Darkness on the edge of the E Street Band

Federici and Springsteen“Danny sends his best,” Hall of Fame rocker Bruce Springsteen said at the beginning of his concert in St. Paul last month, “and he hopes to be back with us later in the tour.”

But you had the feeling it was a comment borne more of hope than reality.

And, mostly, it was. On Thursday, Danny Federici, 58, who goes as far back with Springsteen as a non-blood relative can, died of skin cancer.

Says the Times:

Mr. Federici and Mr. Lopez started their own band and invited Mr. Springsteen to become a member. “This skinny guy with long hair and a ratty T-shirt was an incredible guitar player and a good singer, so we asked him to join,” Mr. Federici once said.

One of the most compelling tributes to Federici, was written by local blogger Mitch Berg, on his blog “Shot in the Dark.”

I’m no music expert, to be sure, so I am fascinated by the reminder of the extent to which a note soars above a word.

Chris Phillips, editor of the North Carolina-based Backstreets, a Springsteen fanzine, said Federici added to the mystique of the band.

“I’ve been listening to the live version of “You’re Missing,’ ” Phillips said, “and it’s a fine example of Max (Weinberg) hits the snare and Bruce points it over to Danny. And it’s not that anything jawbreakingly technical is going on, but those notes Danny plays say as much or more than the lyrics. Sometimes he would bring that Jersey Shore sunshine part of the song, or maybe even some circus tones, but his music also was haunting at times, bringing in a whole different color to a song.

A video of Federici’s last appearance with Springsteen — four days after the St. Paul concert — is on the Springsteen Web site.