Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Remembering Clarence Clemons

I've linked to several tributes to Clarence Clemons on facebook and twitter this week. This has hit me really hard. Those who know me know that I am a huge Springsteen and E Street Band fan. They have been a part of my life since my friend Jeff first introduced them to me in 1983. I saw my first concert in 1984.

For almost 30 years, I have bought each album they put out, and seen almost every tour they've done. I saw them for the tenth time in 2008 with my daughter Ashley. My most recent concert was in 2009 with my friend Kenny (my most frequent date to Bruce shows; I think that was our fifth together).

The music that Bruce and Clarence made was a crucial part of the soundtrack of my life. Their music is always the most-played on my ipod, and the concerts are amazing, spiritually uplifting experiences.

A few months ago I read Clarence's book, Big Man: Real Life and Tall Tales. It was wonderful, and helped me better know the man whose music I've enjoyed over the years.

So when Clarence died last week, I felt like I'd lost a friend; someone who had been involved in my life for a long time. I was driving home late at night when my friend Andy called and told me. I put some Springsteen on the ipod and listened to the beautiful sounds of Clarence's sax as I grieved.

Clarence's death also impacted my boys. Brady and Cash love listening to the Bruce and the Band--on itunes and watching concert videos. (If you've never seen London Calling: Live in Hyde Park, check it out. In my opinion, the best Springsteen concert video.)

Brady has a toy saxophone; he and Cash (on drums or guitar) love playing along with the band. When Clarence had the stroke a week ago, I told the boys he was sick, and we prayed for Clarence. They prayed for him every day last week, so Sunday morning I had to tell them he had died.

Brady responded really well. He said, "Clarence is in heaven now right?"
"Yes," I said.
"So he's with Jesus now. He's OK. And someday, I'll get to see him!"

A little later, when Cash woke up, I heard this exchange:

Brady: We have some sad news. Someone died yesterday. Do you know who?
Cash: No.
Brady: Clarence died yesterday. He's in heaven now.
Cash: Why?
Brady: Sometimes people die when they are sick and they don't get better.

The boys rebounded from their grief a lot faster than I did. We have been listening to Clarence for the last couple days.

I remember something Clarence said in his book, about Danny Federici, E Street Band member who passed away in 2008: "I will miss him every day that I am alive."

I hope you are free and at peace and still making amazing music, Big Man.

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