Master Instructor SUE MOLNAR has written a beautiful post for the Soul Blog paying her respects to the Big Man, saxophone player Clarence Clemons. Spoiler Alert: It's a tear-jerker!
Come celebrate Clarence's life and music with us at Sue's second annual Bruce Springsteen ride, BridgeHampton Barns, Sunday July 3rd at 5:00 PM!!
Just a short note to pay my respects and offer my gratitude to The Big Man, Clarence Clemons – Bruce Springsteen’s saxophonist and right-hand man for the past 40 years. When I heard that he had had a stroke, I was concerned, because I had seen him performing with Bruce over the past few years and he seemed to be in a lot of pain. But I really didn’t think that Clarence was going to die – probably ever. He was too full of joy, and passion, and life! -- and only by my intense shock and sadness at his passing did I realize what a significant part of my rock’n’roll world he was.
I was about to say that I had never met him, but I just realized that I had him on my flight once! After he was finished with his first class snack, I offered him another, which he sweetly and enthusiastically took me up on. I was too shy at the time to tell him what a fan I was. I didn’t have to. I just thought to myself, “He’s the Big Man, he needs more than one snack!” And his happiness at my offer was enough for me. I’ll just say that in my experience, you can tell a lot about someone’s character (especially a well-known person) by how they treat a random flight attendant. Clarence was an absolute doll.
I do remember how fun it was the day that I taught class at SoulCycle on the Upper East Side, and knowing that Bruce and the E Street guys were playing Meadowlands that week, I played a triple-shot of Springsteen during the ride. A handful of riders were really enthusiastic about the songs, and the whole room was energized by their happiness. Especially ME after class, when that group turned out to be personal friends of Clarence’s (in town for the shows) and they insisted upon giving me tickets to the show that night! It was one of the last shows at the old Giants stadium, and they played Born in the U.S.A. in its entirety – the soundtrack of my college years. I’ll never forget how magical that night was for Sister Mary and me... Thank you sweet soul rider Thea!
One of my favorite Bruce lines is “Will you walk with me out on the wire?” Well, fortunately for all of us, Clarence was willing to fearlessly and passionately walk on that wire at Bruce’s side, which according to Bruce’s statement at Clarence’s death, allowed us all to feel his music on a deeper level, and connect more profoundly with the story in his songs. That is exactly the kind of sentiment that for me, makes SoulCycle a unique sanctuary of physical and spiritual transformation.
If you “get” SoulCycle, you’ll know that’s how I feel about every class… Will you walk with ME out on that wire? Are you willing to fully participate, heart and soul, not just in an exercise class, but in an intensely challenging and self-revealing musical journey? If so, climb aboard. On this train, faith shall be rewarded.
Thank you, Clarence, for helping make the kind of music that moves and inspires all of us to a level of health, fitness and quality-of-life that we would otherwise not have reached. You will be missed, but your music and legacy will live on forever.