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On music and memories

In the interest of full disclosure - I am not a particularly big Bruce Springsteen fan. Never even been to a concert, which I have heard repeatedly are second to none. Yes I like his music. Turn it up loud in the car. Sing along. I mean, Springsteen and his E-Street band turned out some Rock and Roll anthems. Born to Run. Born in the USA. Glory Days. Thunder Road. 10th Avenue Freezeout.But I don't have any true direct connection. And I know plenty of others who are huge fans of the man, his band and the music. Yet this past Saturday night I found myself melancholy because of the passing of Clarence Clemons. Clarence Clemons. He played in a band I enjoyed. Nothing more. Nothing less.But maybe it is something more. Maybe it's because ever since high school, Christmas wasn't Christmas until I heard Springsteen call out Clarence Clemons on stage and pour out "Santa Claus is Coming to Town." "You guys know what time of year it is? What time, huh? What? Oh, Christmas time! You guys all been good and practicing real hard? Clarence, you been rehearsing real hard now, so Santa'll bring you a new saxophone? Everybody out there been good, or what? Oh, that's not many, not many, you guys are in trouble out here!"Maybe it's because of the affinity I have for my brother, who is a particularly big fan.Or maybe it's because, like so many sports stars, Clemons, Springsteen and the E-Street band connect me to a certain time and place.I came to appreciate Springsteen because of how he tied me to Christmas. Along the way, I became a bigger and bigger fan. But they weren't my band. Not my favorite. But they were there during so much of my life.And Clemons was there playing the saxophone. Not exactly a rock and roll staple. But so powerful.To this day the most chilling/thrilling national anthem I have ever heard came before the 49ers first-ever home NCAA soccer game back in the early '90's up on their old game field. A man and his saxophone. That was it. That was all it had to be.So let's see. Clarence Clemons is somehow intertwined between soccer, Christmas, my brother and growing up. A few of my favorite things.I close my eyes, and hear his saxophone and it immediately conjures wonderful images. Sports can have that same effect. You remember the people, the players, the moments. The smells and the sounds. The crack of the bat. The squeak of the soles. Whatever your sport, it has its own sights and sounds.Those games can forever tie you to a time and place.You can remember playing or watching – the rush you felt just before the crowd stormed the court. The thrill that exploded within when you saw the ball in the back of the net. The thoughts that made your hair stand on end as the starting lineups were announced. The joy you felt when you tasted victory or the pain you ached in defeat.It’s what makes sports, like music, so powerful. The two have a lot in common – music and sports – and it all flows from the fact that they can touch us to our very core.

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