Tagged: the e street band

I Made You A Mixtape…Nine (The Clarence Clemons Mix)

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!

Books You Say…? 'Big Man' – Clarence Clemons

In 2009 Clarence Clemons released his ‘memoirs’ of sorts, co-written with his close friend Don Reo, the title…BIG MAN!

I received this book as a gift almost immediately after it’s release. However, for one reason or another, this sat on my shelf until around about this time last year after the news of the passing of Clarence Clemons when I knew I had to pick it up. What followed was an absolute blast.

Firstly, I’d like to touch on the term ‘memoir’. This is addressed in the foreword of the book by both the authors and Springsteen, this book is a collection of stories by storytellers. The whole book is a selection of stories, in no particular order, which vary from tales Clarence was told as a child to hilarious stories about Bruce, The E Street Band and other famous friends and situations. Throughout the read you question what is real, what is enhanced for dramatic effect, and what is total BS, but that’s what makes this read so much fun!

‘Big Man’ also gives huge insight into the friendship of Bruce & Clarence and great insight into the man Bruce Springsteen and not just the rock star. I have read a fair number of Bruce Springsteen biographies and always felt a little short changed by never really learning anything new about him as a person. This book blew my mind with personal stories of these two friends who grew old together in the coolest way possible.

Now it’s impossible for me to write a review of this book without giving away some of it’s contents, so I’ve decided rather than write a huge review I will simply say if you are a fan of Clarence Clemons or indeed a fan of Bruce Springsteen, buy this book. It’s fantastic. Below are 3 of my favourite tales from the book that also involve Bruce. Go find them for yourself…

1) Clarence & Bruce meet for a drink in a biker bar in the back end of nowhere. They are sharing a drink and swapping stories when a ‘fan’ approaches and asks for a photo. Clarence says ‘sure’ so the guy passes Bruce the camera and poses with Clarence. Bruce takes the photo and when the guy leaves he says to Clarence ‘Say hi to Bruce for me’

2) The story of where Bruce got the red cap for the cover of Born in the USA…

3) On the last night of The Rising Tour the moment hits Clarence back in the car Bruce notices and asks ‘You okay?’ … after a short chat… “Hey Man…Thanks” said the Big Man. “For what?” asks Bruce. “For everything” replies Clarence.

OK, so far it’s been all Bruce & Clarence but this book is so much more. Stories of Clarence playing pool with Fidel Castro, meeting fans and meeting his wives are all fantastic but some of the best stuff in this book are also the chapters written by Don Reo. He tells the story of watching your best friend grow old. His understanding of who Clarence Clemons was is as important to this book as the insight

Clarence Clemons gives into who Bruce Springsteen is. Go buy it! You won’t be disappointed!

Remembering Clarence Clemons

One year ago today is the date of the sad passing of the legendary saxophonist of The E Street Band Clarence Clemons. For me, the news of his death was one of those “remember where you were” moments. Readers of this blog may have noticed that at least once a year I have a Bruce Springsteen related post, so on the anniversary of Clarence’s death it is no surprise I had a real urge to write about ‘The Big Man!’

Clarence was a man mountain, he was (as Bruce would introduce him), ‘The Biggest Man You’ve Ever Seen’, he was (and always will be) an absolute legend. Not only was he the saxophonist in the greatest house band in the land but he also appeared in Bill & Ted, The Wire & in his last years on earth was still cool enough to be demanded by the biggest popstar in the world, Lady Gaga.

I count myself extremely lucky to have had the chance to have seen Clarence in the flesh on 4 separate occasions. In the later shows he had his infamous throne to give him a break during Springsteens epic 3 hour+ sets, yet when the time came for The Big Man to step up he would still own the stage, still playing off the energy of the crowd and the rest of the band. Despite his body slowly working against him I will never forget the fantastic image at the end of the show. The whole band were stood down on a slightly lower (front) stage, right at the screaming crowd who were stretching as hard as they could to touch¬†either Bruce, Steve Van Zandt, Nils, or any of The E Street Band, however, while all this was going on the remainder of the audience were looking at only one man. Clarence Clemons stood a level up (his knees unable to support taking the few short steps down) standing behind the band, arms crossed, nodding…he was The Big Man and it was your privilege to have seen him. Epic!

And so, one year on from his passing Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band are back in the UK and therefore I have hijacked the blog for the next few days to dedicate a few posts to Clarence ‘The Big Man’¬†Clemons. In the next couple of days I will tell you about his book, share his best bits in mix-tape form and let Bruce say a little something about the man himself.