The Garden State pays tribute to Bruce Springsteen’s right hand man, the minister of soul, Clarence “Big Man” Clemons.
This past weekend the music world suffered a tremendous loss with the passing of legendary saxophonist for the E-Street band, Clarence Clemons. Over the past week countless music critics have taken turns eulogizing the “Big Man,” touching on his friendship with Springsteen, stage presence, and of course his virtuosic solo on “Jungleland.”
Today, governor Chris Christie and state of New Jersey paid tribute to Clemons by dropping the flags down to half-staff in honor of the most famous and iconic member of Bruce Springsteen’s legendary E Street Band. It’s a fitting tip of the cap to the man, myth and legend who helped shape the musical identity of the Garden State.
“Clarence Clemons represented the soul and spirit of New Jersey,” said Gov. Chris Christie in a recent statement. “His partnership with Bruce Springsteen and the rest of the E Street Band brought great pride to our state and joy to every fan of this music around the world…On a personal note, when I heard about the Big Man’s passing on Saturday night, I was struck with an overwhelming feeling that the days of my youth were now finally over.”
While I don’t always agree with Gov. Christie’s politics, I won’t hesitate to echo his thoughts and feelings on the Big Man’s passing. The simple fact is he meant a little more to New Jerseyans—he was a spokesman for a proud state that is constantly spit on and ridiculed. Clemons was more significant than a musician to fans and citizens of New Jersey — he was family, like a tough older brother who scares off the bullies.
On my own personal note, even at the age of 24, I was misty-eyed over the death of Clemons. Although I may not have grown up in a generation that aged alongside Springsteen and his band, it doesn’t change the fact I still grew up listening to albums like “Born to Run” and “The Wild, the Innocent, and the E Street Shuffle.” And it got pretty dusty in my living room on Sunday morning as I sat listening to “Jungleland” and reading his obituary in the Newark Star-Ledger.
Springsteen’s music has always held strong connection with his fan base, anyone who’s seen the Boss and his E Street Band perform live can attest to his ability to make a stadium of 50,000 feel intimate. Clemons was a immeasurable part of that connection. He was a preposterously grand and unforgettable figure whose death will leave a great void in the legendary E Street Band as well as the hearts of music fans, and citizens of the great state of New Jersey.