Listening to Bruce Springsteen's music always makes me happy. Even the sad songs have an underlying joy that always brings to mind that line from "Badlands" - "It ain't no sin to be glad you're alive!" That's the line that always makes you want to jump out of your seat and dance around the room. That is, if you haven't already.
Springsteen's lyrics are dependent on the music to make them live, to make them become the anthems of our lives, and for the last forty years, with a few brief pauses, that music has been brought to life by the E Street Band with Springsteen's voice finding its echo in the soulful saxophone of the man he called "Big Man," Clarence Clemons. Now Big Man, the Minister of Soul, is gone, his saxophone silenced.
Clemons had had many health problems in the last few years and last week he suffered a stroke. He died of complications from the stroke over the weekend.
It's hard to imagine the E Street Band without him. He was such an integral part of its sound. But he's not the first member of this iconic rock band to die. Danny Federici, the organist and accordion player who had been there at the birth of the band, died three years ago. The band goes on and no doubt it will go on even without Clarence. Probably the only indispensable member is Bruce, himself.
Still it will be a different band without its Minister of Soul and some of that joyful sound will be absent, at least for a while. But I feel sure the remaining members of the band will rock on. Musicians may die but the music lives forever.