Tuesday, August 28, 2018

"You're a Friend of Mine" by Clarence Clemons & Jackson Browne

Song#:  2510
Date:  10/26/1985
Debut:  80
Peak:  18
Weeks:  19
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  Clemons, known as the "Big Man" due to his 6'5" stature, became part of Bruce Springsteen's famous E Street Band in 1972. He played sax alongside Springsteen for many years and his work can be heard on such classics as "Born to Run" and "Jungleland." With Springsteen's career in ultra-high gear thanks to the phenomenal success of Born in the U.S.A., the spotlight also turned to E Street members like Clemons. He ended up getting a few other gigs like providing the sax for Aretha Franklin's comeback hit "Freeway of Love." It was with that track that Clemons met with producer/songwriter Narada Michael Walden and a plan was hatched for Clemons to do a solo album. Walden would produce Clemons' album Hero and co-write six of the LP's nine songs including this first single. To add a little star power, rocker Jackson Browne was tapped to be a duet partner for the song. Thanks in part to Browne and the Springsteen connection, the song made the Pop Top 20 while also getting to #16 Rock and #21 AC. The song helped sell a few albums and it got to #62. Unfortunately, it would be Clemons' only single to reach the charts. Clemons would collaborate with Walden for a follow-up album in 1989 titled A Night with Mr. C, but it failed to do anything.

ReduxReview:  This was the right song for Clemons and adding in Browne was a great idea. While Clemons is one helluva sax player, he doesn't have the most attractive singing voice. He's certainly capable, but having Browne there as a good counterpart made the song work. The sentiment is great, the production solid, and Clemons' sax work is impeccable. I appreciate this song now more than when it first came out.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Triple Shot!  1) At the time this song was being recorded, Jackson Browne was dating actress Daryl Hannah. Hannah ended up providing backing vocals on this track and also appeared in the song's associated video. Browne and Hannah would split up later in 1992.  2) This wasn't Clemons' first attempt at a solo career. With his own band called the Red Bank Rockers, he issued out the album Rescue in 1983. While no singles would get any attention, the album did briefly appear the chart at a low #174. Clemons' E Street boss, Bruce Springsteen, would contribute the song "Savin' Up" to the album. Springsteen would also produce the track.  3) Clemons would continue to work with many artists over the years and in 2011 he made contributions to Born this Way, the second album by new pop phenom Lady Gaga. He performed sax on the track "The Edge of Glory," which would be the album's third single. Clemons also would appear in the song's video. Unfortunately, not long after shooting the video, Clemons would suffer a stroke. He would be unable to recover and passed away five days later on June 18, 2011.


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