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Donald Fagen: guitar tab and chords for Miss Marlene, Sunken Condos

Miss Marlene - Donald Fagen

From the album "Sunken Condos"

Transcribed/arranged by Howard Wright
hakwright (at) gmail (dot) com

So, another effortlessly groovy Donald Fagen song! This has some great
harmonies, some great brass and woodwind parts and an unusually fluid bass
part that uses rising phrases that hit the main bass note on the second
beat of the bar. 

The verse and chorus of the song are driven along by the Rhodes part which 
is based on some simple triads in the right hand, but the overall effect 
(emphasised by some of the brass/woodwind) is one of shifting quartal "stack 
of 4ths" harmonies, with the bass part suggesting m7 and other chords.

The intro section (also used for the guitar solo section) features some classic
Fagen/Steely Dan chord shapes that may be familiar.

All chords and tab written above the corresponding lyrics.
All guitar chord shapes listed at the bottom.


Db/Eb   D/G   F#/B   Db/Gb   A/D 

Db/Eb   D/G   F#/B


The verse is based around two chords, but there's a little triad riff in the
main keyboard part (and later in the brass section) that gives the basic 
two-chord sequence more movement and gives the verse much of its character.
This triad figure continues (with some variations) throughout much of the song.

It's not too hard to play the basic chords on guitar and work in the triad riffs
as well into a single part, but you might prefer to just play the basic chord
changes. So I've transcribed the sequence of main chord shapes for the whole
song (follow the chord names), and in some sections I've also transcribed the 
triad riffs as guitar tab.

One other comment: the verse is based on two chords F/G and Eb/F, but the bass
part emphasises C for the second chord, giving an overall Cm7 harmony (Eb/C). 
I've transcribed this chord as a simple Cm7 (8x888x) as this seems to better 
capture the overall sound, but you could play Cm7add4 (88888x) if you prefer.

Triad riff: 

(chords that reflect overall harmony written above, additional bass 
notes written in brackets in the tab)

    F/G                  Cm7           F/G                  Cm7

(repeat above sequence once for intro; triad riff continues throughout verse)

                 F/G    Cm7             F/G   Cm7
Back in double O se  -  ven Miss M was queen     

                      F/G   Cm7                       F/G   Cm7
She could roll like a pro   rolls when she was seventeen     

                    F/G    Cm7                        F/G   Cm7
Whether straight or hamm - ered she was the best in town     

                     F/G   Cm7                        F/G   Cm7
When she release the red   ball all the pins fall down 


Note: bass notes for the second line of the "triad riff" are
written in brackets in the tab and are optional (much easier 
to play the riff by not playing the notes on the bottom E string).

(Cm7)                    Eb/F         F/G


Canít you hear the balls rum     -     ble?  

                         F/Eb           G/F         F/Eb


Canít you hear the balls rum  -  ble?                Miss

    Cm11            Bb/Eb         Eb/Ab     F/G    Cm7
Marlene weíre still bowling every Saturday night 

         F/G    Cm7
Saturday night 

(the triad riff from the verse comes in again with the F/G Cm7 chords)

Verse 2:

(Chords/triad riff as Verse 1)

Your move to the lane child 
Played on my heartstrings 
With the long skinny legs child 
And your hoop earrings 

When the stakes were sky-high 
Thatís when you'd always shine 
The ball would ride a moonbeam 
Down the inside line 


Canít you hear the balls rumble? 
Canít you hear the balls rumble? 
Miss Marlene, weíre still bowling every Saturday night 
Saturday night 


Note: there's another variant of the triad riff over the C#6/9 harmony
below which uses a classic "stack of 4ths" type chord, moved up and then 
back down a semitone (the chord actually has a 3rd interval on top of the
stacked 4ths). Use the Fm7add4 shape for this (see chord shapes at the end) 
starting on F, moving up to F# then back to F. Or for a simpler "overall 
harmony" approach, just play the C#6/9 shape (yes theory freaks: add a C# 
bass note to Fm7add4 and you get C#6/9)

There are also some nice options on the guitar for using a sequence of
different chord shapes for some of the chords below (e.g. Am9, C#m9).
See the chord shapes at the end for details.

