MyAmericanFuture

MyAmericanFuture
MyAmericanFuture

Sunday, June 19, 2011

June 20, 2011: Big Goodbye

In the fall of 2005, Bruce Springsteen was on tour in support of his recently released album The Ghost of Tom Joad (2005). The tour, like the album, was a solo affair, and mostly extremely stripped-down—Springsteen would often begin by asking the crowd to stay as silent as possible, to allow his stories and songs (which intertwined even more fully than usual on this tour, and which were infused with politics and social commentary much more than on any prior tour) to speak for themselves. But on the night of November 19th, Bruce played a show in Hollywood, Florida, and was joined onstage for a rare performance of the song “Drive All Night” (one of the least-remembered and –played, but most interesting and affecting, tracks from 1980’s The River) by his once-and-future bandmate and lifelong soulmate Clarence Clemons (who lived nearby). What followed was one of the most soulful and powerful live performances that I’ve ever encountered, by any artist, in any medium. It’s long, a shade over 9 minutes. But a eulogy for a Big Man deserves a big goodbye; Clarence Clemons passed away late Saturday night, and so this is my big goodbye to him:
No RIPs here—if there is a Heaven, I don’t expect that Clarence will be resting or peaceful there, at least not in the conventional senses; Clarence often said of late that the stage was the most magical and rejuvenative place he knew, and seemed to find peace most fully there, so if we change it to Rejuvenate in Performance, I’m fine with the sentiment. And whatever you believe or don’t believe about the afterlife, I think all of us who knew and shared in and loved Clarence’s work can agree that he’ll playing his heart out for the rest of time in ours.
More tomorrow,
Ben

UPDATE: This Backstreets page of stories and links has some amazing stuff, including an interview with the photographer of the Born to Run cover shot (who agrees with me about race and Clarence/Bruce) and an awesome U2 concert tribute to Clarence:

http://backstreets.com/clarence/

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