“Leon interests me, I’ve heard he’s anywhere from 25 to 60, I’ve been a foot and a half from him and I can’t tell, but you gotta see him. He does old Jimmie Rodgers, then turns around and does a Robert Johnson,” said Bob Dylan.
As a weird kid who was partially raised by a grandmother who grew up during the depression and developed a love of Tin Pan Alley music from that, Leon Redbone always meant a lot to me.
I remember being a kid and driving through some town in western Pennsylvania and my mom saw a marquee that said he’d be playing at a theater and she said she liked him. I set out to find some records from him, and it blew my mind that someone who sounded like that was still alive and playing music.
He doesn’t have a real biography, he was just some weirdo who somehow got kind of famous playing antiquated music straight. Not like Tiny Tim, who genuinely loved the music he played, but still camped it up in order to make it palatable, I always admired that.
RIP, you weirdo, I wish I had seen that show you played.