Clemons arrived at the Manhattan studio at midnight with his saxophone, not quite sure what to expect. "She came running down the hall," Clemons says. "She was like 'Big Man!' I was like, 'Holy s***, man. Damn!'" Gaga wanted him to play saxophone on her in-progress song "Hair." In a recent interview with Ryan Seacrest, Gaga talked about the song. "It's uptemo, but it's sort of got this Bruce Springsteen vibe to it," she said. "I actually had Clarence Clemons come in. He played saxophone. It's really interesting, because it's putting saxophone on this really huge electronic record." She also gave Seacrest a bit of the lyrics: "Whenever I dress cool my parents put up a fight / And if I'm a hotshot Mom will cut my hair at night / And in the morning I'm shorn of my identity / I scream, "Mom and Dad, why can't I be who I want to be?"
Before Clemons started work on the song, she explained the lyrics to him. "It made so much sense," he says. "It's a story about growing up." She gave him very few instructions about how to play on the song. "She said 'we'll put the tape on and you just play,'" Clemons says. "She said to me, 'Play from your heart. Play what you feel.' It was all very pure."
By 3:00 am, after just a few takes, they were done. "I play sax through the whole song and I have a solo," says Clemons. "I'm surprised I'm getting paid for this. I would have done it for free. I can never believe something that feels so good earns me money." Clemons was a huge Gaga fan before the session, but now he loves her even more. "She's the real deal," he says. "All the craziness and stuff, there's a purpose to all of it. She has no boundaries ... It's a day I'll never forget. I always wait for Bruce to call and say 'come do this' and it's real exciting for me. I never saw this happening, though.'"
Photo by Larry Marano/Getty(Clemmons), James Devaney/WireImage(Gaga)
- Lady Gaga