Friday, July 1, 2011

A Final Look At This Half-Busted City

Clarence doesn't leave the E Street Band when he dies. He leaves when we die.

If that was the entirety of the eulogy that Bruce Springsteen gave at the memorial service of his long-time friend and musical brother in arms Clarence Clemons, then its brevity would have served as nothing than a side note to its poignancy and its power.  If he said simply that and nothing more.  In fact, he said a great deal more that that. 

Sometimes the density of language chokes the voice out of it.  Deprives it of its power if you will.  Keeps it from covering the distance between the speaker/author and his/her intended audience.  Mr. Springsteen's eulogy is not such an instance of that.  Not at all.  It is - as Clarence's sax solo on Jungleland is, was and shall forever be - pitch perfect: 

Together, we told an older, richer story about the possibilities of friendship that transcended those I'd written in my songs and in my music. 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, shaping it into the kind of place where our friendship would not be such an anomaly. And that... that's what I'm gonna miss. The chance to renew that vow and double down on that story on a nightly basis, because that is something, that is the thing that we did together... the two of us. 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. And that's just the facts. You can put it on his grave stone, you can tattoo it over your heart. Accept it... it's the New World.

It is pitch-perfect.  And its subject is not simply Clarence, Bruce or even the relationship that was uniquely theirs for that matter.  Its subject is universal.  Its subject is love.  Whether one is a fan of Springsteen's music (as I am) matters not at all here.  All one needs to bring to bear here is a fundamental understanding of the concept that a complete life requires a bit of give and take.  It demands of us that we be willing to give our love to another and to receive the love of another as well.  And when we achieve that goal, although sadness will mark the occasion of our departure from this world at a time separate and distinct from that of a loved one, we can take solace and find joy in the fact that we are simply separated.  We are not disconnected. 

There is a land of the living and a land of the dead and the bridge is love, the only survival, the only meaning.  

And at day's end that should be enough to get you through...

....come what may.  


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