Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Video Spotlight - Clarence Clemons & Jackson Browne in "You're a Friend of Mine"



I'm currently reading Clarence Clemons' semi-autobiography from a few years ago (a review should be coming in the next few weeks), and I've had everything Clemons on the mind.  As I tried to find a clip of Clarence guest-starring on My Wife and Kids (which is frequently referred to in the book), I stumbled across this 1985 video which was previously unknown to me.  And, boy oh boy, is it a gem!  I'm not really sure how to put into words how much I love this video, so I'll list a few highlights:

  • It starts off innocently enough, with an infectious 80s beat and Clarence's saxophone solo.  But then, out of nowhere, Clarence starts singing!  It was shocking for this Springsteen die-hard to hear - Clarence's voice will still always be strange to me.
  • The decor is classic "this is the first time I'm making a music video" that has come back to haunt many musicians.  It looks like it was filmed in a hotel room in about 20 minutes.  The background is filled with odd objects seemingly placed there at random: a Victrola, a soccer ball, random picture frames, etc.
  • Daryl Hannah's there!  She seems to be torn between painting Clarence and Jackson, or filming them with a camera that looks like it weighs about 80 pounds.  Also, I'm not convinced she was actually in the room at the time they were shooting this.
  • As for the other participants: Jackson Browne looks very unhappy to be there, the drummer looks ecstatic, and the keyboardist looks jealous of Daryl Hannah's hair
However, Clemons owns this whole video, for many reasons.  First, he reacts to every word in the song as if it were a real conversation.  He hams it up, making large gestures like a Vaudevillian performer.  Furthermore, he is fully committed to the hetero-romance of the song, not being afraid to get as close to Jackson Browne as possible.  This is not a comfortable thing for most men to do (as you can see Jackson squirming to get some personal space); it takes years of being inches away from making out with Bruce to get this naturally close to another man and still be completely comfortable in your sexuality.  Finally, that saxophone, while enormous in any other man's hands, looks like a toy in Clarence's arms.  As he lays down the outro, he swings the sax with wild abandon, and you remember why the E Street Band will never be quite the same again.