By Paul Aronsohn
Clarence Clemons will be genuinely missed.
The music. The feeling. The sense of rightness. The sense of home. Through his saxophone, Clarence was able to do something that no other musician has been able to do. He gave sound to an emotion that is uniquely New Jersey – an emotion that is as tough as it is soulful … as distinctive as it is familiar.
It is a sound that transcends both time and place. No matter where you are or what you are doing, Clarence’s saxophone has the ability to bring you back to a special place – one where things are good, things are hopeful, things are right.
For many of us, his music has been the backdrop against which we have lived our lives. Growing up. Moving away. Coming home. Hanging with friends. Dreaming big dreams. Working. Dating. Mourning. Celebrating. Living. Through it all, there was Clarence’s saxophone – penetrating our moments, lifting our spirits, putting it all in perspective.
For me, the journey began at age 11 when I bought my first cassettes, including Born to Run and Darkness. I later graduated high school to the tracks on Born in the U.S.A., but it was not until 1999 that I went to my first of many concerts.
Granted, unlike some of my friends, I was never a diehard fan. I did not follow the band to other states. I did not keep track of set lists. Yet, the music was always there. The powerful lyrics. The contagious energy. The penetrating saxophone.
In 1993, I actually had the opportunity to hang out with Clarence. It was inauguration night in Washington. Thanks to a mutual friend, we met up at the Hard Rock Café around midnight following the Big Man’s performance at an inaugural ball. We threw back a few beers and at his insistence, we talked politics. He explained that for the first time in his life he was excited about politics – that he believed in President Clinton and was really optimistic and enthusiastic about the future.
For me the Clinton staffer, his words gave special validation to the work I had done for the past year on the campaign and for the work I was about to do as an administration official. For me the longtime fan, our conversation gave me a special memory that I will always remember … always cherish … always share.
Clarence may have been born in Virginia. He may have lived his later years in Florida. But to millions of New Jerseyans – past, present and future – he will always be ours, and we will always be grateful for the big gift he gave us.
Thank you, Big Man.
Paul Aronsohn is a Councilman in Ridgewood