Farewell to The Big Man ….

The world lost quite a musical force of nature on the 18th of June. Clarence Clemons, the Big Man in Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band, passed due to complications from a stroke. An irreplaceable loss, indisputably.

Now, I’ll confess that Springsteen and co. haven’t done much of worth to me in many, many, many years, but the early works remain powerful and beautiful to me, and they remain a part of my life, and my soul. Bless you Clarence, for contributing so many heartrendingly excellent melodies to the canon of our sonic lives.

But why note all this here, on a wine blog? Accruers of Springsteen arcana will know, but in case the rest of you don’t, you’ll have to come with me all the way back to 1974. When The Boss looked like this:

as opposed to this:

And Big Man Clarence rocked like this:

It was Liberty Hall, in Houston, Texas, and Springsteen had a problem; a broken guitar string. For not the first time, and certainly not the last, The Big Man was right there to save the day, as he would do time and time again over the decades. The Big Man went to the mic, and called the tune, a little slab of jazzy soul by the legendary vocal trio Hendricks, Lambert, and Ross. The band hit it, and Clarence dropped the lines; some of the both funnier and more pathotic spins of viticultural prioritization ever committed to record. For example (lyrics approximate, as they were delivered live):

Well one day when I was laying down napping
When I woke up everything was burning with a snap, and a crackle and a pop
You know the fireman chopped up my TV set and tore my apartment apart
But when he raised his axe on my bottle, Jim, I had screamed with all my heart

Gimme that wine
Gimme that wine
Gimme that wine
Let me take one toast before I roast


Well one day when I was walkin’ home, staggerin’ home to bed
A bandit jumped from the shadows, put a blackjack upside my head
That cat took my watch, my ring, my money and I didn’t make a sound
But when he reached in for my bottle Jim, you could hear me scream for blocks around

Gimme that wine
Gimme that wine
Gimme that wine
Beat my head out of shape, but leave my grape

Wherever your journeys may take you now Clarence, here’s to hoping you’ve got your wine with you! You’ll be very, very missed, but we appreciate the gifts you left us. The rave-ups and rockers were groovy, but it’s the long, slow, elegantly stately and soulful ballads that continue to move me Clarence. They’re beautiful.

Categories: History, Viticultural Salmagundi, Wine & Music, Wine and Jazz, Wine Quotes, Wine Tales

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