Springsteen Eulogy Makes Mourning Clemons Make Sense
After a hard week and a half, the tribute to the Big Man that really matters
The past week and a half of grieving for Clarence Clemons has included fans spontaneously gathering at the Stone Pony in Asbury Park to cry and wail and drink, E Street guitarist Steve Van Zandt calling Clemons an "irreplaceable performer" as well as a "friend and a brother. At The Root, Samuel Freedman analyzed Clemons' relationship with Springsteen as "Rock's Buddy Movie," with a critical eye to image, but a smart understanding of the pair's friendship. Branford Marsalis offered his musical analysis of Clemons's style. But there's been one big voice conspicuously missing: Bruce Springsteen's. Today, the Boss weighed in beautifully on the Big Man's passing in a eulogy on his Web site.
The piece is a great essay on a fascinating character who obviously bore an outsize influence on those around him, including (especially?) Springsteen himself. And in classic fashion, Springsteen's prose is thick with the one-line mementos, reminiscent of his songwriting, that you can carry away and repeat to convey the gravity of the piece. That's exactly how people are passing along word of the eulogy's publication: One-line quotes that seem to encapsulate the feeling of the entire review. There are a lot of them.
Clemons "doesn't leave the E Street Band when he dies. He leaves when we die" tweeted Rolling Stone in its pointer. "Standing next to Clarence was like standing next to the baddest ass on the planet," tweeted The New York Times' Tom Jolly. "Clarence's ability to enjoy Clarence was incredible," tweeted Slate's Jack Shafer. "Long before Prince was out of his diapers, an air of raunchy mysticism ruled in the Big Man's world," tweeted Huffington Post's Josh Sternberg. you get the idea. People are smitten. Clarence Clemons was a legendary musician and a great figure in rock, and we're not going to embarrass ourselves by trying to eulogize him here. You should just go straight to the Boss and let him do it.