I write this with tears in my eyes, for I feel like a friend of mine has passed away. I feel like a part of my childhood is gone. Although his legacy will live on in his music in whatever form I own now and in the future, I am still going to miss The Big Man.
I was born and raised in New Jersey. I grew up listening to Bruce Springsteen. Although it was more by osmosis than anything else. My parents weren't Springsteen fans. Having grown up in the 1950's, their era precluded Bruce. My brother and sisters were more into The Grateful Dead, James Taylor, and some others. But I picked up Bruce anyway. Thank goodness.
We did all manage to unite under the E-Street umbrella every Christmas, with their rendition of "Santa Claus is Comin' to Town." To this day, Christmas season does not officially begin for me until I hear this song. And because I can play it myself whenever I want, I have to hear it on the radio for it to truly bring me back to my childhood.
There was obviously no digital music back then, not even compact discs. And we didn't even own the cassette recording of this song for whatever reason. So my brother would set up his Sony boom box (very Jersey) in the kitchen with a blank cassette tape waiting for it to come on. When it did he would record it. Then, the real magic of Christmas...
He would press rewind, we would all take our places, my parents and sisters on the couches, my brother on lead vocals, I on the saxophone. He would press play, and after some garbled noises from the rudimentary recording device you would hear those familiar jingle bells marking the opening of the song. Then, we would lip sync (very 80s). My brother would start, "It's all cold down on the beach..." And I would wait with the anticipation of a child trying to fall asleep on Christmas Eve. But to me, even then, this was Christmas.
He would continue, and I would wait. He was lead vocals not because of his superior talent. It was because of his being four years older, and nothing else. I accepted this, and waited, because I always thought Clarence was cooler than Bruce anyway. My brother would lip sync his part, "...He knows if you've been bad or good. You better be good for goodness sake."
Clarence Clemons was a part it. Is a part of it. Will always be a part of it.
Thanks for this and thousands of other memories, Big Man. You'll be missed.