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Happy B-Day Clarence Clemons

It is possibly the most resounding moment of my very long and distinguished concert-going career.

My first ever Springsteen show.

November 6, 1999, Fargo, ND.

I can’t even remember who I went with, but I can rattle off the set list song for song.

It was in the middle of an extended “Tenth Avenue Freeze Out” that Bruce entered into one of his funny, intriguing and goofy monologues/stories of how the E Street Band came together, how they all came down to the “riverside” and were “baptized” by rock and roll.

Each member received their own special intro (star of late night telleeeeevision…the man who brings the thunder night after night…on drums The Mighty Max <Weinberg>!).

He introduces all but one.

And there we stood on the riverside. But still, something was…missing.

Crowd begins to rise.

Something very…large.

Crowd gets louder.

Bruce falls to his knees before the individual, and addresses the crowd.

Say who?!

Crowd: “Clarence!”

Say who??!!

“Clarence!!”

SAY WHO???!!!!

“CLARENCE!!!”

And Bruce launches back into “Freeze Out”: Well the maid got change uptown, when The Big Man joined the band!

And Clarence “Big Man” Clemons let loose a sax-blast.

Cannot believe he’s 69 today.

I last saw Bruce and E Street in May of ’09. Bruce at 61 was/is still Bruce: running, jumping, swinging, yelling, joking for 3+ hours.

In contrast though, the rest of the band has noticeably slowed.

Don’t get me wrong; they still deliver like nobodys business.

But you’ve heard things over the years about aches and pains, about hip and knee replacements.

Again, Bruce is Bruce. The rest of us are just mortals. But I noticed during that last show, Clarence sat down, only rising when the moment called for a sax solo.

Which is fine. Maybe selfishly, maybe not, I just want him to keep going.

So take a seat, Big Man. You’ve earned it.

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