Saturday Songwriting: Under the Boardwalk

Each of songs on Rolling Stones list begs the question, what makes it so great? Why is this song in the top 500, not another one? I imagine some of the answer has to do with longevity, legacy, and historical import. But Rolling Stone never seems to mention any of that. 


With number 489 we arrive at The Drifter’s Under the Boardwalk. written by Arthur Resnick and Kenny Young. Topside in the song everything is sunny and family oriented. But that’s only half of what the narrator sings about.   

A cool bit that I didn’t fit onto the sheet is how the song changes key.  

On the boardwalk, during the verses and pre-chorus the song is in sunny G major. When it gets to the chorus, talking about what’s going on just beneath everyone’s feet it switches to E minor.  

G major and E minor share the same chords. Spelled out by BEAD Guides Chord Flow they are: 

F#dim Bm Em Am D G C.  

So how are you supposed to know what key it uses in each part? The short answer is the chorus is focused around the E note, and the Em chord. 

The longer answer is a lot of determining which key a song, (or a song part), is in comes down to feel: Does this part of the song feel most at home on a g note (or the G chord)? Or does it feel more at home on a e note (or the Em chord)? 

To me the song feels most at home during the verses and pre-chorus with g. When the Chorus starts, it feels more at home with e and E minor. The verse has a brighter major feel. The chorus is a little darker, like it’s in the shade of the G chord’s sunny boardwalk.

The Prompt:

Here’s a link to Jeremy Hush’s Art. Find out more about Jeremy’s work here.

The Musical Idea:

Here’s a downloadable pdf of the worksheet above:

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