Study Guide

Go West Lyrics

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(Go west) Life is peaceful there
(Go west) In the open air

Quick Thought

"Go West" is about a utopian dream, not far in basic concept from the visions of poets like Walt Whitman (to whom all of America was a potential utopia) or Percy Shelley.

Deep Thought

Unfortunately, the rhyme and rhythm is a little less brilliant in "Go West" than in something like Shelley's "Ode to the West Wind." This might be because "Go West" was written by the same poetic geniuses who wrote the lyrics to the song "Y.M.C.A." ("It's fun to stay at the Y-M-C-A.") 

In other words, we think it's probably safe to assert that, although disco has several assets, clever wording isn't one of them. The clichés associated with the topic of utopia make it even easier to shirk serious writing on the subject.

(Together) We will love the beach
(Together) We will learn and teach

Quick Thought

This pleasantly elementary couplet is actually a reference to the gay utopia once imagined to await men in the faraway land of San Francisco.

Deep Thought

San Francisco had beaches, sailors, and free love; in the late 1960s and the 1970s, one of the rallying cries of the gay community (emerging from decades of closeted secrecy) was the cry to "go west" to California. 

The Village People wrote this lyric as a playfully innocent take on the glory and greatness of an imagined gay promised land. Because the song never makes overt mention of anything gay, lines like this were something of an inside joke with gay audiences.

(Go west) This is our destiny (aah)

Quick Thought

The idea that the west is a "destiny" draws on the racially and religiously charged ideal known as Manifest Destiny.

Deep Thought

In the early 1800s, European colonists developed a belief that they were destined by God to rule the entire land now known as the United States, "from sea to shining sea." This belief, called Manifest Destiny, drove the violent and bloody assault on Native-American communities by the U.S. government. 

It also drove government policies that granted western lands to white settlers to encourage them to settle there. Some people believed that coast-to-coast dominance was the God-given right of the settlers, which served as a justification for violent land grabs. Although the song isn't really about Manifest Destiny, this line certainly seems to reference it.

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