Clarence Clemons and Jackson Browne’s ‘You’re a Friend of Mine,’ from 1985 to 2020

you're a friend of mine

The cover of the Clarence Clemons/Jackson Browne single, “You’re a Friend of Mine.”

Today marks the 78th anniversary of the birth of Clarence Clemons, and last night, at a concert honoring him at The Headliner in Neptune, his son Jarod and nephew Jake sang his 1985 hit duet with Jackson Browne, “You’re a Friend of Mine.” You can watch a video of the performance below.

The infectious, upbeat song, co-written by Michael Narada Walden and Jeffrey Cohen, was included on Clemons’ 1985 album Hero and was the highest-charting single ever by an E Street Band member, rising to No. 18 on Billboard’s singles chart. Bruce Springsteen has never sung it in public excerpt at Clemons’ 2011 funeral, at which he, Browne and surviving members of the E Street Band performed it.

There have been many different versions of it, over the years. Here are videos of some of them, in chronological order. (Thanks to Mark Krajnak for alerting me to his new one of Jake and Jarod!)

Here is the original video by Clemons and Browne. Actress Daryl Hannah, Browne’s girlfriend at the time and a backing vocalist on the song, is in the video, as is co-writer Walden, who is playing drums.

In 1986, Whitney Houston and her cousin, Dionne Warwick, sang the song together on the television show, “Solid Gold.”

In 1989, Clemons toured as a member of Ringo Starr’s first All Starr Band. He performed a great version of the song with Billy Preston — also a member of the band — on the tour.

Clemons included his Temple of Soul band’s version on their 2004 album, Live in Asbury Park, Vol. II, recorded in 2001 at the Stone Pony’s outdoor stage.

Clemons performs the song with a young collaborator named Raechel Rosen at the Hard Rock Cafe in New York.

The first half of this video shows Clemons’ Red Bank Rockers bandmate J.T. Bowen performing the song with the Sensational Soul Cruisers at the Wonder Bar in Asbury Park.

Clemons’ son Nick has also performed the song; here he is, doing so with JoBonanno & the Godsons of Soul at a Light of Day concert at the Stone Pony.

Jake Clemons, who replaced his uncle in the E Street Band, has been singing his own low-key version of the song at his own concerts for years.

Here is Jarod Clemons singing the song at Danny Clinch’s Transparent in Asbury Park.

And here is the new one, featuring Jake and Jarod at The Headliner in Neptune on Jan. 11, 2020:


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