"Death Is a Star" as written by Joe Strummer and Mick Jones....
And I was gripped by that deadly phantom
I followed him through hard jungles
As he stalked through the back lots
Strangling through the night shades

Oh, the thief of life
Moved onwards and outwards to love

In a one-stop only motel
A storm bangs on the cheapest room
The phantom slips in to spill blood
Even on the sweetest honeymoon

The killer of love
Caught the last, late Niagara bus

By chance or escaping from misery
By suddenness or in answer to pain
Smoking in the dark cinema
See the bad go down again

And the clouds are high in Spanish mountains
And a Ford roars through the night full of rain

The killer's blood flows
But he loads his gun again

Can make a grown man cry like a girl
To see the guns dying at sunset

In vain, lovers claimed
That they never had met

Smoking in the dark cinema
See the bad go down again

Lyrics submitted by aebassist, edited by Mellow_Harsher

"Death Is a Star" as written by Mick Jones Joe Strummer

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

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Death Is a Star song meanings
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  • +1
    General CommentThis is one of my favourite Clash songs. It has such a great mood to us...just a wonderful nostalgic feel to it. "Make a grown man cry like a girl To see the guns dying at sunset"...all mixed in with wonderful piano runs. A lot more than a punk band!
    Ericdawingnuton November 20, 2004   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThis is Strummer's reflection on how strange it is that people (himself included) like to go to the movies, pay for the ticket, and then watch somebody get murdered on a big screen in all its bloody glory.
    This isn't just my interpretation, Strummer had said as much.
    It's a pretty song. Listen to it with only the right speakers on, and then only with the left. (or the other way around).
    One has piano and Mick Jones, the other has Strummer and drums. I think both have guitar, but it's been a while.

    And it very well could be about heart of darkness- or at least, kind of. The Clash have referred to Apocalypse Now before- with Charlie Don't Surf. So the dark jungles could in fact be a reference to that movie, based on that book.

    There yeh go. Good song. =)
    tooth_brushon November 12, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThat makes a lot of sense considering the title! Damn it spoils the funa bit when the artists actually tell you what they mean! Cheers though!
    J_Ron April 19, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General Comment The lyrics above are incomplete. "Smoking in the dark cinema/ You could see the bad go down again" is repeated at the end. This suggests that this Death figure repeats his killing bouts as Death never stops after all.
    It's interesting to note that "love" is alluded to several times. "Moved onwards and outwards to love", "even on the sweetest honeymoon", "The killer of love", and "In vain lovers claimed" (i keep on wanting to say "in vain THE lovers"). This could suggest that Death stops for no one, not even lovers. I find the "In vain lovers claimed" lines extremely sad because what I imagine is that in the face of death the lovers denied "that they never had met" and they forsake each other in the hopes of living. But it was all "in vain" and they died anyway. (Side note: I guess you really love someone if you won't betray them in the face of death)
    And J_R, when he says "The killer's blood flows" it doesn't have to mean that his blood is spilling, it could just mean that his blood is pumping as if he's got adrenaline in him.
    I think it's also great that this song is all unplugged and has some string instruments. But that's just me.
    TheDarkSideoftheMooon November 18, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General Commentwow this song goes to show you the depth and many dimension of the clash awesome song
    vicious_groupieon December 17, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis is a deeply mysterious song. Is it about a serial kilelr, or is it a bout suicide or maybe death himself? Sometimes I think it's about the second, because it is the killer's blood that flows, yet the killer goes on to kill again. But then again the lyric 'by chance or escaping from misery' seems to clearly indicate that this is about death, that can pounce at any time.
    It's about fascination with death "I was gripped by that deadly phantom". Not fear of death. Death comes across as very cool, suave even.
    I'm inclined to think that the three deaths in the song (the one in thhe motel near Niagra, teh one in teh cinema and the one in Spain) are probably based on things the CLash had read about, the Spanish one is mos likely some incident from teh Spanish Civil war (compare Spanish Bombs).
    The last line is totally and brilliantly baffling. In a way i don't really want to know more about this song, it's kinda nice to be immersed in it, to love that feeling and marvel at the mystery of it.
    Does anyone else think of heart of darkness when they hear this? The bit about 'following him through hard jungles' really reminds me of it.
    J_Ron July 06, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI agree with you about the whole fascination with death thing. And I have a stipulation about the meaning of the last line:

    First of all, the line is "In vain lovers claimed that they never had met". Note the 'that'.

    Well this guy's 'lover' is death, as you pointed out. So he's saying that he has never met death, as in never been a part of it. But he's lying (in vain, lovers claim). He has either caused a death or seen a death or whatever. Probably saying he has caused a death, because that would be a fitting end to the song.

    Great, relaxing song, anyway.
    Shmeeperon September 02, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentAlways struck me as being about people's fascination with 'slasher' movies.

    Don't know what the smoking laws in the UK were like in the 70's when this was written, but I know before then in the US it was quite acceptable to light up in a movie theater (smoking in a dark cinema).

    Maybe it's just some Spanish horror flick he saw at an indie playhouse?
    BubbaHoTepon March 16, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General Commentin a way it more about the darker side that the person is showing more and more than they usually show.
    Breakingbenjaminfanon May 23, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General Commentjoe's obsessed with death because his brother David committed suicide and i think he's considered it too
    he keeps it at bay by running away like he did to Spain during his disappearance from the band in "the future is unwritten" a spanish guy relates how he found this down and out guy who might be "Joe Strummer" and there's a photo of him as labelled "Joe in Spain" he's got a beard and looks like he's doing some serious thinking - check it out
    shepherdearson August 10, 2009   Link

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