In the movie Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind, there is a mention about the song oh my darling clementine twice. When they first meet, Joel mentions the song to Clementine when she introduces herself. But in their second meeting in the train, Joel has no idea about the song and Clementine sings the song clearly.

Is it that because during the therapy, Joel tried to remember the song in their first meeting and that was caught by the scanner and deleted? Can we assume that this didn't happen during Clementine's therapy and that is why she can remember this song in their second meeting?

3 Answers 3


As the song is strongly connected to Clementine in the brain of Joel, the song has been erased from his memories during his therapy.

But the song isn't particularly related to Joel for Clementine, because, as she stated, lots of people already sang oh my darling clementine in front of her.

the memory-erasing device deleted the first meeting with Joel from Clementine's head, but not the song.


There's an iconic scene in the movie where Clementine and Joel are taking a bath in the sink (in Joel's memory as a baby), and where his guardian is singing that exact song. This is when Howard finds him off the brain map, and erases that memory to get him back on track. That scene is particularly heart-wrenching, as we see him be drowned in the sink vortex as the memory gets erased, and in the segue scene, he opens his eyes, paralyzed, unable to tell his handlers that he wants the procedure stopped, as Howard gives him an injection to put him back to sleep.

And back to sleep he goes, but not before a tear drops in his left eye.

And that's why his memory of that song is gone for good. A beautiful scene...


There is also another possible explanation: During their meeting at the beginning of the movie Joel is really behaving weird and feels very uneasy - this is a high contrast to his first real meeting with Clementine, when he joked and behaved in relaxed way.

When they meet in the train, he is confused and when the pushy stranger (Clementine) keeps trying to get into his space, he simply pushes her away. So its not as much as that he doesn't know this song anymore but rather attempt to get rid of that girl by quickly exhausting possible topics of conversation.

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