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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.