Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Big Man

Sometimes we don't realize how important people are until they are gone.  Clarence Clemons died June 18th, last year.  When I watched footage of him performing with the E Street Band, he didn't really seem like anything special.  In this live performance of "10th Avenue Freeze Out," he had a great presence on stage but for some reason I didn't think much of it.

Recently Bruce Springsteen performed this song at the Apollo and when he sang about the "Big Man" joining the band, something remarkable happened.

He stopped the band where Clarence usually played a saxophone fill and there was a gaping musical hole.  The reason why I overlooked Clarence for so long was because he fit so seamlessly into Bruce's voice.  He wasn't merely a response to what Bruce sang about he was an extension of it.

Visually they seemed like such a mismatched pair but like Bruce talked about in his recent Rolling Stone interview, they were best friends, family and brothers.  The symbolism of them leaning on each other on the cover of Born To Run not only displayed a musical partnership but harmony between  races. 

Now I finally understand why Bruce opened his Superbowl Halftime show leaning up against Clarence. To replicate that image is to communicate what we need from each other and the power of friendship.

So who does Bruce lean against now? Who do we all lean against when the people we love leave us?  I don't know, but somewhere in Bruce standing tall encouraging his fans to fill the silence Clarence left behind, we may find some answers.   

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