Posts tagged ‘e street band’

June 20, 2011

Clarence Clemons – thanks for the memories


The original Born to Run cover

When a publisher asked me a few years ago to list my favourite albums of all time for a collection of essays from rock critics, the easiest decision was what to put at No. 1. “The Wild, the Innocent & the E Street Shuffle” was fun, funky and fantastically listenable. It’s also timeless. I didn’t discover early Bruce Springsteen until the late-80s, when I was a teenager, nearly two decades after the release of “Greetings from Asbury Park”. While that first album gets acclaim for putting Springsteen on a map larger than the Jersey shore and while the third album, “Born to Run,” is what produced his signature tune, it’s the second album that has the most soulfulness, I think. It’s not perfect, meandering at times, and not preciously produced like “Darkness on the Edge of Town”. What “The Wild, the Innocent & the E Street Shuffle” has, though, is the exuberance that captures the live E Street Band experience that so many of us not only love, but cherish as some of the best memories of our lives.

Going to see an E Street Band concert is going to church for a lot of us. When I heard “Rosalita” live for the first time in Vancouver four years ago, it was rapturous. Every note swimming through me, uplifting me, making me jump a little lighter. A lot of us are tearful because the passing of Clarence Clemons means we’ll never have such a moment again.

The Big Man’s star turns are on “Born to Run,” with the solo on “Jungleland” and the shout-out from Bruce on “Tenth Avenue Freeze-out”. But it’s on “Rosalita” and “Incident on 57th Street” from “The Wild, the Innocent & the E Street Shuffle” that we hear it all coming together: The E Street Band before they were officially called so melding into the great outfit they became, and doing so in large part because of Springsteen’s insistence on having a saxophonist at a time when no one else did.

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