GIG TALES: "The Moose"
PUB, Culver City CA, circa 1993.
by Jon Dunmore ©

Clarence Clemons does a mean Bruce impersonation - and I do mean "mean."

I met The Big Man in a small pub in Culver City. He was a friend of a guitarist whom I was working with. After a rehearsal, this guitarist asks me, "Do you want to come have a drink with me and Clarence Clemons?" Having no plans to meet anyone more famous that night, I accepted.

My first impression was that The Big Man… wasn't really all that big (but then you have to remember that Bruce is just a dwarf dressed to look like an earthy rock troubadour). It was an intimate gathering - only Clemons, his girl, the guitarist and me - and we got rolling, laughing crazy on each other's war stories, of which Clarence's were by far the bitterest, thereby also making them the best.

This was that time in history when the E Street Band were separated from Bruce Springsteen. Yes, it seems like a blasphemous utterance, but even KISS spent 13 years out of makeup. Mistakes happen. And Clarence didn't like it - not one little bit. He spent the night regaling us with crude complaints, rude remarks and lewd impersonations - all pertaining to his former boss - THE Boss: doing the "storytelling" voice ("Back in mah home town, mah momma yewsta saydamee…"); doing the deep knee-bends, head down and outstretched palm thrown heavenward; busting hilarious, disparaging jokes like:

Q: "What's the difference between a moose and the E Street Band?"
A: "A moose has the horns in front and the asshole at the back."
… For all you Bruce aficionados - yes, he was mocking your god. His derision was indicative of the consensus of the E Street Band at that ambiguous time in history - Springsteen was their LEAST favorite ex-employer.

[In a related incident, in 2004, I met another E Streeter, but under less auspicious circumstances (Steven van Zandt, Springsteen's guitarist and, more recently, consiglieri Sylvio Dante on The Sopranos): I was in rehearsals with Nancy Sinatra, as her Lighting Director, in preparation for a European jaunt. Little Steven makes an impromptu visit to one of these rehearsals and, as Fate and the Gods Of Embarrassment would have it, I happened to be wearing my Sopranos t-shirt. If I had known him well, it would have been a good in-joke, but since that was our very first meeting, and knowing how detestable fan-worship looks from stars' points of view, even though I was in a position of certifiable authority as Ms. Sinatra's LD, I couldn't help feeling like a tosspot as I shook his hand, saying apologetically, "By the way, man - this t-shirt - pure coincidence!" He laughed it off and wasn't really paying attention to me, but I think he was officially not paying attention to me BECAUSE of that damnable t-shirt. Ooh - my dick feels so small…Marketers kick my ass inadvertently!]

What makes my Clemons encounter such a noteworthy anecdote, is the fact that when Bruce came a-calling in 1995 for The Reunion, there was The Big Man himself during their televised Reunion gigs, sax in hand, fake smile plastered over his soul, doing the White Man Bop ("Toby be GOOD, Massa!") - onstage once more in his well-worn Reverse Moose Position, for which he obviously had no more complaints, since his wallet and ego were being fed phat.

What Price, Honor, Clarence? Oh, What Price, Honor?...


Added: 2005, Jul 10