"Gates of the West" as written by Joe Strummer, Mick Jones, Paul Simonon and Topper Headon....
I would love to be the lucky one on chill
Who could keep your heart warm when ice has turned it blue
But with the beggin' sleeping losers as they turn in for the night
I'm looking back for home and I can see the lights

I should be jumpin' shoutin' that I made it all this way
From Camden Town station to Fortieth and Eighth
Not many make it this far and many say we're great
But just like them we walk on an' we can't escape our fate
Can't you hear the sighing
Eastside Jimmy and Southside Sue
Both say they needed something new

So I'm standing at the gates of the west
I burn money at the lights of the sign
The city casts a shadow of the perfect crime
I'm standing at the gates of the east
I take my pulse and the pulse of my friend
The city casts a shadow, will I see you again?

The immigrants an' remnants of all the glory years
Are clustered around the bar again for another round of beers
Little Richard's in the kitchen playing spoons and plates
He's telling the waitress he's great

Ah say I know somewhere back'n'forth in time
Out on the dustbowls, deep in the roulette mine
Or in a ghetto cellar only yesterday
There's a move into the future for the USA.

I hear them crying
Eastside Jimmy and Southside Sue
Both said they needed something new

Standing at the gates of the west
In the shadow again
I'm standing at the gates of the west
In the shadow again

Lyrics submitted by aebassist, edited by Mellow_Harsher

"Gates of the West" as written by Mick Jones Joe Strummer

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

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Gates of the West song meanings
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  • 0
    General CommentI haven't given much thought to the meaning of this song, but it's one of my favorite Clash songs, and I'm not even that much a fan of this band. The melody is just great.
    DesiredNameon May 14, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General Commentits sirens (i thinking) not sighing
    like many of their better ones this songs about the clash with a real smart ear to cultural context and awareness of a sort of socialist/existintial awareness of never quite fitting in
    (like a lot of early rock n roll is about rock n roll, same with hip hop)
    moogfaagon February 03, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General Commenthow they're going to conquer America, musically of course
    floating_eyeon May 29, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentSo just what is this moogfaag fellow talking about? This song has little to do with existentialism, much less socialism. And, no, it *is* "sighing," as written above, not "sirens."

    floating_eye gets it right, though the song strikes me as a bit more melancholy, ambivalent and anxious than the word "conquer" might suggest.

    From 1979's Cost of Living EP, after they'd achieved a level of success in Britain, but before they really hit the big time stateside. (N.b.... also on that EP: their classic rendition of "I Fought the Law.)"
    mutuson January 16, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Commentone of my favorite clash songs, surprises me it was never released on one of their studio LPs.
    Bigson February 19, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis song has always reminded me of a Springsteen song. It has the same feel. I know that Mick Jones liked Springsteen and wonder if he was trying to write a song in that style.
    cardcheaton May 07, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Commenta part of this song reminds me of : the ballad of john and yoko
    quicson September 23, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentFloating eye is correct. The key is in the part were Mick sings of making it from Camden to 44th and 8th (streets,) and of course the standing at the gates of the west. I've always thought that when he says "But just like them we walk on/And we can't escape our fate" was trying to say that while few bands/artists ever 'crack' the U.S.A., what they have done is only temporary and will evntually come to pass, as all fashions do. But that is just my own and doubtable meaning I have pinned to that line. Feel free to correct me. This is a great song, but there are two things about it that bother me: a) After writing so many simplistic love songs, was it really Mick who penned these lyrics? They have a gret imagery to them; b) How can one person sound so much like Bob Dylan when he sings "He's telling the waitress he's great?" Maybe it' because they're both Jewish, I've noticed Lou Reed also has times where he sounds like Dylan, as does Paul Simon.
    Actually, the whole song reminds me a lot of "Hurricane," another great song.
    NellieWhiskeyon November 25, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General Commentmoofaaq is right. the clash represented either their particular area of town or the poor/common people of big english citys. the fact that I'm american and its not the 70s anymore kinda takes away my ability of interpreting this song.
    punkrocker9997on July 15, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI'd put money on it that the lyrics were, at least, tweaked significantly by Joe. Mick has stated many times that the lyrics were almost always Joe's
    rb3868on March 20, 2013   Link

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