Gorillaz – “Clint Eastwood” Lyrics Meaning

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Written By Brendan Briggs

Brendan is a multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, and producer. In 2022, he released his first album "Dive" under the name "Arctotherium".

“Clint Eastwood” is a song about having your eyes opened to the true nature of reality. The lyrics, which involve Gorillaz lore, focus on comparing the ego and the universal spirit in life. Due to the constant references to ego death and mysticality, many have interpreted this track to have psychedelic undertones. Regardless, the major theme is about reaching a higher state of consciousness – an awakening, if you will.

The song drew inspiration from a number of places, the most notable of which is the Clint Eastwood film The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. Pieces of the movie soundtrack can be heard on “Clint Eastwood.” Del the Funky Homo Sapien wrote the verses in about thirty minutes on short notice, and the combination of his rapping and Damon Albarn’s songwriting created the piece we know today.

In this article, we’ll perform an analysis of these gutsy lyrics to decipher their hidden meaning. We’ll also take a look at the songwriting story and universal themes that give the song its staying power. Without further ado, let’s dive in!

“Clint Eastwood” Lyrics Meaning

The track starts with a chorus, which comes from virtual band member 2-D. He explains that he “ain’t happy” and is “feeling glad” at the same time. This is explained better in the next lines. He has “sunshine in a bag” (happiness stored for later), so he’s confident he won’t feel “useless” for long. Once the bag is opened, “the future” will come and erase his dissatisfaction.

The line about “sunshine in a bag” is a reference to The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. In it, Eastwood’s character refers to a bag of money in this way. It’s meant to symbolize packaged happiness in some form, and many have speculated that it represents drugs.

In the first verse, Del the Funky Homo Sapien hijacks the track, happy to be let out of his “cage.” This line requires an understanding of Gorillaz lore to fully appreciate. Del is actually a spirit that emerges from the band’s drummer, Russel. The “cage” here is Russel’s individual consciousness, and Del is now free.

Although we know who the rapper is in real life, the spirit has not identified himself in the song yet. He begins talking about how limitless he is – time “is nothing” for him. He’s unthreatening and tells us we “shouldn’t be scared.” The picture he paints of himself is that he’s present “under each snare,” which means he is the force behind musical creation.

He continues his confident self-praise, noting that he is “intangible.” After showing that he is too complex for us to understand, he promises to “make it all manageable” for us. As an illustration of what he is, he points to the “chicks and dudes” who make music. The spirit claims that he is the real source behind their creations. Sarcastically, he asks who we “really think is kickin’ tunes.”

He then calls himself a “spiritual hero” who clears our minds when we are “too crazy.” Simply put, he is a force that is bigger than us and all of our egocentric concerns. This is why he is “priceless” to us. He can also be activated with “one toke,” which may be a literal drug reference or a symbolic comparison.

Verse one was an introduction to this spirit. After a chorus break, verse two picks up where verse one left off. In it, the spirit will fully identify himself and expose the whole truth of reality.

The spirit cuts to “the essence” of the issue by focusing on rhythm. He teaches that this type of rhythm can be developed with effort and that it is inside everyone. It’s important to note that the spirit uses the pronoun “I” immediately after talking about rhythm. He has finally given us his name.

The spirit of rhythm is in “every sprouting tree” and “every child of peace.” He is universal and is not limited to one ego. Because he can see everything, he sees the “destruction,” “demise,” and “corruption” in the world just as much as the life force.

However, he has to return to the “lies” of the ego “through Russel.” Basically, he’s arguing that everything against nature is caused by the ego suffocating the spirit. Why does this happen? Because we get wrapped up in our subjective perception and do not “see with our eye.”

The end of the verse is essentially a goodbye from the spirit of rhythm. He promises to “stick around” Russel as a “mentor” and hopes we will hear his message. If so, we can survive when “law is lawless” (when chaos and injustice rule) by killing our own egos.

His final words are a chilling reminder that “it’s all in your head,” which has multiple meanings. For one, the solution to the world’s problems is within us. On the dark side, the demands of the ego are created in our minds, which is problematic. The spirit leaves us to decide which we will follow and exits before the final chorus.

To sum up, “Clint Eastwood” is to be taken as a message from a greater force than our own wills. The message is that we should embrace nature, creativity, and objectivity. The playful, aggressive tone paired with such mystical content gives the track a noticeable impact.

The Story Behind “Clint Eastwood”

The principal songwriter for this track was Damon Albarn, who had recorded demos of the song long before its final version. Apparently, the beat for “Clint Eastwood” came from a default preset to the Suzuki Omnichord, which Albarn decided to run with.

Once he’d added the other elements (melodica, samples, strings, synths, and chorus), the decision was made to bring in a rapper for the verses. According to Del the Funky Homo Sapien, other artists had already delivered verses for the track prior to his contribution.

In about thirty minutes, Del created the iconic verses based on a vague explanation of the concept. Once they were laid down, Del didn’t think much of it and was surprised to learn of the song’s success later. He originally became involved with the project due to his interest in the concept artwork, and he still maintains that the music video is cooler than the song.

“Clint Eastwood” put Gorillaz on the map and was a smash hit commercially and critically. It charted at #57 on the Billboard Top 100 and has sold millions of copies worldwide. It was also featured in the 2014 film, The Invisible Boy. When fans think of Gorillaz, this song is always in the conversation.

The next time you play this powerful groove, let these little bits of music history make it even more special!