    Am9       D7#9#5
And then, one night 

          C#6/9    C#m9
Something came apart 

                  C#m9       F#13
You were throwin' back hurricanes 

And we knew someone 

    Am6/9            Cm6/9   D7#9
Had played with your heart 

Verse 3

(shorter then previous verses)

You ran into the dark street 
At University Place 
The cab came up so fast then
We saw your laughin' face 


Canít you hear the balls rumble? 
Canít you hear the balls rumble? 
Miss Marlene, weíre still bowling every Saturday night 

(note: no repeat of "Saturday night" at the end)


Chords almost the same as the intro section

Db/Eb  D/G  F#/B  Db/Gb  Dmaj7b5

Db/Eb  D/G  F#/B  Dm7

Another triad-riff variant is played over the Dm7 chord:


Verse 4

(short verse)

Sometimes on a league night 
I catch her scent again 
Her hand guiding my hand 
We drop the seven-ten 


                         Eb/F    F/G
Canít you hear the balls rum  -  ble? 

                         F/Eb    G/F    
Canít you hear the balls rum  -  ble?

F/Eb     Cm11            Bb/Eb         Eb/Ab    F/G    Cm7
Miss Marlene weíre still bowling every Saturday night 

Saturday night


(Verse triad riff continues over the Cm7 F/G Cm7 sequence)

Bb/Eb    Eb/Ab    F/G    Cm7   F/G
   Every Saturday night 

Bb/Eb    Eb/Ab    F/G    Cm7   F/G
   Every Saturday night 

Bb/Eb    Eb/Ab    F/G    Cm7   F/G
   Every Saturday night 

Chord shapes

EADGBE      EADGBE      EADGBE      E A D  G  B E      E A D G B  E  
xx1121      3xx232      x24322      x 9 11 10 9 9      x x 0 9 10 9

Db/Eb        D/G         F#/B          Db/Gb               A/D 

E  A  D  G  B  E      EADGBE      EADGBE      E  A  D  G  B  E
x  10 10 10 10 x      8x888x      x8888x      11 x  10 10 10 x

     F/G               Cm7         Eb/F            F/Eb

E  A  D  G  B  E      EADGBE      EADGBE      EADGBE  
13 x  12 12 12 x      8x886x      x68766      xx6886
      G/F              Cm11        Bb/Eb      Eb/Ab

x05557      x05500      x54566      9x889x      x88898

 Am9         Am9        D7#9#5      C#6/9       Fm7add4

For the Am9 chord at the start of the bridge, I like to use both
these shapes, giving some extra movement in the harmony that's
present in the Fender Rhodes keyboard part.

Similarly, for the C#m9 chords below that come slightly later,
use of the first two suggested shapes gives a gentle downwards 
movement in the harmony. 

x4x440      x4244x      

 C#m9        C#m9

Alternatively, you can get a more ellaborate descending sequence for the C#m9
section that's very close to the keyboard part by playing these three chords 
in sequence (bass note C# implied in the first two chords)

x x 13 13 12 0    xx9890    x4244x

   C#m9            C#m9      C#m9

EADGBE      EADGBE      EADGBE      E  A  D  G  B  E 
2x234x      x2112x      5xx577      8  x  x  8  10 10

F#13         B6/9       Am6/9             Cm6/9        

For the m6/9 shapes you could also have the root note on the D string and
use xx7577 and x x 10 8 10 10

E  A  D  G  B  E      E  A  D  G  B  E      E  A  D  G  B  E
10 12 x  11 13 13     10 x  11 11 9  x      10 x  10 10 10 x

      D7#9                Dmaj7b5                 Dm7

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Last updated: July 2020