Our Top 10 Clarence Clemons songs list looks back at the solo songs of one of rock and roll’s most loved saxophone players of all time. And sady, one of the most dearly missed. The big man really needs no introduction to anyone who has been following rock and roll music for the past fifty years. Since the 1970s, Clarence Clemons stood to the right of Bruce Springsteen as his musical brother and dear friend. The sound of Clarence Clemons’ playing was a huge part of Bruce Springsteen’s sound all through the Glory Days. From his emotional breathtaking solo in “Jungleland,” to those iconic solos in songs like “Born To Run,” “Badlands,” and hundreds others, the Clarence Clemons saxophone sound was unmistakable and is forever enshrined in rock and roll history.
Like fellow E Street Band members Danny Federici and Steven Van Zandt, Clarence Clemons released a few solos albums throughout his time with Bruce Springsteen. However unlike Steven Van Zandt, Danny and Clarence Clemons never quit the E.Street Band while they released solo albums. Their solo work were merely side projects. Clarence Clemons would release five solo albums between the years 1983 and 1995. His first solo album titled Rescue was released under the name Clarence Clemons & the Red Bank Rockers in 1983. His next three albums would be issued just under the Clarence Clemons name. Those albums would include Hero in 1985, A Night With Mr. C in 1989 and Peacemaker in 1995. Additionally in 1995 he would release an album with Aja Kim called Aja and the Big Man.
Clarence Clemons may not have had many hits from his solo albums but he did celebrate a pretty big hit single entitled “You’re A Friend Of Mine,” that he recorded with Jackson Browne on Clemons’ solo album Hero. Outside of his solo work and career with Bruce Springsteen, Clarence Clemons was a very much sought after musician. His sound was so distinct that many artists wanted to capture it on their own recordings. Clemons recorded with a long list of artists including Aretha Franklin, Gloria Estefan, Greg Lake, Twisted Sister, The Four Tops, Joe Cocker and so many more. He also appeared in many acting roles in film and on television. The man celebrated life. Life celebrated Clarence Clemons
Our Top 10 Clarence Clemons songs list pays tribute to the songs he released on his solo albums as we pick out ten of our favorites.
# 10 – A Woman’s Got The Power
We thought it was fitting to open up our top 10 Clarence Clemons songs list with a high-spirited song from his first solo album entitled “A Woman’s Got The Power.” Many fans choose Clarence Clemons’ first solo album called Rescue as their favorite. The album is filled with great r&b style rockers that echoed the sound of the 1960s Jersey Shore in which Bruce Springsteen, Southside Johnny, Steven Van Zandt all grew up with. The song featured the great Wilson Pickett style vocals of John “J.T.” Bowen.
# 9 – Spirit Dance
Continuing with our top 10 Clarence Clemons songs list we take a listen to the song “Spirit Dance.” This is a very different sounding song from the one that we opened up this list with. “Spirit Dance,” was released on the album Peacemaker. The album was released in 1995. The entire album is made up of instrumentals. This is the musical spiritual side of Clarence Clemons and we thought it was important to showcase it on our Clarence Clemons songs list.
# 8 – Shotgun
In the number eight spot on our top 10 Clarence Clemons songs list we present the song entitled “Shotgun.” Clarence Clemons sings lead vocals on this track. He sounds a little like the way Walter Becker used to sing on this one. “Shotgun,” was released on the album A Night With Mister C. The album was an exploration of that big 80s r&b sound that proved popular for many artists during the time period. It kind of fell somewhere in between the sounds of Prince and Aretha Franklin. You can even hear Clarence Clemons says the words “Good Good,” which was a common term Prince and Sheila E used to use. Jesse Johnson who was the guitarist in the Time plays on the track.
# 7 – Rock ‘N’ Roll DJ
In the number seven position on our top 10 Clarence Clemons songs list is the driving thunderous song entitled “Rock ‘N’ Roll DJ.” Clarence Clemons’ first album was just so darn good. This was one of the scorching rockers from the album that we just couldn’t leave of this list. If you don’t have the Rescue album, we highly recommend it. The band is on fire on this stunning debut solo album by the wonderful Clarence Clemons. We love how Clarence Clemons played a dj on the radio at the end of the song. The man was a performer in so many aspects of the word.
# 6 – Temptation
Landing in the number six spot on our top 10 Clarence Clemons songs list we present the raging song entitled “Temptation.” Listen to Booker. T play those keys. Clarence blows hard right from the start on this hard rockin grooving song that is simply to die for. This is great stuff baby. The lick that Clarence came up with on this song is totally captivating. He doubles his vocal and knocks this one across the hall to soulville. The song “Temptation,” was released on the Hero album in 1985.
# 5 – Fatha John
At the halfway point on our top 10 Clarence Clemons songs list is the song entitled “Fatha John.” The song appears on the two live Clarence Clemons albums that were released under the name Clarence Clemons and The Temple of Soul. The recordings were done Live In Asbury Park New Jersey. This is driving piece of music that seemed to be a favorite of Clarence’s. The album was released in 2002. The second part of the series was released in 2004 in which the song also appeared on that recording. The song “Fatha John,” was written by Clarence Clemons and John Colby.
# 4 – Saving Up
You just knew we had to get a Bruce Springsteen song in here somewhere and so in the number four spot on our top 10 Clarence Clemons songs list we present the stirring song entitled “Savin Up.” The song was released on the album entitled Rescue. Springsteen wrote so many great songs that he never recorded himself and this is one of them. The lead vocal was performed by John “J.T.” Bowen.
# 3 – I Wanna Be You Hero
Moving along on our top 10 Clarence Clemons songs list we present the jubilant song entitled “I Wanna Be Your Hero.” The song was released on the grand album Hero released in 1985. The song was written by Clarence Clemons, Jeffrey Cohen, Preston Glass and Narada Michael Walden. “I Wanna Be Your Hero.” served as the follow up single to “Your A Friend Of Mine.” It had that same spirit fueled by elements of r&b, pop, and rock and roll. It all worked so perfectly.
# 2 – Jump Start My Heart
Groove never sounded so good than on this killer tune entitled “Jump Start My Heart.” Its takes a while for Clarance to make his entrance but when he does, the walls come tumbling down baby. This is a smoking track that is pretty much timeless. The song was released on the solo debut album by Clarence Clemons entitled Rescue. The song was written by Desmond Child, Ellie Greenwich and Jeff Kent.
# 1 – You’re a Friend of Mine
We close out our top 10 Clarence Clemons songs list with the exhilarating song entitled “You’re A Friend Of Mine.” This was just one of those songs that everyone loved. We have never heard Clarence sings as well as he did on this track. Narada Michael Walden kills it on the drums and Jackson Browne simply plays the perfect friend in so many ways on the track. Also featured on the backing vocals of the chorus was Jackson Browne’s at the time girlfriend Darryl Hannah. The song was released on the album entitled Hero. The album was released in 1983. It was the first single released from the album. The song was a hit on the US Billboard Hot 100 peaking at number eighteen. Truly one of the most enjoyable songs and videos of that mid 1980s period.
Top 10 Clarence Clemons Solo Songs article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2021
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