Photo of Bruce Springsteen Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images.
NEW YORK - In 1974 Bruce Springsteen was an emerging talent on the local New Jersey music scene just starting to perform a new song, “Born to Run.” With two albums under his belt and a third about to come out, Springsteen was fast earning a reputation for staging impressively long and lively shows, with “Born to Run” frequently appearing on the set list. The single helped garner both attention and respect amongst fans and critics and made waves before the official release of the album Born to Run in the fall of 1975. Since then, Springsteen has performed “Born to Run” on every major tour. His legions of fans anxiously await the opening chords and famous sax riff that open Springsteen’s first worldwide release and biggest hit to date. The lyrics of the song, meticulously crafted in his small home in Long Branch, New Jersey, epitomize the dreams of the downtrodden yet endlessly hopeful young Americans who have come to adore Springsteen for generations.
Bruce Springsteen, working draft manuscript of “Born to Run.” Estimate: $70,000 – 100,000.
While Springsteen’s lyrics are able to make brighter the light at the end of the tunnel for the hapless and star-crossed, of equal importance are his grandiose musical arrangements. What helped distinguished Springsteen from his contemporaries at the beginning of his career was his right hand man, Clarence “the Big Man” Clemons. Springsteen and Clemons started playing together in Asbury Park, New Jersey in 1971, and had a storied lifelong friendship. With Clemons as his second in command, Springsteen captured the drama of a Broadway musical and the raucousness of a rock n’ roll show at the same time. Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band have earned their spot in the American musical pantheon because of the magical combination of Springsteen’s writing talents and energetic stage presence and Clemons’ sonorous solos. While his riff in “Jungleland” is considered his signature performance, the opening bars and subsequent momentum of “Born to Run” are Clemons at his finest. Without help from “The Minister of Soul,” who knows if Springsteen would have reached such epic levels of international success.
The Boss and the Big Man continued playing together for almost 40 years. In 2011, Clemons passed away from complications of a stroke. His nephew Jake Clemons replaced him as tenor saxophonist on Springsteen’s recent Wrecking Ball Tour. In his eulogy, Springsteen asked, “How big was the Big Man? Too big to die.”