Clarence Anicholas Clemons, Jr. (January 11, 1942 – June 18, 2011)
“When a great man dies, for years the light he leaves behind him, lies on the paths of men.”—Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
“Maybe,’ I figgered, ‘maybe it’s all men an’ all women we love; maybe that’s the Holy Spirit-the human sperit-the whole shebang. Maybe all men got one big soul ever’body’s a part of.’ Now I sat there thinkin’ it, an’ all of a suddent-I knew it. I knew it so deep down that it was true, and I still know it.”—John Steinbeck, Grapes of Wrath
Did you hear it, when sparks flew on E Street that first night Bruce Springsteen touched that hand, touched that heart, touched that mighty soul of Clarence Clemons. The world had never seen nor heard anything like it, nor will it ever be repeated.
And how was it for all of us the first time we saw that big man smile and then blow that saxophone so joyously that the earth trembled, the angels smiled, and we stood silently listening as our lives quietly changed forever. Did you hear it then as Bruce glanced over to his right and grinned so broadly.
How lucky we were to be on this Earth at this moment in time, to have been in his presence and watch a love so profound that it carried us on each and every note of his horn, on waves cascading unto the heavens above.
Even as your teardrops fell, did you hear it then? Look around and listen. Do you not see the light he has left to guide us on our paths? Even in the darkness, there is the paradise he always pointed to. The light so bright, so shimmering, so full of all those majestic years reaching out and touching us with the splendrous music of wonder.
The holy spirit, the human spirit, don’t you know they’re all one. Clarence knew. Were you listening all those nights he played on stages around the world? Was there ever a time he wasn’t a part of us. Was there ever a time we were not part of him?
Did you hear it when Bruce told us that the Big Man was the King of the World, the Master of the Universe. Why would you doubt it now. The universe embraced Clarence and added his peace, his energy, and his love to light up the darkness and send stars hurtling through the night.
In the silence that is now amongst us, take a moment and listen once more. Now do you hear it? Do you hear that sound? That deep rumble of the first notes of that huge saxophone. Keep listening for that music is starting to cascade as it always has when Clarence plays. Listen very closely. Then you must know that the sound you hear, that glorious saxophone sound that only the Big Man could play, is coming from deep within your own heart. It’s his gift to you. It’s his way of saying he will never leave you, and you are a part of him.
His joy and smile, his saxophone playing, will always light your path, for he is within you. Living on in your heart and soul. And that is the sound you hear, the sound you have always heard, the glory that was, that is, Clarence Clemons: An eternal heart beating to a saxophone playing within all of us.
Thank you, Clarence. Goodnight, and Rest in Peace, my friend.