Our Executive Director Stephen Hazan Arnoff writes from his blog these thoughts on the passing of Clarence Clemons.
Clarence Clemons: Good Luck, Goodbye
But still, for most of the past forty years, as Springsteen played the part of the hard-fighting, openhearted contender for something glorious and fleeting, Clemons played the part of his best friend and sidekick — the one who could clear the floor with an explosion of melody at the moment when the odds had grown the most daunting and the danger most fierce.
It is also how Bruce Springsteen, like Sly Stone but for so much longer, dared to present America in the 1970s and beyond through the faces of a band that actually looked like America: people of color, ethnic, rough around the edges, and always ready to bust the chops of self-righteousness with a great sense of humor.
Kissing the Boss on the lips or embracing him in a giant bear hug at a peak moment in almost every show, Clemons was, in Springsteen’s words, “King of the World, Master of the Universe, more powerful than a locomotive, able to leap tall refineries in a single bound; it’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s the Big Man.”
Part of the reason that Bruce Springsteen has meant so much to America for so long is that the passion and truth of his band at work was as diverse, playful, successful, and natural as we wish our communities could be. The Big Man was an anchor for this community, and we mourn his passing.
(For Springsteen’s shaggy dog tale of the mythic first meeting of he, Miami Steve, and Clarence, click here. Thanks to David Biliotti for that…)