"Clementine" as written by Elliott Smith....
They're waking you up to close the bar
The street's wet you can tell by the sound of the cars
The bartender's singing clementine
While he's turning around the open sign

Dreadful sorry clementine
Though you're still her man
It seems a long time gone
Maybe the whole thing's wrong

What if she thinks so but just didn't say so?
You drank yourself into slo-mo
Made an angel in the snow
Anything to pass the time

And keep that song out of yr mind
Oh my darling
Oh my darling
Oh my darling clementine

Dreadful sorry clementine

Lyrics submitted by EnjOy IncUbus, edited by Memento22Mori, Jate

"Clementine" as written by Steven P. Smith

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

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Clementine song meanings
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  • +6
    General CommentI think this song is about a man who's completely down on his luck. Sure, he's just lost his girlfriend, but the fact that the bartender is singing "Clementine" leads me to believe that even in his safe haven(the bar) he's unable to escape his dismal thoughts. I also think that the "The street's wet, you can tell by the sound of the cars" alludes to the narrator's inevitable sadness. I don't think that bartender is actually singing; I think that line is more a metaphor to the bartender's acts of closing the bar and general uncaring of Elliott's situation. Not only is he without Clementine but is reminded that the one scapegoat he has (drinking at a bar) is pushing him away now to face the 'wet streets', thus forcing him to think of his loss. Just a thought.
    martingroomson May 12, 2011   Link
  • +3
    General Comment"the street's wet you can tell by the sound of the cars" is a brilliant observational lyric. i can hear the sound of tires on a wet road so clearly when i hear that line.
    indie pretenseon June 24, 2003   Link
  • +2
    General Comment"The street's wet, you can tell by the sound of the cars..."

    It really doesn't get any better than this, does it?
    soupytwiston January 27, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General Commenti love his voice when he sings..
    "what if she thinks so but just didn't say so? "

    oh, its brilliant.
    ilovetrishon July 03, 2004   Link
  • +1
    General CommentIt's so good. I love the tuning, it's something like CGCEAD. That low end sound is so warm and vibrant, it's like liquid gold being poured in your ears. But not hot.

    Relating loosely to the classic folk song Clementine, this is a folk song with a subtly sinister vibe. The lyrics are extremely folky as well as the melody, with an added dark and evil sound from the slack tuning. It's telling a simple story of a man drowning his sorrows in alcohol and ruminating on lost love.

    I believe the lyrics are meant to be taken literally, and some are there simply to lend to imagery and atmosphere. That's how I see it anyhow.

    The imagery in my head is so vivid for this song. Pictures of a corner street windowed pubs, dark orange copper filament street lights cast over the shiny black road, wet under a light drizzle. Lots of deep orange colours for some reason.

    The second line seems to be a favourite of many. Everybody knows the sound of tires streaking and slicking over a wet street. Elliott was great at connecting to his listeners with lyrics pulled deep from his subconscious. Not many people consciously have analyzed this sound, but when you hear the lyric it's like, "hey, yeah Elliott I know that sound, I like it too".

    The things everyone knows, but are never spoken of, for their utter simplicity -

    These things remind us we're all human, and it's like sharing a thought with another mind, which feels like blurring the lines between time and consciousness. It almost feels like sharing a moment, if you're extremely present while listening. It's strange and I can't explain it any better than that.

    He can connect to people through simple, blunt, literal lyrics, or deep metaphors that simply point to a notion or idea. He covered the spectrum, it's brilliant.

    Good job with Clementine though Elliott. He was freakishly talented, in all regards. With instruments, lyrical expression, trademark chord structuring , unique recording techniques, perfectly imperfect vocals; a fragile wounded tenor.

    All of that is showcased in Clementine, and practically all his songs actually. Words will never suffice... He's really, very, super good though.
    junkbondtrader7on January 13, 2016   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis is by far one of my favorite Elliott Smith songs. The way he turns Clementine into something so tragic yet hauntingly beautiful, his voice makes me fall in love.

    "Oh my darling clementine.. Dreadful sorry clementine."
    atarisemokidon March 16, 2003   Link
  • 0
    General Commenta macrabe play on a macrabe folk song--
    the original, about a miner who loses his daughter clementine in a mine shaft accident, has the same lyrics-- 'oh my darling oh my darling clemintine, you are gone and lost forever dreadful sorry clementine."
    emmdithyon October 24, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General Commenti think this song is about being with someone you dont really love but cant admit it because you dont want to hurt them. and how the other person knows that you may not really, truely love them. its sad for both people. you still care about them but you dont really love them.
    nopoeticon December 22, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General Commentthe song is of the regret of past memories/fantasies of what could have been that is only sooth'd by bottles or another's arms.
    SteadySlippinon January 10, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General Commentthis song absolutely gives me the chills. i can unfortunately feel how he felt when writing this song. i think he takes something like clementine and transforms it into something depressing to justr combat the traditional meaning of love songs. elliott was a brilliant man. he will be missed. R.I.P.
    jawstoneon January 22, 2005   Link

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