“When the Sun Goes Down” by Arctic Monkeys

“When the Sun Goes Down” centers on two characters, or perhaps we can more accurately say characterizations. The first we’re introduced to is a “girl” who is obviously a prostitute. The vocalist never goes as far as to overtly confirm this fact, but any mature adult would know the type he’s referring to, i.e. a street walker who’s out on the job. 

And Alex doesn’t go as far as to judge her. Indeed it can be said that he sympathizes with her plight and understands that ultimately, at the end of the day, people have to do what they have to do in order to survive. For instance, a john pulls up in the second verse, whom the lady readily accepts. 

However, as far as the narrator can deduce, she is not doing so because she actually wants to be with him. Instead it’s “f–king freezing” outside, while she’s “scantily-clad”. Owing to this, she is elated to receive some shelter, via the vehicle, from the winter chill.

A Scumbag!

However, the Arctic Monkeys aren’t as lenient when it comes to the men involved, or one man in particular, who is referred to as a “scumbag”. Now let it be known that whereas some parts of this narrative, such as the aforementioned second verse, may be relatively easy to understand, others, such as the first verse, are not. 

Therefore, it’s not abundantly clear who this “scumbag” is or is supposed to represent. But the general consensus seems to be that he is the one pimping the girl. Or perhaps he himself is a john – and a particularly disgusting one in the vocalist’s eyes. Or it can be both, since pimps are known to sleep with their workers anyway. 

But in any event, as noted, this is someone whom the narrator perceives as being a particularly grimy individual, one that would “rob you” for instance, if the opportunity presented itself.

A Song Based on a Real Location

And if this all sounds a bit true-to-life, that’s because this piece was written about a location Alex Turner and co. are personally familiar with, in their hometown of Sheffield, England. This part of town, known as Neepsend, may be referred to at the time as a red light district or more specifically one where “when the sun goes down”, the economic activities of the ‘hood also changes to more nocturnal operations, as detailed above. 

And the lyrics were actually written by the singer, meaning that they reflect his personal judgment of this reality. And it can be ascertained that not only is he a bit startled by the nature of this dichotomy, but is furious with the one individual, the scapegoat if you will, who in his eyes most revoltingly personifies this social malady. 

Or put more into layman’s terms, the vocalist doesn’t particularly read like someone who would patronize a working girl himself, and he definitely wouldn’t pimp one. 

And considering all of the imagery that has been vested into promoting this track, it can be further postulated that if Turner, a singer who is known to appreciate his community (to the point of being mocked for leaving the ‘hood), had the power of a politician, perhaps he would do something legislatively to clean up the area this song is based on. 

But as a musician he’s more inclined to artistically induce a public response, a purpose we would presume this piece is intended to serve.

Lyrics of "When the Sun Goes Down"

Facts about “When the Sun Goes Down”

This song came out on 23 January 2006. It is one of the songs on Arctic Monkeys’ very first studio album, “Whatever People Say I am, That’s What I’m Not”. Since then they’ve gone on to drop five other studio albums, with all six of them proving to be UK Albums Chart toppers. And to note this band is in fact from England and more specifically the city of Sheffield.

“When the Sun Goes Down” is the second single in Arctic Monkeys’ discography. 

It also proved to be a big success across the pond. There, it topped a couple of charts, including the UK Singles and the UK Indie. This is in addition to being certified double-platinum by the BPI. 

And this song also appeared on music rankings in a few other countries, topping the Scottish Singles Chart in the process.

The working title of this track was actually “Scummy”.

The music video to this song, which director Paul Fraser helmed, stars a couple of acting professionals in the following persons:

  • Stephen Graham
  • Lauren Socha

To note, Paul Fraser also directed a short film, entitled Scummy Manbased on this track.

“When the Sun Goes Down” was written solely by Alex Turner, with its producer being the prolific and successful Jim Abbiss.

When the Sun Goes Down

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