Sunday, June 19, 2011

Clarence Clemons 1942-2011

Clarence Clemons 1942-2011
Clarence Clemons, the sound behind that bellowing saxophone in Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band moved on from this sweet life today at the age of 69.

I grabbed the photo above from the Rotation and Balance blog for a reason. Rotation and Balance is my original office spouse. And today, Bruce Springsteen lost his office spouse, Clarence Clemons.

Isn't that just the saddest thing ever?

I watched a slew of videos today on YouTube with Bruce and Clarence doing their thing, making the world more magical and loving every minute of it. They both tell the story about the night they met. How it was a dark and stormy night. Bruce was playing in a bar. Clarence walked in the door and just as he walked in the door, a strong wind came and blew the door off the hinges. The bouncers ran after the door down the street. And there stood this massive black man in the entrance of the bar with the storm raging behind him. This scene... somehow announcing that someone very important just walked in. He walked up to Bruce and asked if he could play. Bruce said yes. They began to play and they both say it was love. And that was that. They've been playing together ever since.

They came alive on stage and inspired everyone who saw or heard them to do the same. Even I became a writer the moment I heard the opening lines to Thunder Road.
Screen door slams
Mary's dress waves
Like a vision she dances across the porch
As the radio plays
Roy Orbison singing for the lonely
That's me and I want you only
This one stanza says so much. You can see the dusty road, the way her dress flows in the breeze as she sashays across the porch, which is the kind of porch that could always use a paint job. Even though to paint it would make it look ridiculous unless you repainted the whole house and the only time anyone is going to repaint that house is if someone sells it and newlyweds move in.

All this in 30 words or less. It made me want to choose the fewest and best words to say what needs to be said.

I'm still working on it. 

I'm not the only one that broke open with creativity the moment they heard a Bruce Springsteen song. In fact, I'm typical. Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band make you dream of things.
The reason my friendship with my office spouse flourished was because of our mutual love of Springsteen. The office spouse was/is/will always be obsessed with Bruce and I was young and just starting my guitar lessons so I was eager to learn. And learn I did. Every day there was a new Bruce song and a new Bruce story.

Once, I went up to the office spouse and said I was having a bad day. He said, "No problem. I've got a new Thunder Road LIVE." So we went to the parking lot and blared Thunder Road in his car.

He knew exactly what would make me feel better. The one song that reminded me why I became a writer.

And that's just one story about how Springsteen music changes things. The world is full of Bruce stories. Why? Because the music is affecting. Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band helped you recognize yourself. They help you recognize the world around you. They are the living embodiment of this quote by Howard Thurman...
Don't ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.
Clarence, your life made people come alive. I can just imagine you at the gates of Heaven. It's a stormy night and you walk through the gates just as a gust of wind comes along and tears the door off the hinges. Somehow announcing that someone very important just walked in.


  1. Beautiful. I love reading your posts when they're not about me. But I especially love it when they are. Thank you my friend.

  2. I read the chic lit book "Something Borrowed" on my honeymoon and the author quoted Thunder Road several times. I hate to admit it, but I'm not even sure if I've ever heard it. My old office spouse and I used to listen to U2 instead.

    I'll go download it now in memory of Clarence.

  3. The last show Clarence ever played was in Buffalo.


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