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Clarinet Waltz

“Clarinet Waltz” is a real anomaly in the Weezer canon. It stands in the COR as the 15th song Rivers Cuomo wrote in 1994, after a remarkable stretch that began with “Tired of Sex,” “Susanne,” “Waiting On You” and “Getchoo,” included the highly desired and as-yet-unreleased Cuomo cover of the Beach Boys’ classic “Surfer Girl,” and a long succession of other unsurfaced tracks with some of the most intriguing titles in the unheard demo collection: “I Can’t Break Your Heart Slow,” “Sonia, Sonia” and “Oh God I’m Hungry” to name a few.

That mysterious sequence is broken by “Clarinet Waltz,” which we have – but it’s still a bit of a head-scratcher. First of all, it’s the rare case of a Cuomo instrumental — and then the fact that it’s all clarinet and piano, two instruments rarely used in Weezer arrangements (the only other times that combo’s been used are “Longtime Sunshine” and “Across the Sea”). Close analysis reveals the song is being taped live (it sounds like there might even be a bit of applause at the end, suggesting a small crowd), so who’s playing the piano is beyond me. Cuomo’s on clarinet, if Wikipedia is to be believed — the entry also notes that this song was released via Weezer’s official site, though how and when (and with what explanation), I’m not sure.

Either way, I quite like it. It’s an understated little 120 seconds, but it’s got an honest and forlorn charm. It may very well be a part of the small progression of instrumentals Cuomo was cranking out back then, bookended by the late 1993 “Victory on the Hill,” and the early 1995 “Defeat on the Hill” — both unheard by fans, and both, as the Recording History notes, “all trumpet originals.” So (at least?) three instrumentals, dated 1993, 1994, and 1995 — at least two of which we know are thematically related, and all of which primarily feature instruments that have rarely (if ever) been heard before in Weezer recordings.

Either way, “Waltz” is just another strange and rewarding experiment in Cuomo’s most adventurous period of songwriting. Perhaps a reader can offer up some more extensive details about song’s origins.

19 Comments

  1. Jonny wrote:

    I know I’ve heard it a while back, but don’t seem to have it in my library anymore. Can it be found on Weerez.com maybe?

    Monday, October 13, 2008 at 8:08 am | Permalink
  2. tsarczar wrote:

    Not sure, but I seem to remember he released this through the COR. I wish he would release an update to the COR. I get something new out of it everytime I look at it.

    Monday, October 13, 2008 at 9:08 am | Permalink
  3. Martin wrote:

    Well, and I’m just going from memory here, I believe that Cuomo got that clarinet in the winter and used Clarinet Waltz as an opportunity to rehearse the clarinet while he was back home for Christmas. If that’s true, I would assume that Beverly (his mother) is on piano with him and they’re playing to their Christmas party guests. Rivers also wrote a ton of songs when he ‘went home for Christmas that winter’ as karl puts it. Yeah, among these are “quite a crop!” (Rec Hist), including WOY, TOS, Getchoo, Longtime Sunshine, etc.

    It’s a beautiful tune.

    Monday, October 13, 2008 at 10:43 am | Permalink
  4. Yellowcamaro wrote:

    Wow, that was a hell of a spell of writing. Its a nice little song but I’m more interested in his Beach Boys covers and what info do we have on these??

    Monday, October 13, 2008 at 11:29 am | Permalink
  5. MyNameIsJason wrote:

    can someone give me the link to the COR? i have misplaced that link thing.

    And Clarinet Waltz is cool and all, but I don’t think it’s anything really special.

    Monday, October 13, 2008 at 7:17 pm | Permalink
  6. Martin wrote:

    Pointless side note: I always saw Clarinet Waltz as a segway to Longtime Sunshine. I think you said they were the only two to combine them and I always wondered if Clarinet Waltz evolved into Longtime Sunshine in some way.

    Tuesday, October 14, 2008 at 9:29 am | Permalink
  7. Yellowcamaro wrote:

    Oh how I wish that album existed Soyrev – I’m putting all my hopes on ‘odds and ends.’ I know i shouldn’t but i just can’t help my self.

    Tuesday, October 14, 2008 at 12:18 pm | Permalink
  8. MyNameIsJason wrote:

    thanks agoodflyingbird for that COR link.

    can i still call you agoodflyingbird? it makes me feel like an OG when i do.

    Thursday, October 16, 2008 at 12:36 am | Permalink
  9. Chuck wrote:

    SOYREV: Odds and Ends? Did I miss a memo?

    Tuesday, October 21, 2008 at 8:17 pm | Permalink
  10. Soyrev wrote:

    Yes. It’s Weezer’s imagination-free title for a supposedly forthcoming demos/outtakes compendium that the band first mentioned during the KROQ breakfast back in early September. Karl maintains that it’s “on the horizon.” For an idea of the content, think Alone but for full-band tracks…If/when it happens, I’m willing to bet Brian Bell’s beloved “Love Is The Answer” will be on there.

    Tuesday, October 21, 2008 at 8:25 pm | Permalink
  11. Chuck wrote:

    Another Brian Bell masterpiece!!!!11111!!!!! Is it my birthday?

    Wednesday, October 22, 2008 at 1:30 pm | Permalink
  12. Chuck wrote:

    FYI: About Surfer Girl.

    Karl: It’s excellent. While nothing really compares to a Brian Wilson production, the Rivers demo is delightfully crunchy and Weezer-ish. I kinda prefer it to the original. That may be my nostalgia over the time and place it was made though

    (via popularsounds.blogspot.com

    Wednesday, October 22, 2008 at 1:37 pm | Permalink
  13. Soyrev wrote:

    No, “Love Is The Answer” is by Rivers. Brian Bell just really loved it and wanted it on the album badly (considering other songs he’s fought for recently — “Miss Sweeney,” “The Other Way” — I’m willing to take his word on it).

    Wednesday, October 22, 2008 at 1:39 pm | Permalink
  14. Chuck wrote:

    The Other Way….err……….

    “I want to help you
    But I dont know how
    I want to soothe you
    But I can’t speak out.”

    Genius Rivers, Genius.

    Wednesday, October 22, 2008 at 5:23 pm | Permalink
  15. waitingandwaiting wrote:

    this song really suits a cold winters night. I listened to all of alone and various leaked demo’s last night, including this and it got me reminiscing of when i downloaded all the early demos from weezernation and took my first step on being a hardcore fan. I’m so happy I started with the early stuff and not the mala demo’s.

    Friday, November 13, 2009 at 10:31 am | Permalink
  16. Yim_yecker wrote:

    This is beautiful.

    Friday, May 18, 2012 at 5:22 pm | Permalink
  17. Yim_yecker wrote:

    Sounds a bit like parts of “The Christmas Song”

    Wednesday, May 23, 2012 at 1:02 pm | Permalink
  18. Soyrev wrote:

    Interesting, where do you hear that?

    Friday, June 15, 2012 at 1:25 am | Permalink
  19. Yim_yecker wrote:

    Well, they’re both in 3/4, and the melodies (“you told me you would be there by my side”) match.

    Wednesday, June 20, 2012 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

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