Clint Eastwood is the fifth track on Gorillaz' 2001 album "Gorillaz", as well as the first proper Gorillaz single. The song is named after the actor of the same name due to its similarity to the theme music of The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.
In Rise of the Ogre, the song is claimed as Gorillaz' big signature tune. A huge smash initially in the UK, where it remained in the charts for months and the top 10 for weeks.
At around the same time radio in Europe also went mad for the song. Slightly later in 2001 the song would also become a massive radio hit in the US and central and South America. Bigger than his previous smash, Song 2 (with Blur), this song remains one of Damon Albarn's biggest hits (it's popularity beaten only by Feel Good Inc.).
In the UK, the Ed Case Refix actually got far more airplay than the regular verson due to the popularity of UK Garage at the time, resulting in the inclusion of said remix on the debut LP. B-side Dracula was probably the best of the off cuts from the 'Gorillaz' sessions and most popular Phase 1 B-side track. British hip hop group Phi Life Cypher also contributed providing rap and vocals both to the original version of Clint Eastwood, later released on G-Sides and at the live BRIT Awards performace.
Because of legal issues that Damon Albarn had with Del The Funky Homosapien, his rapping parts could not be used during live performances, and so various rappers have contributed different raps to the song, including Phi Life Cypher themselves, De La Soul with Bootie Brown or Jamal Grey in Demon Detour, Tinie Tempah (Johnathan Ross Show), Snoop Dogg (Glastonbury), Bashy & Kano (Escape to Plastic Beach World Tour), and Eslam Jawaad (Damascus). However, after both Del and Damon sorted out their problems, in most recent shows the original rap has been used again.
Real life backstory
The foundation of the song is based around a preset produced by the Suzuki Omnichord OM-300 called Rock 1. It’s original demos were recorded by Albarn using a drum machine and a guitar, with similar demos being, re-recorded into Logic as a backing track.
The original rap was done by Phi-Life Cypher and planned to keep that as the album version. However, Dan the Automator insisted that a different rapper be used instead, and courted Del The Funky Homosapien (who he was working with on Deltron 3030 at the time) as the guest rapper. Del was initially hesitant and only agreed to record his It after being shown the band’s artwork and recognizing Jamie Hewlett’s art style from Tank Girl (a comic he collected as a teenager). Using techniques he learned from reading “How To Write a Hit Song”, he wrote and recorded his verses for the song. It was considered superior and stuck as the album version, quickly becoming one of the band’s biggest hits.
The strings featured in the song are from a string machine, the Solina String Ensemble. According to engineer, Jason Cox, "Damon gave us the OK to set fire to it on stage, but we said 'No, you can't set fire to that! It's a classic!", and it ended up being used on the song as well as some other tracks on the album. The drums are provided by a drum machine and the main instrument used in the song is the melodica, which Albarn used to make the basic track as well.
Virtual band backstory
2-D also claimed he had a cold when he did the vocals but still really worked.
Murdoc jokingly said that when he did the song he just pushed the reggae setting button on his Honda Z-Chord autoharp, turned the knob from 'flop' to 'hit' and popped out the song.
The original recording featured Murdoc signing "colourless, atonal vocals", but Dan the Automator, the producer of the album, suggested the song could be improved by replacing his sections with a rap.
Such suggestion seemed to trigger a ghostly summoning which shook all of Kong, and Del's phantom erupted from Russel's head and sang his own lines while Russel was sent to a coma. Russel later claimed that Del transformed the whole sound.
After finishing the song, they called it 'Clint Eastwood' because it had a "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly" feel to the melodica line. 2-D also said that because of its dub feel, it was a tip of the hat to all 1970's reggae stars who used names like that.
1. Clint Eastwood (Edit)
2. Clint Eastwood (Ed Case Refix)
4. Clint Eastwood (Video)
1. Clint Eastwood (Edit)
2. Clint Eastwood (Ed Case Refix Edit)
A. Clint Eastwood (Album Version)
B1. Clint Eastwood (Ed Case Refix)
B2. Clint Eastwood (Phi Life Cypher Version)
Release dates and chart positions
UK : 05/03/01 – highest chart position: 3
- AUS : 07/05/01 – highest chart position: unknown
USA: 26/03/01 - highest chart position: 57
List of officially released versions
- Original full length version (5:39) - on 12" single, Gorillaz and The Singles Collection 2001-2011
- Single edit (3:44) - on various single formats
- Ed Case Re-fix (4:30) - on 12" promo and some versions of Gorillaz
- Ed Case Re-fix edit (3:42) - on many single formats, some versions of Gorillaz, and The Singles Collection 2001-2011
- Phi Life Cypher version (4:50) - on various single formats and G-Sides
- Live in Manchester version on Demon Days Live DVD and "DARE" single
- A rare, but official, promo CD of unmastered tracks intended for the Gorillaz album contains the full unfaded version of "Clint Eastwood" running 6:33. This version was never properly released.
- "Clint Eastwood" is the first track (and one of the few) to directly address a band member by name in the lyrics. In one verse Del states, "Through Russel, not his muscles but percussion he provides..."
- Funnily enough, the Phi-Life Cypher version addresses both Russel and Noodle instead, in the verses "I'm a mad dred, causin' so much havoc in Russel's head" and "I smash the top of your head with a guitar I borrowed from Noodle".