intended notes, the softly marching tempo at the chorus, and the signature rich tones of his piano playing throughout serve him well. It uses the drug lifestyle just right—though no doubt the reason it never made the hit parade—never glorifying but never judging or condemning or blaming either, and hardly shrinking from it. Just a brief memory of "the needle in her vein" to etch the image in. I'm not sure exactly how Leon Russell does what he does—sometimes I'm not even sure what it is he's doing exactly—but "Me and Baby Jane" may be the best single example of him doing it: swooningly sad, ripe to the point of bursting, dramatized within an inch of its life, yet somehow softly understated, always tender, and above all completely beautiful.