Friday, June 24, 2011

Fast Five Friday: Teardrops On The City Edition

The music world suffered a great loss last week. Clarence Clemons, the sax player for Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band, passed away at the age of 69.

The Boss and The Big Man, a musical combination like no other. It's hard to explain how much I love the E Street Band. Born in the USA was the first gift I ever bought for my dad with my own money. He wasn't a huge fan, but I'd heard him say he liked Springsteen, so I was excited that we might finally have some music in common. I remember driving around Green Bay late at night with my friend Mike, driving our own Backstreets, listening to Springsteen on his boom box. I finally got to see Bruce and Clarence on their last tour. I've seen a lot of great shows in my time, but let me tell ya, the old guys put on the best show I've ever seen. I play a lot of Springsteen for my girls. It's important to me that they know the music. They may never love it like their old man does, but I want them to know it and appreciate it.

Clarence was a huge part of the E Street sound, the underlying pulse of the music, his solos turning good songs into great ones and great songs into classics. I've been listening to a lot of E Street this week, and here are the five songs where Clarence was at his very best. 

5) Secret Garden:  This song was featured in Jerry Maguire, one of my favorite movies. It's a mellow song, and Clarence brings it home in style.

4) Thunder Road: This is classic E Street. Clarence takes center stage around the 4 minute mark.

3) Bobby Jean: This is one of my favorite songs on Born in the USA. The Big Man's solo near the end perfectly captures the melancholy of this song.

2) Born to Run: Probably the most beloved Springsteen song, and with good reason. I love this video. The crowd in Barcelona is so passionate. That's what I remember about the show I saw, the passion of the crowd, people singing the whole time.

1) Jungleland: This may be the best sax solo in rock n' roll history. It's a long song, with Clarence coming in around the 4 minute mark. The solo itself is quite long, about 3 minutes, and it gets me every time.

If you're an E Street fan, feel free to share some other favorites in the comments. RIP Big Man.


  1. I like the shot of Clarence's white shoes down in Jungleland.

  2. I never got to see them in concert. Kind of regret that. You're right, Clarence was a big part of the "sound" of the band. Don't know how they'll fill his shoes. Or if they'll even try. Sad news.

  3. Munk: They are things of beauty

    LG: I guess Clarence wanted to do another tour this year, so I wonder what the rest of the guys will decide to do.

  4. Some good choices here.

    "the old guys put on the best show I've ever seen"


    "remember driving around Green Bay late at night with my friend Mike, driving our own Backstreets, listening to Springsteen on his boom box. "

    Now that's true fandom! Great memory.

  5. I have never made it to one of Springsteen's concerts but love his music. It is a sad passing of such a talent. I have seen videos of Clarence. Who wouldn't love the sound of a saxaphone?

  6. I listened to so much music that wasn't mainstream, but I loved Springsteen. That was another thing that drew us together. I remember the drives, the boombox(I wish I had money for a stereo in the car)and I vaguely remember being on my knees...singing a Springsteen song on Zern's kitchen you and Wendy (?) I was a bit dramatic at times. The E Street Band just lost a lot of soul. And I'm glad you had Jungleland at number one. That was the one I picked too.

  7. I've been a Springsteen fan for pretty much my whole life, my older siblings loved him and I loved listening to their Springsteen records when I was little. The Born in the USA tour was the first big concert I ever went to, I still have the t-shirt!

    I saw Bruce in concert a few years ago, I'm glad now I got to see Clarence on what turned out to be his last tour.

    Love your choices, I've never been able to pick a favorite Bruce song, but if I had to it would probably be Born to Run.

  8. Tim- I remember the first time I heard Springsteen. I was about 12 or 13, and in a sewing class, no less. (One of my sewing mates brought the album in to shock the grey-haired instructor.)
    I'd add to that teardrops list the song referenced in your title, what most makes me think of Clemens: Tenth Avenue Freeze Out. I remember being blown away by the lyrics and the sax. It was an awakening for a young girl.
    My husband being from Bergen County, NJ, we listen to a lot of Springsteen around here.
    Great tribute to the Big Man, Master of the Universe.