by Cat Johnson
The other day we threw the latest Bruce Springsteen album, entitled Wrecking Ball, on the stereo and a conversation ensued about who it was playing the saxophone. A look at the liner notes revealed that the sax work on two tracks was the last recorded work of the late, great Clarence Clemons who passed away in 2011. It also revealed something that made me tear up a bit, and if there’s something I try really hard not to do, it’s tearing up at Streetlight. Especially over liner notes. But every once in a while something comes around that reminds me that we are more than this life. We are more than our work, and our stuff, and our drama; that there is a connectedness between us that transcends earthly chatter and exists on another plane. The last page of the notes has a tribute to Clarence from Bruce. It is touching and sweet and if you’re not in a place that you feel comfortable tearing up, you might want to save this for later. Here it is:
“…standing together we were badass, on any given night, on our turf, some of the baddest on the planet. We were united, we were strong, we were righteous, we were unmovable, we were funny, we were corny as hell and serious as death itself. And we were coming to your town to shake you and to wake you up. Together, we told an older, richer story about the possibilities of friendship that transcended those I’d written about in my songs and in my music. Clarence carried it in his heart. It was a story where the Scooter and the Big Man not only busted the city in half, but we kicked ass and remade the city, shaping it into the kind of place where our friendship would not be such an anomaly.
…I’ll miss my friend, his sax and the force of nature that was his sound. But his love and his story–the story that he gave to me, that he whispered in my ear, and that he gave to you–is going to carry on.
Clarence was big and he made me feel, think, love and dream big. How big was the Big Man? Too fucking big to die. You can put it on his gravestone, you can tattoo it over your heart.
Clarence doesn’t leave the E Street Band when he dies. He leaves when we die.”
Last night, E Street Band saxophonist Clarence Clemons suffered a stroke. Initially, there was no word on his condition; only that it was serious. This morning an update was posted on Backstreets.com.
“The latest out of Florida has Clarence Clemons in better condition than anyone expected, a close friend tells Backstreets: ‘Yesterday, it did not look good at all. Today… miracles are happening. His vital signs are improving. He’s responsive. His eyes are welling up when we’re talking to him. He was paralyzed on his left side, but now he’s squeezing with his left hand. This is the best news we’ve heard since [the stroke] happened — it’s nothing short of miraculous. The next five days will still be critical. But he’s a fighter.’”
UPDATE: Sad to report that Clarence passed away today (6/18/2011).