“Tonight all is silence in the world”
Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band
June 17, 2011…another ride down to Jersey with my hubby and kids. Not surprisingly, the satellite radio was set to E Street for three hours. Instead of one Bruce hit after the other, E Street Radio sounded more like a talk show. The topic of discussion? Clarence Clemons.
The Big Man had suffered a stroke. What devastating news!!! The airwaves were full of speculation. The question of the day was…Would Clarence be able to play again? All of the callers were extremely concerned but in reality, nobody knew what was going on or how bad the stroke really was!
The news of the stroke made me so upset but I tried to stay positive and prayed for a miracle. However, in my gut I just had a really bad feeling…a bad feeling that the E Street Band would change forever.
Meantime, three hours go by and we finally arrive in Jersey. I kept myself busy with the kids but I had Clarence on my mind. I kept wondering…would he pull through?
Early the next morning, Tom and I decided to take a ride across the river to Manhattan. It was a beautiful day and we couldn’t wait to exercise in Central Park. We got in the car and the radio was still set to E Street and… the dreadful news…RIP Clarence Clemons.
“Tonight all is silence in the world”
I looked at Tom and just started crying hysterically. I couldn’t stop. I just kept sobbing and saying…Oh my God! Oh my God! That’s it. It’s over. How do you go on without Clarence Clemons? June 18, 2011…the day the E Street Band changed forever.
After Clarence’s death, every single time I listened to a Bruce song, the saxophone seemed LOUDER. Actually, it seemed as if I could only hear the saxophone. Of course, when I hear Jungleland,… I ONLY hear Clarence. That sax solo is magical. The thought of Bruce singing that song without the Big Man is tragic.
Clarence’s role in Jungleland is best described in his own words. In the documentary “Wings on Wheels, The Making of Born to Run,” the Big Man reflects on his sax solo in this way…
“Jungleland has a spiritual connotation and that’s the part I brought in, that made my space you know, this is what I brought to the table.”
“Sixteen hours of standing in front of a microphone working out every note.”
“The Jungleland thing was the most intricate collaboration in the history of my life with Bruce Springsteen.”
“When I finished it and listened to it and they put it together, it was like, WOW, this is really great.”
“ I have people coming and tell me, ‘man that Jungleland solo saved my life’ or ‘the solo of this song brought me out of a place I was in, that was so bad.’ I feel like I’ve done my job, I’m doing my job.”
Clarence Clemons most definitely did his job. In my opinion, he defined the highest level of achievement that every saxophone player should strive to reach. Without a doubt, Clarence Clemons was the ultimate sax player. His talent and passion for his art was a miracle and gift from heavenly skies. He was committed to perfection. Bruce speaks of Clarence’s dedication in “Wings on Wheels, The Making of Born to Run” in this way…
“His ability to focus and the patience…we were going after something and to spend hours and hours on it without it flustering him.”
There will never be another Clarence Clemons! The days following his death, I kept searching online for any news about his funeral. I felt such a strong desire to be connected to Clarence’s farewell. Soon after the services, Bruce’s official website published the eulogy. The story Bruce revealed to the congregation about their friendship was so touching and heartfelt. Of course, I cried after reading it and of course, I printed it out. It’s kept with my important personal papers. It’s that important and special to me. The highlights:
“I leaned on Clarence a lot; I made a career out of it in some ways.”
“From the first time I saw my pal striding out of the shadows of a half empty bar in Asbury Park, a path opening up before him; here comes my brother, here comes my sax man, my inspiration, my partner, my lifelong friend. Standing next to Clarence was like standing next to the baddest ass on the planet.”
“Standing together we were badass, on any given night, on our turf, some of the baddest asses on the planet. We were united, we were strong, we were righteous, we were unmovable, we were funny, we were corny as hell and as serious as death itself.”
“Together, we told an older, richer story about the possibilities of friendship…Clarence carried it in his heart. It was a story where the Scooter and the Big Man not only busted the city in half, but we kicked ass and remade the city.”
“Clarence was big, and he made me feel, and think, and love, and dream big. How big was the Big Man? Too fucking big to die.”
“Clarence doesn’t leave the E Street Band when he dies. He leaves when we die.”
Once again, I “lean” on Bruce’s words to help cope with the loss of the Big Man. He said it best during the Wrecking Ball tour,
“If you’re here, and we’re here, then they’re here.”
Bruce is always right! Clarence (and Danny too) …I miss you! The E Street Band will never be the same but will never die! Nobody can stop the music! It’s eternal.
Big Man- I miss you and love you!