Tuesday, June 28, 2011

One for the Road

A considerable amount of verbiage has been expended in this space over the course of the past week to ten days or so regarding the life and legacy of The Big Man Clarence Clemons, who died on June 18 at age 69.  As per my usual, I extend no apology for the choice of topic.  My little piece of real estate means it is my call as to what I want to discuss.  For better or for worse. 

Yesterday morning on the nj.com website, I came across a piece written by Jay Lustig of The Star-Ledger, whose insights and critiques of both live and recorded music I have read and enjoyed (if not always agreed with) for years.  In this particular piece, he performed a service for those of us who do not listen to Little Steven's Underground Garage radio show on Sunday night.  He shared with his readers some of what Little Steven had shared with his listeners Sunday night on the subjects of Clarence Clemons and the future of the E Street Band.  Speaking of the latter, Little Steven said in part that the show will go on.  As it should.  As it must.  "We will continue to make music and perform.  Let's face it, that's all we really know how to do."  Considering the accolades he garnered for his years of faithful service as Tony Soprano's consigliore (not to mention the proprietor of the hottest little gentleman's club in all of Bergen County), not to mention his gigs as a radio DJ on both terrestrial and satellite platforms, it would appear as if Mr. Van Zandt at least could find ways aplenty to fill his day should space open on his daily calendar.  Nevertheless he indicated that while life in the studio and on stage in the absence of Clarence will never be the same - similar if not identical to the manner in which life changed forever for all of the members of the group when Phantom Danny Federici died slightly more than three years ago, it will continue to move forward.  Perhaps it simply has to.

It was on the subject of Clarence Clemons that he waxed with simple elegance and eloquence.  From my limited and admittedly selfish perspective, I found them to be worth sharing here:

"Band members have a special bond. A great band is more than just some people working together. It's like a highly specialized army unit, or a winning sports team. A unique combination of elements that becomes stronger together than apart. We become a part of each other and experience marvelous, miraculous moments in life that only we truly share. We will continue to make music and perform. Let's face it, that's all we really know how to do. But it will be very different without him. Just as it's been different without Danny (Federici), our first lost comrade....

....And for the E Street Band, the heart of us, Clarence and Danny, will always be there, stage right. So thank you, Clarence. I didn't get a chance to say goodbye. But I'll see you again, soon enough. Thank you for blowing life-changing energy and hope into this miserable world with your big, beautiful lungs. And thank you for sharing a piece of that big heart nightly with the world. It needs it. You and that magnificent saxophone, celebrating, confessing, seeking redemption and providing salvation all at once. Speaking wordlessly, but so eloquently, with that pure sound you made. The sound of life itself."

The sound of wind in the black elms.  If you listen closely enough, then you can hear it.


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