Clarence Clemons died tonight and I’m genuinely sad and heartbroken. Of course, I am sad for him, his family, friends and yes, even Bruce. However, his death also brings to a close a part of my life that was exceedingly joyous and even life-changing for almost three decades.
I have to admit, I was not a Bruce Springsteen fan in high school as were most of my friends. I remember going to our girl’s basketball games and Bruce blared from the speakers as the girl’s warmed up. They were on to him early to their credit. I was fairly indifferent.
Then one night a couple of years after high school, I was heading to the famous Stone Pony in Asbury Park with some friends. On the way there, my girlfriend’s date was playing Bruce on the cassette player. It was “The Wild, The Innocent, and the E Street Shuffle“. The song “Incident on 57th Street” completely captivated me. We listened to that tape all the way home and I was hooked. I went out the next day, bought the tape and proceeded to wear it out. Bruce’s words were pure poetry and the more I listened the more the music moved me. I don’t know why it all came together for me that one night, but it has been a raging love affair ever since.
For those of us who love Bruce and the E Street Band, there is an unspoken bond. When you meet someone who loves his music as well, you know a little something about them which automatically connects you. We all become a family when Bruce performs. We buy the tickets and then tailgate our asses off, sometimes for 2 or more shows during a tour. Back in the day, Bruce’s shows were legendary for their length, which were over 4 hours long for many years. I would leave the concerts drenched, hoarse, and exhausted and yet entirely filled with a very real and calming joy. The music and the energy was frenetic and soul-shaking. Then there was the Big Man.
There are wonderful writers out there who will do great justice to Clarence Clemons and his musical legacy. My take on the man and his saxophone is about as basic as it gets. There are few sounds that move me like the ones produced by both he and that band. The transcendent wailing of the sax in the song ” Jungleland” still…still… gives me chills and I’ve heard it hundreds and hundreds…maybe even thousands of times. There is no song closer to perfection in my book than this, and it doesn’t hit perfection without Clarence Clemons. The Big Man will be more than missed. His death brings to a close a lifetime of sweet, wonderful memories for me. Bruce is still Bruce, and he will find a way to move on, but every one of us knows that it will never be the same again without Clarence. Thanks man. Just thanks.
Tear drops on the city
Bad Scooter searching for his groove
Seem like the whole world walking pretty
And you can’t find the room to move
Well everybody better move over, that’s all
‘Cause I’m running on the bad side
And I got my back to the wall
Tenth Avenue freeze-out, Tenth Avenue freeze-out
Well I was stranded in the jungle
Trying to take in all the heat they was giving
The night is dark but the sidewalk’s bright
And lined with the light of the living
From a tenement window a transistor blasts
Turn around the corner things got real quite real fast
I walked into a Tenth Avenue freeze-out
Tenth Avenue freeze-out
And I’m all alone, I’m all alone
And kid you better get the picture
And I’m on my own, I’m on my own
And I can’t go home
When the changes was made uptown
And the Big Man joined the band
From the coastline to the city
All the little pretties raise their hands
I’m gonna sit back right easy and laugh
When Scooter and the Big Man bust this city in half
With the Tenth Avenue freeze-out, Tenth Avenue freeze-out
Tenth Avenue freeze-out…