January 11, 2024
Happy Clarence Clemons Day 2024! We remember the Big Man - alive forever in our hearts, of course - on what would have been his 82nd birthday, with something very special from one of his more interesting and offbeat collaborators: California-based psychologist and musician Mark Fromm.
Clarence's work with Mark is one of the best examples of how contemplative, different, and intellectual the Big Man's non-E Street Band endeavors often got. In the early 1990s, while Clarence was on hiatus from working with Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band, Mark connected with him through vocal coach and singer Raz Kennedy. Mark explained to Clarence that he was both a psychologist and a musician, and that he was in the process of creating and recording a unique album that combined both of those interests.
As Mark recently explained to us, "I told Clarence over the phone that I was giving public talks and media appearances as the 'Singing Psychologist' ('Singing Shrink' to my friends,) combining my songs with various life topics, and wanted to make an album about growing up, pursuing one's goals and dreams in any area, and generally doing what's called 'adulting' these days. Even though the title track of the album ended up being called Preparation of the Bridegroom, neither the album nor the title track are focused solely on preparing for a marriage, but more on preparing for adult life in general.
"I invited Clarence to play on one of the album's tracks, 'Keys,' and he readily agreed. As a longtime fan of Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band since the mid-1970s, especially after I first heard that legendary Bottom Line show on WNEW-FM while growing up in the New York City area, this was so exciting. The studio where we recorded was pretty small to begin with, and when he walked in, in person he seemed even 'larger than life' than he already was.
"What made it all even better was just how professional and accommodating he was. He was willing to record many different takes, and try several different approaches to his sax solo, until we got it just right. It's a quality I've noticed in all of the great famous musicians with whom I've had the pleasure of working." Clarence originally was contracted only to play sax on one song, "Keys," but once he got to the studio he ended up adding a bit of a rapping-style vocal to "Keys," as well, and then contributed to the recording of two more tracks that ultimately didn't get included on Preparation of the Bridegroom.
Preparation of the Bridegroom was released officially in 2023 and is currently available on most major streaming services, but to celebrate Clarence Clemons Day 2024, Mark has agreed to share with our readers exclusively a limited-time free download opportunity for a full CD-quality version of "Keys," the Preparation... track featuring Big Man wailing on sax, along with the legendary Maria Muldaur singing with Mark and Clarence. From today through Sunday, January 14, you can click below to download the AIFF file and enjoy the full CD-quality version. Also here, courtesy of Mark Fromm, are the complete credits for the track:
Mark Fromm - lead and background vocals
Clarence Clemons - saxophone, lead vocal
Maria Muldaur - lead and background vocals
Peter Elman - piano and organ
Jeff Stratton - electric guitar
Alex Baum - bass
David Rokeach - drums
Produced by Mark Fromm
Co-produced and engineered by Dennis Criteser
You also can order a full-quality physical CD version of the entire Preparation of the Bridegroom album, directly from Mark Fromm, by sending $18 (shipping and handling included) via PayPal to email@example.com In addition to "Keys," Preparation of the Bridegroom features thirteen more tracks. And in addition to Clarence Clemons and Maria Muldaur, other famous musicians who appear on the album include the late, great Rick Danko of The Band, folk singer and songwriter Eric Andersen, Pete Sears of Hot Tuna and Jefferson Starship, Nora Jones’ lead guitarist Adam Levy, Nina Gerber, Chris Webster, and Jonas Fjeld.
Many thanks to our friend Mark Fromm for making this special free AIFF download opportunity available exclusively to our readers. Happy Clarence Clemons Day 2024, everyone!