In the wake of Clarence Clemons’s untimely death, Bruce Springsteen’s The River popped up in the used bin of my local record store’s sidewalk sale.  Of course, the purchase was impossible to pass up. 

 In honor of the legendary saxophone player, the album has been racking up spins and digital run-throughs on my various music players for the past few days. 

  It’s obvious that Springsteen is an icon in the popular music world and that The River is one of his most exceptional releases.  The singer has had profound influence on some of my favorite young bands today– The Hold Steady, Titus Andronicus, The Gaslight Anthem, etc.– for his ability to represent lives of working class Americans (among other things) through lyrically-driven songs and stories.  Everybody knows (or should know, at least) about Bruce, his music, and his influence.

  What’s even more remarkable about The River is the fact that, despite back-up by the immensely talented E Street Band, only Bruce’s name is featured on the front.  No disrespect to The Boss, of course, the man has amazing singer-songwriting abilities and deserves credit for all of his achievements and creations.  However, with the recent passing of saxophonist Clarence Clemons, it’s worth paying homage to the people behind the scenes of many of Springsteen’s hits.

  A great example of the E Street Band’s versatile talent is Steven Van Zandt, one of the most talented living guitarists.  He’s also a gifted actor, as he proved through his role as Silvio Dante on The Sopranos.  He’s also the man behind one of Sirius/XM’s best radio stations, Underground Garage.

As far as the E Street drummer goes, many younger folks might know Max Weinberg best for his witty contributions as Conan O’Brien’s sidekick.  While it was clear that Weinberg had drumming chops on Late Night, it’s even more evident in his work with the E Street Band.  Like Van Zandt, it’s impressive that such a talented musician can transition so effortlessly to television.  Perhaps that’s why Springsteen shows are so entertaining…

  And, finally, there’s The Big Man.  Musicians around the world have been paying their respects to Clarence Clemons since his passing on June 18th of this year, and by doing so they’re honoring one of the best rock n’ roll saxophonists ever.  Like his fellow E Street Band members, Clemons also built up acting credits throughout his lifetime, appearing in various films and TV shows such as HBO’s The Wire and (most notably, in my humble, low-brow opinion) the 1989 comedy classic Bill And Ted’s Excellent Adventure.  His latest collaboration was with Lady Gaga on her recently released album Born This Way

  If you’re at all a fan of Bruce Springsteen, or even if you’ve been a casual music listener at some point throughout the past forty years, all of this info is probably incredibly obvious.  Still, it seemed as if paying respect to one of the greatest bands in American music history (in the days following the death of one of its most talented members) was necessary. 

  If you’ve got a copy, listen to The River at some point soon.  It’s almost impossible for timeless classics to disappoint.

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