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June 21, 2011

The Best of the Big Man

Filed under: Music — Steve Krupa @ 5:04 pm
When the change 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…” 

There is little doubt that Clarence Clemons made Bruce Sprinsteen’s music better.  Clemons’ sax funneled Springsteen’s exuberance, creating a unique rock and roll big band sound that was often imitated, particularly by bar bands up and down the Jersey shore, but never replicated.   

Clarence stands equal with the other of my favorite rock and roll saxophonists, the Texan, Bobby Keys, who defined himself on the great Rolling Stones albums of the late 60’s and early 70’s (recall the sax solo in Brown Sugar – that’s Bobby).  Clarence and Bobby growled through their instruments, preferring minimalist melodies focused on tone and emotion to the wild flourishes favored by their jazz counterparts.  For rock and roll and the blues, this sound worked.  It made the songs memorable, rhythmic and big.
My wife and I listened to Bruce Springsteen’s Live Box set on the way back to the city on Father’s Day Sunday night after we learned Clarence had passed.  I really don’t know how the E Street Band can continue without him.  His place on stage next to Bruce will seem so empty.  Clarence was both a player and a showman, akin to his Boss.
In remembrance I offer you my 5 favorite Clarence Clemons tracks, all defining moments in the Springsteen catalog.  You can probably dig them up for a listen on or download them from iTunes, if you don’t have them already.  They are well worth the $0.99.  Enjoy.
5.  Born to Run (on the album Born to Run)
4.  Rosalita (on the album The Wild, The Innocent and the E Street Shuffle)    
3.  Spirit in the Night (on the album Greetings from Asbury Park New Jersey)
2.  Jungleland (on the album Born to Run)
1.  Drive All Night (on the album The River – Disc 2)

1 Comment »

  1. Makes me sad I never saw this great perform live. Hope you and Danielle are well

    Comment by Michael O'Hanlon — June 21, 2011 @ 8:47 pm | Reply

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