You're A Friend Of Mine

Album: Hero (1985)
Charted: 18
  • songfacts ®
  • Lyrics
  • Written by Narada Michael Walden (who also produced the track) and Jeffrey Cohen, this ebullient duet between Clarence Clemons and Jackson Browne is a testament to long-lasting friendship. Clemons was already well known as the saxophonist in Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band – with wailing solos on "Born To Run" and "Jungleland," among others – but decided to try a solo effort while The Boss was still riding high from the massive success of Born in the U.S.A. The move paid off with two hit singles: "You're A Friend Of Mine" and "I Wanna Be Your Hero."
  • Clemons played sax on another Walden and Cohen collaboration: Aretha Franklin's "Freeway of Love," a #3 hit earlier in the year.
  • Clemons and Browne really were friends – they met years earlier when Browne did a show with Springsteen. "Doing 'You're a Friend of Mine' was such a thrill for me to be asked," Browne told Rolling Stone in 2011, shortly after Clemons' death from stroke-related complications. "It probably wasn't a song that was appropriate to have Bruce on. Maybe that would've been too obvious. But I was happy to be on that record."
  • Walden also built a strong friendship with Clemons. "I never cried when he passed because his presence is so strong with me," Walden explained in a 2012 interview. "I can talk to him at all times. Even now."
  • Actress Daryl Hannah, who was dating Browne at the time, provides backing vocals and appears in the music video. The clip features Clemons and Browne jamming in a living room, with the help of Walden on drums, while Hannah relaxes on the sofa and occasionally films the guys with a camcorder.
  • This was used in the 1987 pilot episode of the sitcom My Two Dads, starring Paul Reiser and Greg Evigan as two old friends who reunite to raise a daughter who may or may not belong to one of them.
  • The WWF (World Wrestling Federation) used this in a 1986 montage depicting the feud between rival wrestlers "Rowdy" Roddy Piper and "Ace" Cowboy Bob Orton.
  • This was the biggest solo hit from a member of the E Street Band. Two years earlier, the group's guitarist/mandolinist Steven Van Zandt hit #63 on the Hot 100 with "Forever" (as Little Steven). Before he joined E Street in 1984, guitarist Nils Lofgren bubbled under at #109 with the 1981 single "Night Fades Away."
Please sign in or register to post comments.


Be the first to comment...

Steely DanFact or Fiction

Did they really trade their guitarist to The Doobie Brothers? Are they named after something naughty? And what's up with the band name?

Pete AndersonSongwriter Interviews

Pete produced Dwight Yoakam, Michelle Shocked, Meat Puppets, and a very memorable track for Roy Orbison.

Goodbye, Hello: Ten Farewell Tour Fake-OutsSong Writing

The 10 biggest "retirement tours" that didn't take.

Crystal WatersSongwriter Interviews

Waters tells the "Gypsy Woman" story, shares some of her songwriting insights, and explains how Dennis Rodman ended up on one of her songs.

Tom Keifer of CinderellaSongwriter Interviews

Tom talks about the evolution of Cinderella's songs through their first three albums, and how he writes as a solo artist.

Joe JacksonSongwriter Interviews

Joe talks about the challenges of of making a Duke Ellington tribute album, and tells the stories behind some of his hits.