Goodnight in Jungleland

Posted on June 22, 2011

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Clarence Clemons - RIP Big Man

It was with great sadness on Sunday morning that I woke to discover that Clarence Clemons had died. I had heard about him having a stroke during the week but hoped that he would pull through.

Unfortunately, this was not the case and as a result, the world has lost an incredibly talented musician.

Unfortunately I cannot claim to know of Clemons work through anything other than the work of Bruce Springsteen whom I adore possibly more than life itself.

I first discovered Springsteen when I was about 16. I found a CD in my brother’s room – the Greatest Hits one with the Boss on the cover, back to the viewer and guitar hanging from under his leather jacket.

I’d nicked albums on my brother before – some of them proved to be winners, others not so much. So I stuck this one into the CD player with not too many high hopes. The first song on that album was ‘Born to Run’. How could you ever look back?

I firmly believe that listening to that album changed not only my taste, but perception of music forever.

And part of that change was down to what can only be described as sublimely beautiful and incredible saxophone playing by Clarence Clemons. The solo in ‘Born to Run’ is a piece of genius – vigour in music that sounds so good you could die happy after hearing it.

But the one solo that sticks with me always and the song too for that matter, is Jungleland, off what is one of the best albums ever made, ‘Born to Run’.

Whatever it has worked out for me, Jungleland has become my ‘accomplishment song’. It always pops up around the time that something good has happened for me. Finishing my Leaving Cert, getting the results, finishing my degree, getting the results, getting jobs here and there, winning things, it’s on my MP3 waiting for another turn after I hand my MA thesis in on Thursday.

Volume up to the top, windows down (with any luck a sunny day) and Jungleland blazing out. It’s my picture of heaven. And Clemon’s solo in the middle, oh that solo…

Someone remarked to me lately that as good as Clemons was and the rest of the E-Street band is, Springsteen could have and would have gone on without them. He would still have been the musician he is and would still have had the following. He may be right.

But if you ask me, Springsteen will always be a legend. That goes without saying.

But thanks to Clemons & Co. he’s a God.

Rest in Peace Big Man. Your genius is irreplaceable. You will be sorely missed.