“Clementine” is a song on Cool’s fourth album. “Sorrow” (애상) was the title of that album and was widely popular. Cool is a three-person group that debuted in 1994 and is known for a series of successful pop and dance songs. Although Cool as a unit has not been active since its last album (2009), Cool is one of the most well-known Kpop bands with its instantly recognizable summery tunes and ballads featuring Lee Jae-hoon’s vocals.
I never saw Cool perform “Clementine” on television. When artists released albums, they usually selected one or two songs that they were going to publicize. For this reason, listening to every song contained in an album was difficult in the pre-Web or pre-digital singles era unless one purchased the album. “Clementine” was not a title song. I did not own the album but I was able to listen to it often at the hagwon (tutoring center) that I was attending. The young administrative assistant used to play music over the public announcement system before class. It was never loud enough to be heard by parents, but we the kids could hear it clearly. Because of this memory, when I listen to “Clementine” and other non-title tracks from Cool’s fourth album, I am reminded of the hagwon hallways, chalkboards, mint-colored desks, and kids piling in and out of classrooms. “Clementine,” however, has nothing to do with tutoring center furniture. In the song, the narrator grows nostalgic of his childhood when he lived happily with his fisherman father by the sea. His house was a tiny one but he had an entire ocean to dream and stories to share with his good old father.
Besides “Clementine” there are other songs from this album that I associate with hagwon furniture and youth. I’ll introduce them as songs of the day at a later time.