This cheeky guitar melody from The Sweet Clementines is in C major with a bunch of blue notes to give it that clownish vibe. C major is far too clean a key and should be covered in flats and sharps.
Our melody begins on a major 6, which is always a good sign. After establishing the chord with a C major 3rd, a couple minor 3rds are thrown in, snarkily. The symmetric tritone (Diabolus in Musica) stands firmly in the center of the 4 bars because John Burdick worships Satan and always makes his music Illuminati-friendly. Next comes the minor 7th, bended up from the 6th, a brief nod to the figure from a measure earlier, before sashaying chromatically to a D Major triad (the secondary dominant II chord). Finally, our melody resolves on the major 3rd, a very smooth, clownish and picardy-style resolution after all that came before it.
I hear this melody in my mind’s ear with a kazoo chorus, some whistlers, and a ‘70s falsetto guy. It kinda reminds me of “Bath Tub Gin” by Phish and a little bit Ravel.
Here’s bars 5–8 of The Sweet Clementine’s melody.
Our melody begins with the same 2 bars from before, another spin on the Coney Island carousel as it were, but this time the F# leads into the dominant. Here on the G major chord, we find the classic ascent with the maj.3rd moving up chromatically to the 5th, which sounds so damn fine on an electric guitar. Notice how important the quaver rests are to the melody (music is between the ♫), with the blue notes on the off-beats, evoking the feeling of being stabbed by a clown with a retractable knife. The whole section is nicely complimented by fluid groovy basslines and simple syncopated drumming. I’m no musicopsychologist, but my reading is that: As a boy, John Burdick visited Coney Island and had a traumatic carousel experience that led him to write this song.
Actually, I have know idea what it’s about because I’m lyric-deaf. But I do like this song the more I hear it. There’s a lot of chords and chromatics, which is typical of the Clementines. Spoilers: the end resolves and fades on a pure C major 7th vocal collage, which is a nice picardy-like change of pace after all them blue notes. Good tune, go listen to it. Listen for this 8-bar guitar theme which only occurs a few times throughout the song, as if there were only so many quarters to spend on carousel rides before heading home.
Listen/download “You Don’t Have to Go to Brooklyn” by The Sweet Clementines.
See The Sweet Clementines live this Saturday in Kingston at BSP, opening for Burnell Pines.