On December 7th, 2010, about 60 lucky Bruce Springsteen fans crammed into the Carousel House on the Asbury Park boardwalk to watch a special live concert of songs from the new Darkness on the Edge of Town box set The Promise. It was the last time Springsteen would play with Clarence Clemons, the E Street Band’s saxophonist. Clemons died in of complications resulting from a stoke in 2011.
The last song the band played was “Blue Christmas” — a sad tune about missing your loved ones at Christmas. Clemons had to sit throughout the show and had been in intense pain for the past few years, but he still played his heart out and gave the performance his all. Appropriately enough, it took place just a couple blocks away from the former location of the Student Prince, which was the bar where Springsteen and Clemons first met 40 years earlier.
On the whole, the show was unlike any in Springsteen history, since it focused nearly entirely on tunes cut from Darkness on the Edge of Town, many of which had never been played live. The E Street Band was joined by guitarist David Lindley and a horn section. A professional camera crew lead by director Thom Zimny shot the entire show, and Springsteen played many of the songs two or even three times to capture the best take. Over the past few days, songs from the show have been appearing on Springsteen’s official YouTube channel. The show ended with Springsteen inviting the fans onstage for a performance of “Blue Christmas.”
This rendition of “Blue Christmas” wasn’t, however, the last time that Clarence Clemons played in public. That took place during the American Idol finale in May 2011 when he played “Edge of Glory” with Lady Gaga. She called him to New York to play on Born This Way with little notice months earlier when she had a couple of songs that needed sax parts.
“She’s the real deal,” Clemons told Rolling Stone. “All the craziness and stuff, there’s a purpose to all of it. She has no boundaries.”
He died just two months after the American Idol performance and every Christmas since then has been a little blue without him.