I have to admit that I'm really struggling to find anything to say that hasn't been said over the past several days about the passing of Clarence Clemons. There have been some very moving and heartfelt tributes, and some great retrospectives on the tremendous legacy of studio and live performances he leaves behind. I just don't see how I can add to the conversation.
I'll miss Clarence, we all will, and I don't see how the E Street Band can be the same without him. There are other sax players who can play those sax parts but I don't think it will sound right to our ears after hearing Clarence play those parts for so many years. The issue is not so much the notes but the sound, Clarence's sound. I don't have the knowledge or musical vocabulary to explain it, but when I hear that sound, I know it's Clarence.
The bigger issue is the man himself, his place on that stage, his friendship with Bruce, his role in the band, his place in their hearts and his connection with the fans. No one else can stand in that spot. I just don't see it. It won't look or feel right, and with no disrespect to all the sax players out there, I don't think it will sound right. You know something, I don't think I want it to sound right.
Will Bruce try to replace Clarence? Is this the end of the E Street Band? How can Bruce ever play Jungleland again, or get through the song without losing it? Will Bruce shuffle the deck, make some other changes and rename the band? I don't know. Time will provide the answers.
I imagine that the "What now?" question looms large for Bruce Springsteen, even though it's likely the last thing he feels like thinking about these days. The music will go on, it will continue to be great, but it won't be the same.
Here's some of what I'll be missing, and what I'll always cherish. Would you want to try to fill these shoes?
It seems inadequate to say, but thanks Clarence, for everything.