So about 12 hours after hearing the news, I can finally start to articulate the profound sense of loss I feel at the passing of Clarence “Big Man” Clemons. As anyone who knows me can tell you, from the time I was about 13, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band are my all-time, one true love, musically. And Bruce was the man I’d one day insisted “I” was going to marry, just like countless other Jersey Girls.
Part of why I loved Bruce was the magic he created with music and lyrics. And the one thing that really made it such a unique and compelling sound was the Big Man’s sax. How many hours I would sit and listen to Born to Run or Darkness on the Edge of Town and just wait for the sax solos. They transported you into the world of Bruce’s lyrics like nothing else ever could or ever will. And the love and affection Bruce and Clarence shared for each other was so obvious. I always had a big smile on my face watching them interact. You couldn’t help it, they complimented each other with a deep friendship that not all of us are lucky to experience for ourselves in our lifetimes.
I’ve seen Bruce and Co. (even during the time when he had broken up the E Street Band) countless times – at least once, often times more, on every tour. And what always had me mesmerized, no matter how close or how far I sat from the stage, was the way Bruce and Clarence played off each other, fed off each other. And don’t forget Miami Steve (I don’t care what he does, he’ll ALWAYS be Miami Steve to me). Those three created an incredible musical magic, that when they unleashed it onstage, everyone was caught in the spell. It always amazed me how quiet and enthralled everyone in a 70,000+ filled arena would get when the Big Man took the spotlight.There is no high like a Bruce Springsteen concert – but it was the Big Man who pulled it altogether and gave it such power, an ability to grab your soul and never let it go.
I don’t even think I can accurately describe the emotions it draws from you when you listen to him play. Maybe because, though I’m starting to accept that his death is a reality, I haven’t begun to fully register the loss, consider all of the implications and the little things that will be affected, the stuff you don’t even recognize at first. As many people know, on Friday nights, I get a little silly while playing music, and I tweet Bruce’s lyrics. A lot! One entire playlist on my ipod is exclusively Bruce and it’s got all several hundreds of songs. And listening the other night, DH and I discussed Clarence’s stroke, and the implications, and as the songs played, each one having some special meaning, we took even more note of the sax, and it was sad to think of that being silenced. Of course, we insisted that could never happen. But it did.
RIP Big Man. You will be missed more than anyone can put into words. The only consolation I take in this is that when I finally cross over, the music to greet me will be incredible!