SUMMERTUNES-CLARENCE (BIG MAN) CLEMONS ALWAYS BORN TO RUN AN ULTIMATE CAR SONG
It's late summer 1975 and you're behind the wheel of your brand new Pontiac Trans Am...the one with the 455 V-8 and one more option- the FM radio.
That's the first time that you ever heard Clarence (Big Man) Clemons because in 1975 Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band were all FM on your radio dial.
The saxophone has always been an amazing musical instrument.
It is the heart behind the soul of many classic songs that owe their greatness to the grandest of the woodwind instruments.
That was always true when Bruce Springsteen hit the stage with his army of talented musicians that brought all those musical images in his head to life.
None of his sidemen was bigger musically and physically onstage than his sax-man, Clarence (Big Man) Clemons.
He was a 6 foot five tower of power who was born to play some of the hottest licks ever produced by a saxophone. Think of the E Street Band without a huge talent on the sax and you may have to think about just another bar band.
The breaks don't come easily for musicians and it would be fair to say that many very talented musicians never get that big break. Springsteen was creative enough to realize that his musical vision would include generous use of a talented saxophone player and Clemons fit the bill-to a tee.
The breakthrough for the E Street Band occurred in 1975 when the Boss released 'Born to Run', an iconic youth anthem that played very well to a large army of Baby Boomers.
It is a street song that captures the essence of danger and speed that could be found in a fast car or on a bike. The real point was a live-fast-die-young philosophy that has always been a fundamental part of life on the edge for the young and restless.
The Boss didn't re-invent the wheel with his message in 'Born to Run', but he did create a durable classic that owes much of its emotional impact to the judicious use of the Big Man's sax in the song.
To this day, that song can produce a powerful effect when heard over a car radio. It's a good thing that older car guys are less influenced by its incredible energy in 2011.
Thank you Big Man, you were a musical force.
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