57 Channels (and nothin’ on) Clarence Clemons: Who Do I Think I Am

Clarence Clemons: Who Do I Think I Am paints a portrait of an artist of many facets. It presents a side of Clemons not many saw or knew. It’s an intimate description of a man who searched for enlightenment and meaning.

“Believe it or not, there was life before Bruce”

This biography starts, as it should, at the beginning, talking with family and a childhood friend. We learn about his first bands and then, of course, the legendary (mythic) story about the formation of the E Street Band.

During the 90s, as the E Street Band were disbanded (among Springsteen fans commonly known as “the dark years”), Clemons divided his time and talent between Ringo Starr’s All Starr Band, his own solo work and acting jobs.

As the Rising Tour came to an end in 2003, Clemons felt like he needed a break. He then packed up his saxophone and voyaged to China, a place where not only he wasn’t recognised by the locals, but they didn’t even know who Bruce Springsteen was. In China Clemons began a spiritual exploration.

“To find yourself you have to know yourself” – Clarence Clemons

Sadly, Clemons passed away during the making of the film, changing its intended purpose [which was the film’s intended purpose?] into a journey throughout his life and that makes the film feel more of an eulogy than I had expected.

One cool thing about the film is that all the archive footage are presented in colour whereas the current interviews, with friends, family, colleagues, and Clarence himself, are in black and white. Again, questions are raised. Why is the film presented that way?

I definitely recommend fans of Clarence Clemons and Bruce Springsteen to see this film. However, although it had beautiful moments, parts of it are a bit slow and mellow and although there were many contributors to the film (Nils Lofgren, Vini Lopez, old childhood friends, Temple of Soul band members, Bill Clinton and family members (including Jake Clemons)), the absence of Springsteen from any participation in the film save for an ending card with a quote from him, seems a bit odd.

“Losing Clarence was like losing the rain” – Bruce Springsteen –

During the credits, appropriatley, Nils Lofgren’s Miss you “C” is played. The song was written in tribute to Clarence Clemons. Originally though, the song was a tribute to Ray Charles called “Thank You Ray,” but after Clemons passed away, Lofgren reworked it.

One comment

  1. Great review.
    Maybe the filmmaker wanted the people seeing Clarence Clemons as an individual and not as the Big Man who’s standing next to Scooter.
    And I remember that Bill Clinton is a hobby-saxophonist.

    Greetings from Vienna, AT.

    Liked by 1 person

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