Clemons, left, with the Boss

What makes a great album?  It’s a delicate balance of artists, songs and those happy accidents of musicianship.  Bruce Springsteen’s Born to Run is a textbook example of how the stars aligned to bring us a once-in-a-lifetime work of art.

If soul can be defined as an instrument, then pay attention to the work of Clarence Clemons.  Cuts like the title track, Meeting Across the River, and the masterful Jungleland would’ve gone down as merely well-crafted songs but Clemons’ saxophone– mournful, poignant, triumphant, primal–elevates and enlivens every cut.   On Born to Run his talent reached its apotheosis, but it didn’t really matter who he was backing; whether the artist was Aretha or Lady Gaga, his sound popped with the excitement of a kid whose hand was always raised in class.   Give the man an A– I doubt we’ll see his likes again.  RIP, and thanks.