A Cautious Man
April 20, 2008
Sunday Night Springsteen
The other day, we heard of the death of an original member of the E Street Band, Danny Federici. I heard it Friday morning, before heading for the train. I dialed through the Ipod my kids got me for Christmas, which they had thoughtfully loaded with “The Wild, The Innocent, And The E Street Shuffle”. I listened as Danny’s fingers danced across the keys of his accordion - longingly on “Fourth of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)”, and playfully on “Wild Billy’s Circus Story” – and again across the keys of his Hammond Organ on songs such as “Incident” and “Rosalita”.

He was truly an “original” member, since he was one of the guys who asked Bruce Springsteen to join their band in those now-legendary days of the New Jersey shore music scene. The New York Times has not one, but two obituaries for him. There’s the first, perfunctory one from news releases, and the one the next day from music critic Jon Pareles, who must have recognized that this passing deserved a little more reflection.

Someone let me know if the term “irony” covers the fact that Mr. Federici succumbed to melanoma – it wasn’t drugs or violence which claimed the first deceased member of our favorite band, but the sun.

So, for this Sunday, some video of Danny in action. First, Danny Federici’s last performance, a guest appearance on the current tour, which his illness made him unable to continue (from the Bruce Springsteen website) –

A complete performance of “Sandy”, from the 1978 show broadcast on the radio from the Capitol Theater, Passaic, NJ – the video has great shots of Danny swinging with his accordion.

And, just because this clip captures a sense of the fun these guys must have had together, a performance of “Fire”, with Danny on one side of Springsteen, with his accordion, and Nils Lofgren on the other, on guitar, and all three of them mugging it up.

[Edited on April 21] From Dr. Alterman, I see that Mr. Federici's family has set up the Danny Federici Melanoma Fund, which is "dedicated to the research and development of new and effective treatments for melanoma through funding for additional clinical trials based upon Danny's melanoma treatments and other methods headed by Dr. Paul Chapman [at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center]. Our other objective is to raise awareness for this aggressive disease."



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