BEA 2009 rocked and rolled Thursday evening for about 700 BEA attendees, as legendary rock stars Clarence Clemons, a member of Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band, and Steven Tyler, frontman for Aerosmith, visited Javits, taking turns sitting down with author Chuck Klosterman to talk about their lives, their music, and, of course—this being BEA—their books. Grand Central Publishing is releasing Clemons’s memoir, Big Man: Real Life & Tall Tales (written with Clemons’s “best friend” Don Reo) in October. HarperCollins/Ecco is releasing Tyler’s memoir, Does the Noise in My Head Bother You?: A Rock ’n’ Roll Memoir, sometime this fall, with Tyler disclosing during the evening that the book “isn’t finished” and he’s “not sure” when it actually will be released.
Clemons, interviewed by PW before he went on stage with Klosterman, admitted that, although he’s performed before huge crowds in large venues thousands of times over the past 30 years, he was “pretty nervous” appearing before booksellers, sedate and well-behaved though they might be, in the relatively intimate environs of Javits’s Special Events Hall. “It’s an interesting venture to be without the sax,” Clemons said. “I brought my sax just in case. If I get too nervous, I’ll let the sax do the talking.”
But, Clemons added, he’s looking forward to going to bookstores on a still-to-be-scheduled national tour to “meet people,” talk about his life and play a little music, with the 16-hour original version of his “Jungleland” jazz solo compressed into half an hour for his appearances.
While he doesn’t expect to promote the book while on tour with Springsteen, Clemons hopes that Springsteen will talk up Big Man to his legions of fans during performances. “I’d appreciate it,” Clemons said, describing Springsteen, who’s blurbing Big Man, as having “loved” the book.
Later, on stage with Klosterman, Clemons opened up about his life and times with “The Boss,” saying Springsteen offstage really is like the public persona he’s created on stage. “For his music to be real, he has to live that life. He’s the boss of his own world,” Clemons said, disclosing that he and the rest of the band really do call Springsteen “The Boss” offstage, while Springsteen in turn refers to Clemons as “The Big Man.”
“Because I am,” Clemons insisted, before taking out his sax and playing “Jungleland” riffs for the appreciative crowd, while explaining the evolution of the song during a marathon jam session, when Springsteen sought to find words for the feeling evoked by Clemons’s sax playing.
Clemons might be the “Big Man,” but Tyler was larger than life as he strutted on stage in true rock star fashion, accompanied by fellow musician Mark Hudson, who sported a multihued beard. Aerosmith fans in the audience rushed the stage, snapping photos, as the two took their seats. During an alternately witty, ribald and intellectual conversation with Klosterman that touched on everything from his schedule while on tour and the primacy of music in his life and in the very essence of his being to the metaphysics of orgasms, Tyler revealed a reflective side of himself that fans don’t often see.
Tyler started to write Does the Noise in My Head Bother You? during a “time off” period after his mother died last summer, he told Klosterman. “If there was a time to do it, last summer was it,” he explained. “I want the voice in me to be heard,” he said. “There’s a side of me that sees the world a lot differently than other people do,” ascribing it to such things as having read Grimm’s Fairy Tales when he was five years old, having immigrant parents or keeping a raccoon as a pet as a child in the Bronx.
"I’ve lived this life. I’ve seen things. I’ve felt things,” he said. “I think anyone who’s seen me on stage is going to relate to [Does the Noise in My Head Bother You?].”
Click here for more BookExpo America 2009 coverage from PW.