Top 10 Clarence Clemons Songs
Some of Bruce Springsteen's most popular tracks could also be considered Clarence Clemons songs, due to the saxophonist's strong contributions to the legendary singer's music. In addition to his work with the “Boss,” the “Big Man” had also worked with artists from Jackson Browne to Twisted Sister and Lady Gaga across his 40-year career. Sadly, Clemons passed away at the age of 69 on June 18 after suffering a stroke a week earlier. In remembrance of his stellar career, we present this list of the Top 10 Clarence Clemons Songs:
'You're a Friend of Mine'
Of all of the work Clemons has done over the years, it's this duet with Jackson Browne that is his most well-known recording outside of the E Street Band, with Aretha Franklin's 'Freeway of Love' coming in second. 'Friend' somehow comes off as a musical version of the "buddy movies" that were popular at the time, and it has a good hook, if you overlook the dated production.
'Santa Claus is Coming to Town'
Clemons contributes a jolly solo to Springsteen's update of this Christmas classic, in which everybody looks forward to Santa's visit. Especially Clarence, who purportedly is set to get a new saxophone from Santa in exchange for all of the hard work he's put into practice that year. We're not sure if Santa ever delivered on that one, but we still believe in Christmas all over again every time we hear this song.
'Spirit in the Night'
'Spirit in the Night' finds Springsteen and Clemons traveling to Greasy Lake in one of their first collaborations. Recorded as one of the final tracks for Springsteen's debut, Clemons helps to make it one of the finest songs on the album. The lyrics also introduce us to recurring characters like 'Wild Billy' and 'Crazy Janey' for the first time.
'Prove it All Night'
When Bruce reunited with the E Street Band in the late '90s, 'Prove It All Night,' even reduced in length from the elongated '70s version, showcased the importance of Clarence Clemons' role within Springsteen's music. The tag-team soloing between Clarence and Bruce provides a priceless moment of interplay between the two that's guaranteed to give you goosebumps.
One of the most popular Clarence Clemons songs in terms of concert soloing space, 'Badlands' finds Bruce handing off the spotlight to his horn-blowing friend before re-joining him at the song's conclusion to bask in the vocal embrace of the crowd. Often slotted as the concert opener, 'Badlands' gives any unsuspecting audience their first full glimpse of the 'Big Man' in full effect.
'Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)'
Fans are always delighted when "Rosie" comes out, and for years, you could count on getting this as one of the closing numbers of a Springsteen set. Clemons turns in a sax line on 'Rosalita' that positively rollicks throughout, making each appearance of this song's heroine a truly special treat.
Clemons punctuates one of Springsteen’s greatest stories with a dramatic entrance just as the singer pronounces that “it’s a town full of losers, and I’m pulling out of here to win!” His tight solo helps to underscore the feeling of hope that yes, indeed, there is still “one last chance to make it real.”
'Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out'
‘Tenth’ not only tells the story of the E Street Band, but it also functions as an example of one of the many Bruce songs featuring a grand arrival from Clarence. Our hero barrels in with a triumphant solo just as Bruce finishes detailing the classic moment when “the ‘Big Man’ joined the band."
'Born to Run'
A longtime fan favorite, ‘Born to Run’ has become a celebratory moment in the Springsteen setlist, typically performed with the house lights up. The epic track is one of many E Street Band tunes that finds Clemons and his fellow band members burning full-throttle towards the finish line. ‘Born to Run’ is without a doubt one of any saxophone enthusiast's favorite Clarence Clemons songs, and remains inspirational on every level.
Without question, this is one of the finest moments from the ‘Big Man.' As is often the case with Clarence Clemons' song contributions, his classic solo on ‘Jungleland’ really carries the collective emotions behind Bruce’s thoughts and words to the next level. You'll find nary a dry eye among the emotional Bruce fans listening to Clarence wrap up his tender performance on 'Jungleland.'