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Saturday Fluffernutter: Danny Federici – 1950 – 2008

April 19th, 2008

Three days after Warren Zevon passed away in 2003 Bruce Springsteen opened his Toronto Skydome show with the song My Ride’s Here. Standing centre-stage accompanied only by violinist Suzie Tyrell on his left and keyboardist Danny Federici playing accordion on his right, Springsteen paid tribute to an old friend, and began the best of six Springsteen shows I have seen. Two days ago, Federici himself succumbed to cancer. The last Springsteen show I saw occured last October, a mere month before Federici would leave the E-Street Band to pursue treatment for his melanoma.

Federici was with Springsteen almost from the beginning, making his first E-Street Band appearance on Springsteen’s 2nd release, 1973’s The Wild, The Innocent and the E Street Shuffle. He would spend the better part of the next 35 years playing organ, and occasional accordion, with them. But he turns up before that, in an earlier Springsteen band called Steel Mill

From BruceSpringsteen.com:

“Danny and I worked together for 40 years – he was the most wonderfully fluid keyboard player and a pure natural musician. I loved him very much…we grew up together.”
—Bruce Springsteen

Springsteen also has a video up of the last Federici performance, on March 20, 2008 in Indianapolis:

E Street Band keyboardist Danny Federici treated Indianapolis fans to a special appearance at Conseco Fieldhouse on March 20th. Danny’s performance was a profound expression of the healing power of music and community, all the more poignant in light of his death just a few weeks later. Here, from the Indie show, is an excerpt from one of Danny’s signature accordion performances on the rarely-played Sandy.


One of my favourite Springsteen moments, a video of him playing Fire at an acoustic benefit put on by Neil Young for The Bridge, “a San Fransisco – based program that would make available vocal computers for severely handicapped children who otherwise had no way of speaking.” (Glory Days, page 443). It is Springsteen on guitar and singing, Nils Lofgren on guitar and Federici on accordion:

RIP Danny Federici, and thanks for the memories.

I was staying at the Marriott
With Jesus and John Wayne
I was waiting for a chariot
They were waiting for a train
The sky was full of carrion
“I’ll take the mazuma”
Said Jesus to Marion
“That’s the 3:10 to Yuma
My ride’s here
My ride’s here
My ride’s here
My ride’s here”

The Houston sky was changeless
We galloped through bluebonnets
I was wrestling with an angel
You were working on a sonnet
You said, “I believe the seraphim
Will gather up my pinto
And carry us away, Jim
Across the San Jacinto
My ride’s here
My ride’s here
My ride’s here
My ride’s here”

Shelley and Keats were out in the street
And even Lord Byron was leaving for Greece
While back at the Hilton, last but not least
Milton was holding his sides
Saying, “You bravos had better be
ready to fight
Or we’ll never get out of East Texas tonight
The trail is long and the river is wide
And my ride’s here
My ride’s here
My ride’s here
My ride’s here”

I was staying at the Westin
I was playing to a draw
When in walked Charlton Heston
With the Tablets of the Law
He said, “It’s still the Greatest Story”
I said, “Man, I’d like to stay
But I’m bound for glory
I’m on my way
My ride’s here
My ride’s here
My ride’s here
My ride’s here
My ride’s here
My ride’s here
My ride’s here
My ride’s here

Fluffernutter, RIP, Springsteen is still Boss

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