One of the best parts – if not the best part – of the 2012 #WreckingBall tour (and no, it was not Miley Cyrus, though her knockoff rendition of Wrecking Ball was probably a tribute to the Boss too), was each show’s rendition of #TenthAvenueFreezeout. This is true for several reasons: one of which is because the performance is the perfect showcase of why #TheBoss @BruceSpringsteen @BruSpringsteen is the best live act alive, with a community of fans who worship as I do – in the #HouseofSpringsteen & #EStreet.
The second reason is because it also showcases the Boss as not only a rock and roller, but a rock and soul-er. The 2012 tour in particular, returned to the stage with new life, infused by loss and grief, but salvaged and reborn again through the power of music and spirituality. Not only did it show the spirituality and soulfulness of the Boss and his music, but it imparted the transformational influence of music on his life and our lives, and communicated the impact of his Catholicism as a child and as an adult. The recent tours also reinforced the gravitas and goodness of his character as a person, with more engagement than ever into crowds of people, jumping from balconies of the intimate Apollo Theatre to singing to me behind the stage at the Izod Center. The shows and more recent events & public appearances including the Concert for Valor, Brian Williams’ induction into the New Jersey Hall of Fame, the Kennedy Center Honors, and his most recent honor for his work with Veterans – the Lincoln Award, as well as personal outings to support his friend @Sting’s debut of @TheLastShip on #Broadway, demonstrate his unparalleled loyalty to his fans, to his family of origin, and to his family of choice: the #EStreetBand and his #BloodBrothers, @StevenVanZandt, @ClarenceClemons, @DannyFederici, @RoyBittan, @MaxWeinberg, @GaryTallent, @NilsLofgren, @SisterSusieTyrell, the newer members of the band including Clarence’s nephew @JakeClemons, my friend @EverettBradley, the gospel, rapping, soulful back-up singers Darlene Love and Michelle Moore, the orchestral/big band musicians, and of course, Bruce’s wife and longtime band member who broke into the #EStreetBoysClub way back when – @PattiScialfa. More than anyone though, Bruce’s friendship with Clarence showed kindred spirits in action, how two minds, hearts, and souls beat to the same rhythm, creating a bond that transcends time, and then sharing it with all of us to not only enjoy, but to be inspired, and to remind us that kindred spirits – and family – can be found in the most unlikely places, on the most unlikely stages, at the most unexpected times, and sometimes even at the times when we need them most.Finally, the performance also pays tribute to and honors those key members of that family who are no longer with us: Clarence Clemons & Danny Federici.
Bruce’s relationship to the Big Man in particular, and Clarence himself, reminds me of my relationship and my family’s to our own “Big Man” and to the man himself: a man named Aston Taylor who was and always is very much a part of the maternal side of my family. He called me – and all the girls in our family: STAR, making me feel like one every time I was with him. He called my grandmother (and my grandfather) BOSS. He called the boys in the family “MASTERS“. Taylor came to this country from Jamaica around 1960 and met my grandfather several years later in downtown Manhattan. Papa hired him on the spot, and they became not only fast friends, but blood brothers – just like Bruce and Clarence. As my grandfather requested prior to his death, Taylor watched over my grandmother throughout the rest of her life, and they were not only best friends, but also “blood brothers”. Taylor was engaged in our lives from the minute we entered the world, and knew more about my grandfather and his career, as well as our family, than almost anyone. I was lucky enough to interview him about his “insider” role to my grandfather’s career and he told me more things about my grandfather’s role in history than any media outlet or the public is aware. He told me more than I was already aware! He had a front row seat to history, and has a front row seat from up above, watching the biggest filmmaker of our time @StevenSpielberg pay tribute to my grandfather and his role in history, with the recent #KennedyCenterHonors honoree @TomHanks playing our own @JamesBDonovan.com. Taylor, did you see the cars riding around Brooklyn?Just like yesterday!
Thanks to the generosity and kindness of dear friends, I was lucky enough to spend significant time with Taylor at his house in Florida shortly before he died. His living room was literally a shrine to our family, something I will cherish forever – just like him. When he died the following year, I was so grateful to have had those special times with him one-on-one. I believe that God had graced me with that extraordinary opportunity for a reason. When we lost Taylor (as well as losing our grandmother shortly before that, and of course our grandfather) our family felt very incomplete. It still feels that way, though legacies and kindred spirits have a way of being present – at the most unexpected times and in the most unlikely places.
When Danny and then Clarence died, the #EStreetBand and the #EStreetNation felt incomplete without them – until this tribute that Bruce led on tour in 2012, through even the High Hopes tour in 2014. How the tribute was produced and performed is so powerful, so incredibly and appropriately reverential to their everlasting presence and larger-than-life-legacies, that Bruce was able to bring them alive and with us to each city, stage, arena, and field throughout the entire tour, reminding us that really – the Band is still complete, they have never left, nor will they ever leave. Of course we would all prefer to have them physically here with us, but the spirit and the soul transcend physicality in such a way, rendering their presence to be timeless and perhaps even more meaningful than ever. So you see, as Bruce said in his eulogy to the Big Man, “‘Clarence doesn’t leave the E Street Band when he dies. He leaves when we die”. I might venture to add to that now: not even when the Band dies, will you leave us. “Big Man” Taylor – and of course my grandparents on both sides of my family: You haven’t left us. You won’t ever leave us, not even when we die. Taylor, when the changes were made uptown and you joined our band, you always were and still are a part of our family. The fish are still jumping for you down in @SpringLake. I see you just like it was yesterday, just before the @Belmar gates on Ocean Avenue at the North End Beach, approx. blocks from #10thAvenueandEStreet. I’ll be seein’ ya someday beyond those #Belmargates. Until then, I’m fishing off the moon over the deep blue Atlantic with your star – and those of my grandparents on both sides of the family – guiding me and all of us to #heavenonearth. Happy Birthday #BIGMAN @ClarenceClemons!! Blow out an extra candle or two for me. I’m making a wish, and it’s a good one….a really good one.
#EStreetNation #ClarenceClemons #DannyFederici #BruceSpringsteen #EStreetBand #music #RollingStone #rockandroll #ClarenceClemonsDay