This isn’t the memory that I was going to use today, but after the sad news of Clarence Clemons’ death on Saturday it seemed appropriate to bring this one forward.
The last time I saw Clarence was in June 2008, in Cardiff. My friend Bill had bought tickets to see Bruce Springsteen at the Millennium Stadium and then told me I was going. Which was fine, except that it did mean that I had to hire a car to get there, as I wasn’t going to leave my wife to cope with our eight month old son for any longer than was necessary.
The first interesting thing to happen that day was discovering that, in typically cackhanded fashion, I had not hired the car from the hire place at the bottom of our road (as I thought) but from another, similarly-named, place on the far side of town. Which meant that instead of just strolling down to pick the car up, I actually had to drive (or, rather, be driven) over to get it, thus taking half an hour out of the morning.
I had booked a medium sized hatchback. At my height, anything smaller is a bit uncomfortable, but I didn’t need anything bigger as only I would be in the car. I was therefore somewhat surprised to be given a Peugeot 207 CC.
I’m slightly embarrassed to say that I loved that car. It was fast, quiet and great fun to drive. To the point where I reached Cardiff a lot more quickly than I expected.
Afterwards, I flew home in that little thing, Springsteen blaring through the CD player. I had never, ever, been a fan of sports cars or convertibles, but this one had me hooked. Which was very odd, because I am as interested in cars as I am in the latest cosmetic products – not at all. To me, a car is a metal box with a wheel at each corner and so long as it is reliable and gets me from one place to another without problem then that is good enough for me. But now, for the first time ever, I found myself remembering an event more because of the car that I drove to it in than anything that happened there. Needless to say, I gave myself a swift talking to.
You can read about the show itself here, on the site that got updated a lot more frequently before I had a child. Clarence didn’t do a lot that day, his height and weight were already destroying his knees and back (you’ll note that he’s sitting on a stool in the clip below), but he was such a presence that you couldn’t imagine the band without him. For now, I don’t actually want to think about that, but about the heck of a jam that’ll be going on in heaven now that the Big Man has joined Phantom Dan Federici up there.
This video doesn’t come from the show that I went to, because they didn’t play this song. It is still my favourite Clemons solo, and it starts about four minutes in.