Sunshine in a Bag vs. the Beat: The Meaning of “Clint Eastwood” by Gorillaz

There are two voices present in “Clint Eastwood” by Gorillaz. There is the passive human, content to be glad (for now) with his bag of sunshine. He feels useless now but believes he’ll be useful in the future. The other voice is the Beat, or the timeless art of music (or any creative expression.) The Beat exists without the need for time or the future.

What he sings:

Ooo ooo ooo ooo
I ain’t happy, I’m feelin’ glad
I got sunshine in a bag

What he means: The passive human is glad but not happy. He accepts his place in the universe as long as he has sunshine in a bag.  Some people believe “sunshine in a bag” is a reference to marijuana in a plastic bag (or any other mind-altering drug.) But the bag symbolizes the lukewarm contentment achieved through purchasing “stuff” like iPads, designer handbags or any consumer product.

What he sings:

I’m useless, but not for long the future is comin’ on,
It’s comin’ on, It’s comin’ on, It’s comin’ on, It’s comin’ on

What he means: At this moment, the human is not concerned about being useless. The future will always exist. Any personal goal can be achieved with enough time. Procrastinators have faith the future will give them time to complete projects. They are rich with time.

What he sings:

Yeah, ha ha!
Finally someone let me outta my cage
Now time for me is nothin’ cuz I’m countin’ no age

What he means: The Beat lives within everything. But it can be trapped in cages (or in our distracted minds while we watch TV, or browse reddit for hours.) The Beat has no fear of dying because it has no age nor any fixed time in existence. The Beat is immortal.

What he sings:

Nah, I couldn’t be there,

now you shouldn’t be scared
I’m good at repairs (s’all simple),

and I’m under each snare
Intangible (aww dawg),

I bet you didn’t think so I command you to
Panoramic view (you?)

What he means: Writing a song or creating any piece of art can be a frightening experience. Many people doubt their artistic talents. They fear their art will just expose them as hacks. The Beat is trying to reassure these doubters that the music exists in every beat of the drum. Music can repair what keeps you unhappy. Music will not break you. It will set you free. The Beat encourages you to look at the world without limitations (take in all 360 degrees. Embrace what can be achieved through artistic creation.

What he sings:

Look I’ll make it all manageable
Pick and choose (hmph),
Sit and lose,
All you different crews
Chicks and dudes,
So who you think is really kickin’ tunes?
Picture you gettin’ down in tha picture tube,
Like you lit the fuse

What he means: Music will not magically appear. People create songs. It’s not an impossible task. You just pick and choose the instruments, the notes, the lyrics or whatever and create something. It can be done. You just need to light your artistic fuse.

What he sings:

You think it’s fictional?
Mystical? maybe
Spiritual?
Hero who
Appears in you to clear your view (yeah) when you’re too crazy

What he means: Most people fantasize about writing a song or achieving any personal goal. But many never attempt these goals because they fear it’s too difficult. The Beat reassures us that we can achieve our personal goals and become the hero we always envisioned.

What he sings:

Lifeless,
to know the definition for what life is
Priceless,
To you because I put you on the hype shit

What he means: The Beat offers unlimited possibilities. Unlike your bags of sunshine, there is no price tag on the Beat, therefore, it can’t be easily purchased at your local Best Buy.

What he sings:

You like it? Gun smokin’
Righteous with one toke and
Psychic among those,
Possess you with one go

What he means: Has the Beat convinced you, yet? Get out there with guns blazing and focus your mind on achieving this dream.

What he sings:

The essence, the basics,
Without that you make it
Allow me to make this
child-like-in-nature.
Rhythm, you have it or you don’t
That’s a fallacy.
I’m in them, every sprouting tree,
every child of peace, every cloud and sea.

What he means: Music is not something you have or don’t have. It exists in all of us. We can find inspiration in all parts of nature, and from that, we can create timeless rhythms.

What he sings:

You see with your mind,
you see destruction and demise
Corruption in disguise(that’s right)
From this fuckin’ enterprise,

What he means: Your eyes collect information and send it to your brain for processing. But these external visuals can be misleading. Your mind can see past the consumer products we buy that do more harm than good.

What he sings:

Now I’m sucked into your lives
Through Russel not his muscles but percussion he provides
With me as a (say what) guise
Y’all can see me now cuz you don’t see with your eyes
You perceive with your mind
That’s the inner (fuck em)

What he means: Rather than rely on the ticking clock of time, Gorillaz exist through Russel’s beat (Russel Hobbs is Gorillaz’s drummer and percussionist) and the immortal magic of music. The Gorilaz create music around Russel’s beat. Their music reveals an inner truths about the universe.

What he sings:

Bust a few rhymes (mmm mmmm) so mother fuckers remember
What the thought is
I brought all this, so you can survive when law is lawless (right here)
Feelings, sensations that you thought was dead (yup)
No squealing, remember that it’s all in your head

What he means: Gorillaz create music and thoughts from their minds. The passive human should stop relying on the future and start embracing the power of your mind. You may find it’s substantially more powerful than you first thought.

What he sings:

I ain’t happy, I’m feelin glad
I got sunshine in a bag
I’m useless, but not for long the future is comin’ on

I ain’t happy, I’ m feelin’ glad
I got sunshine in a bag
I’m useless, but not for long my future is comin’ on
it’s comin’ on it’s comin’ on it’s comin’ on it’s comin’ on
My future is comin’ on,
it’s comin’ on, it’s comin’ on, it’s comin’ on, it’s comin’ on
My future is comin’ on,
it’s comin’ on, it’s comin’ on, it’s comin’ on, it’s comin’ on
My future is comin’ on,
it’s comin’ on, it’s comin’ on,
My future is comin’ on,
it’s comin’ on, it’s comin’ on,
My future is comin’ on,
it’s comin’ on, it’s comin’ on,
My future

What he means: Rather than wait for the future to take you to a happy place, follow the Beat’s advice. Take control over your own future.

BONUS INTERPRETATION: Why is the song called Clint Eastwood?

The title may be a reference to how the person, Clint Eastwood, battles his mortality. Rather than be satisfied with growing old and letting time take control over his body, Clint Eastwood has never stopped creating art. Directing movies takes time and energy.  Clint could just relax with his personal wealth rather than worrying about film locations or storyboards. Clint is 82-years-old and continues to produce art because it makes him happy. Eventually, he will cease to exist as a human. However, the beat of his art will exist long after the beat of his heart.

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