You never want to think of days like this, when people who influenced your life (even if you never knew them, let alone, met them) have passed on. Today is one of those days as we found out late last night the passing of Clarence Clemons. "The King of the World, Master of the Universe, Do I have to speak his name? Clarence 'The Big Man' Clemons!"
I didn't experience the wonder, the majesty, the fist pumpin' experience of a Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band show until Alpine Valley, Wisconsin 1984. While that is now 25 years further on down the road, I've always felt a little late to the Springsteen party. I'm so glad I got to the party and it's been a continuous party of memories ever since as I have seen Springsteen (a modest count relatively speaking to some Springsteen fanatics) 20+ times since that affirming show in 1984.
It's one thing that Springsteen himself is one of the more dynamic performers of any era, the fact that Clarence was his main foil, his rock n roll partner, and one of the best rock sidemen of all time, just added to the experience. To sit behind the stage and see the joy and exuberance of total strangers after Clarence plays the solo to "The Promised Land" are memories I will never forget. To see an entire section of an arena erupt as he kicks into solo of "Badlands" is something that has to be experienced, and sadly, experienced no more. He was just cool. I mean, *cool*. Look at this picture. It's cool. Period.
It's giving a total stranger at a Springsteen show a knowing look after the "Prove it All Night" solo that you both saw the *same* thing and have this same bond. It's Clarence going to one wing of the stage and Bruce going to the other wing as we pulled outta here to win during sax solo and coda of "Thunder Road" and meeting in the center in a joyous celebration with 20,000 of your friends are things I will never forget. I can't tell you how many times I just opened the gatefold of the "Born to Run" record and just stared at it. How many times did I go to a Springsteen show and see Clarence's saxophone's on the stage before the show and just countdown the moments til the house lights went down and we'd hear Clemon's first solo. On the "Tracks" tour of 1999, it was the song I have on now, "The Ties That Bind" from 1980's "The River". I saw the 1992 Human Touch/Lucky Town tour, just one show, with Springsteen and some other musicians not the E Street Band. This band, while good, was not the E Street Band. Imagine the aforementioned "Badlands" with no sax solo. Yeah, you get the idea. The show was just a shadow of itself. The main ingredient missing, the X factor missing: Clarence.
Rediscover Records may not exist as we know it without the impact of a Bruce Springsteen concert. That's the power and the passion of rock n roll. That's the impact of a Springsteen show and it's influence of wide smiles, tears of joy, and wonderful memories. R.I.P. Big Man. Your work is done here, you're in a better place, and you made our world a better place.
"If I could take one moment into my hands"