Best wishes for the Big Man


There is nothing at all like a Springsteen concert. It’s two to three hours (or more) of music, dancing, and energy that just makes you feel more alive. It’s an old cliche, but if someone could find a way to bottle up and sell what Bruce and his band deliver onstage, that person would have something that everybody would want.

I have seen a grand total of one Springsteen show in my life, but that was enough for me to understand what it is about. Some people have been to hundreds of them, travelling far and wide to see the band perform. I can only wish I had the flexibility and the funds to do the same.

So now comes word that Clarence Clemons, the “Big Man” and as central a part of the music as there could be, has suffered a stroke and is reportedly fighting for his life. His condition will be the subject of lots of rumor and speculation in the days and months ahead. I, like every other music fan, hope he has a full and speedy recovery. But I have to consider that, even if that should happen, Springsteen shows will not be the same again.

If you’re Clarence Clemons’ doctor, do you tell your patient to get back out on stage after something like this happens? Of course not. And if you’re one of his family or his bandmates, would you give him that kind of advice? No, you would not. You would tell him to relax and give himself the best chance to recover from this. And that’s as it should be.

Fans of Springsteen, whether they’ve never seen a live show or they’ve lost track of how many they’ve seen, should prepare for the reality that they have probably seen their last Clarence Clemons performance. Hard to deal with, yes–and I will be the first to admit it if I get this wrong–but change is a part of life.

Will Bruce soldier on, as he has since Danny Federici died in 2008? That could happen. But how could he replace Clarence Clemons? The short answer is he couldn’t. And Bruce Springsteen knows this better than any of us ever could.

Godspeed, Big Man!

4 thoughts on “Best wishes for the Big Man

    1. I’m not sure what you mean by that, but thanks for reading.

      I still had hope that Clarence would pull through when I wrote this, but we know now that it didn’t happen. His work lives in in the new Lady Gaga song, at least. And the Springsteen music, for certain.

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