This weekend, our culture lost two sidemen. Two sidemen that may have been small parts of a bigger machine, but were integral to that machine’s distinct existence. First and foremost was the loss of Clarence Clemmons, the infamous sax man from the E Street band. Usually, a sax player is a last second thought and is only thrown into the song to add texture. But Clemmons added more than flavor. He added melody…he added a unique sound that didn’t just enhance Bruce’s gritty songwriting, it elevated his songs to another level. Clemmons sax solos in Bruce’s songs are as memorable as the songs themselves…and many times…they are the reason they are memorable.
Ryan Dunn may not have been as integral to the show Jackass…but his input added a certain camaraderie. As a friend of Bam’s, they fed off each other, and created pacing and tone that turned stupid idiots doing stupid idiotic things into an art form on par with Looney Tunes and the physical comedy of the silent movie era. Jackass may not be the Bruce Springsteen of our generation…but when their movies outgross all the other movies at the box office they’re definitely impacting our society.
You may wonder why I would include Ryan Dunn (from Jackass) in a memorial for Clarence Clemmons. The better question is why am I using them to preview a best of songs for Bon Iver. Justin Vernon took a few months in a cabin and released Bon Iver’s debut…considered of the most important albums of the past decade. He instantly became one of the most used sidemen in the business. He had multiple side projects (Gayngs, Volcano Choir, Anais Mitchell), made appearances in the unlikeliest of places (Eau Claire High School Jazz Band, S. Carey, Kayne West) and even dropped in to be a part of the Twilight Soundtrack craze. In our society, sometimes front men get all the credit. It’s not that they don’t deserve credit but many of them could not have done it without a supporting staff. Kayne’s latest album uses Justin Vernon through-out it, creating a pace, a tone, and elevating it to his best release to date. Kayne should get most of the credit…but even the best can’t do it alone. Maybe that’s why Vernon hired himself a band this time around.
Here are the 11 Best Songs By Bon Iver:
1. Skinny Love (For Emma, Forever Ago)
2. Blindsided (For Emma, Forever Ago)
3. For Emma (For Emma, Forever Ago)
4. Bruised Orange (Broken Hearts and Dirty Windows)
5. Flume (For Emma, Forever Ago)
6. Bracket, WI (Dark Was The Night)
7. Creature Fear (For Emma, Forever Ago)
8. Blood Bank (Blood Bank)
9. Come Talk To Me (7-inch split with Peter Gabriel)
10. Re: Stacks (For Emma, Forever Ago)
11. Wisconsin (For Emma Bonus Track)
Buy Bon Iver’s new self-titled album now!!!