Sunday, June 19, 2011

RIP Clarence Clemons

Few times I have cried over the death of a stranger, but yesterday was one of them. RIP Clarence Clemons, The Big Man. That rock'n'roll band in heaven is going to be swinging today.

I can't recall the first Springsteen song I ever heard. The Boss came online during my turbulent high school years. The one thing I'll tell you is what stood out aside from the sheer man-from-the-street poetry of his music was the wailing saxophone.

Hold the phone--then I saw the E-Street Band on one of the rock shows and I realized that sax was played by a Black man. Pretty cool, considering the fact that even New Orleans jazz groups didn't like "cream in their coffee" and vice versa. This was the kind of music I wanted to hear because being a "Star Trek Idealist" this was the kind of future I wanted to see.

For me, the "Born to Run" album sealed the deal. That music spoke to where I was at the time. If I could have driven, I'd have been a long haul driver or some other gypsy occupation.

Was trying for years to see The Boss and his Band. Almost made it in Austin. Was buying tickets when I heard that the concert was postponed because Clarence had a detached retina.

Shit, I knew all about eye surgery and I was praying for his to be successful. My first detachment was 1969 and that surgery resulted in blindness in my right eye. In 1979, I had my second detachment after a protracted retinal bleed. Luckily, I managed to keep my vision in my left eye.

Finally, Tony and I were able to see The Boss in Atlanta in 2009. What an amazing show.

Okay, I admit it, the first player I looked for was Clarence. From my seats, I wasn't sure I would see him--but when they call Clarence Clemons "The Big Man" they were not kidding. He stood taller than the rest of them and he got introduced last with "as the next possible King of England..." I think.

Yeah, I've been waiting and hoping that The Boss would come around here again with the E-Street Band. I won't be going this time, though. It just wouldn't be the same without Clarence.

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