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Bruce Springsteen wrote about his friendship with Clarence Clemons in the foreword of “Big Man: Real Life & Tall Tales.’’ Bruce Springsteen wrote about his friendship with Clarence Clemons in the foreword of “Big Man: Real Life & Tall Tales.’’ (Mel Evans/Associated Press/File 2007)
November 27, 2009

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‘They both knew that they would be best friends for a long, long time. Not that they talked about it; it was just there.’’ This is one of many things that Clarence Clemons writes about Bruce Springsteen in his highly entertaining new memoir, “Big Man: Real Life & Tall Tales.’’

The book is, as the title suggests, a combination of styles. It is a personal chronicle of his life as a musician, man, and longtime foil and muse for the Boss. It also delves into his creative side, as he spins half-truths and embellishments and, in some places, outright fiction, in colorful vignettes about the people in his life. Clemons is funny, raw, and insightful in both modes, whether recalling a former girlfriend breaking his heart or encounters with bold-faced names like Muhammad Ali and Robert De Niro. (Clemons claims the latter revealed to him that he stole his “You talkin’ to me?’’ routine in “Taxi Driver’’ from Springsteen.)

Clemons splits writing duties with his good friend Don Reo. A gifted veteran of TV comedy writing and production (“The Golden Girls,’’ “Everybody Hates Chris,’’ “M*A*S*H’’), Reo helps fill in gaps by interviewing Clemons and sharing his side-stage perspective.

Springsteen offers a touching foreword about his abiding friendship with the Big Man, saying even he is still interested in unlocking the alchemy shared by those two guys on the cover of “Born to Run.’’ This book tells part of the story. SARAH RODMAN

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