Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Unfinished Business: June 20, 2011

This bit of Unfinished Business entails a bit of explanation; more so than I hope future installments will require. I will attempt to be succinct.

A Good Will Gesture.
As you likely know, we lost the great Clarence Clemons (left, top), the former saxophonist for Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band last June. I was surprised at how hard I took it. I was even more surprised at how difficult it was for me to verbalize my feelings as to why. I really shouldn’t have been so shocked, though; I’ve had difficulty in plumbing the depths of my affinity for Springsteen’s music for longer than I’ve been writing this blog.

As I’m sure he is to a lot of his fans, Springsteen has always been a borderline spiritual figure to me, not that I think the dude is god or anything, but for the extraordinary quality of his music; for what he stands for, both as a musician and as a human being; the honesty that flows from his lyrics; the raw passion that exudes from every musical pore of his being. It’s hard to summon up the words to describe the feeling that his work conveys to me — and for the longest time I tried, but couldn’t. I just couldn’t seem to do my own emotions the justice they deserved. That fact alone has hindered me from really saying much at all about him in this space; a place I originally intended to be my personal forum on the music and artists I love.

I’ve collected a lot of fond and funny memories over the years, relating to my Springsteen fandom that I’d always thought might make excellent blog fodder. However, before now I’d never managed to find the inspiration to break through that wall; to find the words that adequately described the feeling his music delivers to me. In another aborted post that I started nearly a year ago, I tried, but it simply wouldn’t come together as I’d hoped.

Then last June, Clarence died on the day before Father’s Day. I was devastated. Springsteen’s longtime friend, confidante, and musical partner in crime was a huge part of my affinity for Bruce’s music overall; his wasn’t simply an instrumental contribution that could be replaced by another sax player. To me, he was a major part of Springsteen’s musical appeal. Again, I wanted to render some kind of significant tribute; something significant to me if to no one else. A straightforward bio/career acknowledgement just wouldn’t do. It had to be more. I stumbled, struggled, and came up with nothing over two days.

Then I received a passively 'Willful’ assist from a guy I had the pleasure of meeting at a wedding I attended in 2008, who has since become one of my favorite personal bloggers. Will Stegemann (@betheboy on Twitter) offered a fun, yet poignant tribute to Clemons the day after his June 18, 2011 passing. His post shed the perfect amount of light on the dim confusion of my self-agitated bundle of emotion regarding Springsteen and the loss of Clemons.

Without spoiling the plot, the story delivers a tribute to Clemons as seen through the eyes of a sub-adolescent, as Will was at the time of his introduction to The Boss’s music. Will’s account of his own childlike sensibilities regarding his Dad’s favorite rock ‘n roll band helped to connect the dots of my over-complicated internal analysis of the place Springsteen’s work occupies in my own life. It allowed me stop thrashing about, mentally, and to look at things simply; identifying my relationship to the artist on the most basic of levels. Had I not read Will’s blog that day, there’s little doubt I’d still be wrestling with the concept even now.

Epiphanies aside, I still got hung up in parsing it all out, so the story sat unfinished for months until this week, when I finally decided to wrap it all up.

Melodramatic much? Oh, absolutely! But I embrace my inner drama queen; it’s a big part of what makes me who I am and I have no intentions to change.

I would hope, however, that after all this, you still have the intention to read this back-dated post, started on June 20, 2011, but finished just today:

Here’s to You, Big Man

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