In keeping with this weeks blog posts I have the joy of doing a mix-tape on what I regard as Clarence Clemons best bits. Now, my aim in these tracks is not to ‘Out Clarence’ anyone & I am certainly no Saxophone expert. All of the tracks I’ve chosen are from Springsteen albums, as that is where we knew & loved him. These are (in my opinion) his greatest 10 moments on Springsteen tracks. (I’d love it if people think I’ve missed any out and want to leave comments below…if you don’t you’ll only make my ego big)
1) Thunder Road (Born To Run, 75)
The opening track to the album that Clarence famously appeared on the cover sleeve of. Quite simply a masterpiece of a track, it opens gently with a soft harmonica and ends closes with Springsteen screaming ‘It’s a town full of losers, and I’m pulling out of here to win’. Then it’s over to Clarence & Bruce with one of there most famous partnerships…love it!
2) Tenth Avenue Freeze-out (Born To Run, 75)
This is Clarence Clemons track… enough said!
‘When the change was made uptown and the Big Man joined the band
From the coastline to the city all the little pretties raise their hands
I’m gonna sit back right easy and laugh when Scooter and the Big Man bust this city in half
With the Tenth Avenue freeze-out, Tenth Avenue freeze-out’
3) The Fever (18 Tracks, 99)
Rumour has it that this track lost out to Jungleland for appearance on Born To Run… As a result Springsteen gave this song (like so many others) to good friend Southside Johnny, who’s version is fantastic. On this version, Clarence doesn’t appear on Sax. It’s his voice that get’s the nod. I love his soulful ‘When he’s got The Fever for a girl…’ on this track.
4) Bobby Jean (Born In The USA, 84)
My personal favourite track from Born In The USA. Normally I harp on about Springsteens lyrics in this but on this occasion I’ll let you listen to the track, and the classic ending ‘Good luck…goodbye…Bobby Jean’ (THEN SAX!)
5) Born To Run (Born To Run, 75)
It takes less than 1 second of this track for Clarence to blast his Sax in one of the most iconic ways possible only to top it at the 1:52 mark with a famous Clarence solo! This is Born To Run…do I really need to explain?
6) Prove It All Night (Darkness On The Edge Of Town, 78)
There is a bit in the film The Promise: The Making of Darkness on the Edge of Town where in the studio Clarence realises that there isn’t as much Saxophone in this album and is he required…then there is Prove It All Night to prove yes! I have seen this song live numerous occasions, each time the part of this track where Clarence sax solo is followed by a Bruce solo (which lasts maybe 30 seconds on here) lasts minutes with them going back and forth. This whole song can take up to 15 minutes live as Steve Van Zandt, Nils Lofgren and the rest of the E Street Band get involved. This is a great track that reminds me of seeing the band live.
7) Secret Garden (Greatest Hits, 95)
In a change of pace this is a rare occasion where Clarence plays unbelievably softly throughout the track made famous by Jerry Maguire…but for me steals the show. The Sax makes this track, beautiful.
8) Mary’s Place (The Rising, 02)
I watch the Live in Barcelona DVD a lot. There is a fantastic moment during Mary’s Place where Bruce refers to the show as a ‘House Party’ then to the E Street Band as ‘The Greatest little house band in the land’. And that is what this song reminds me of as when introducing the band piece by piece he leaves Clarence till last (as he always did)… ‘Minister of Soul…You wish you could be like him but you CAN’T! BIG MAAAAAAAAANNNNNNN Clarence Clemons!‘
9) Spirit In The Night (Greetings From Asbury Park, 73)
I love this track and when I was making this mix tape I didn’t immediately think of it as there are no epic Sax solo’s, etc in it. Then it I was listening to this album and as this track came on I realised that the Sax barely goes away at all on this track, if it wasn’t there the track wouldn’t work the same, it’s subtle, which makes it ace!
10) Jungleland (Born To Run, 75)
I’m sure it’s no surprise I ended on this track, and it’s no surprise there are 4 tracks from Born To Run on this mix tape, it always felt like Bruce & Clarences album. When I posted the first post this week a friend of mine sent me a message reminiscing about when he saw Jungleland live at Emirites Stadium in 2008. That same year I saw Jungleland at Cardiff Millennium Stadium and it was clear we had the exact same experience. ‘HOLY SHIT…I’M SEEING JUNGLELAND!’ Clarence Clemons solo in this song is, like the man himself, epic! When I saw this live the whole stadium was silent as Clarence took centre stage, it was a moment I will never forget and I count myself lucky to have seen it happen.
So there you go. Now tell me I’m wrong and what gems I’ve missed. I know you want to!