“Five Years” is the Opening Track off of the 1972 David Bowie Album, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars. The Song was recorded in November of 1971 and tells of an Earth doomed to end in five years and the aftermath of society knowing it.
It is rumored that Bowie chose that length of time – five years – as a result of a dream in which his deceased Father told him he must never fly again and would die in five years (from Wikipedia).
Last night, on the two-year anniversary of David Bowie’s death, I watched the documentary “The Last Five Years” with my wonderful boyfriend. “Five Years” was in it, and while we watched Bowie sing it in a clip from The Dinah Shore Show, the tears came (not the first, or the last time I cried during the documentary). The Song has been stuck in my head ever since, and when I sat down to write on a Song today I knew it had to be “Five Years”.
Check out the Documentary – it is currently streaming for free via the David Bowie Memorial on Facebook.
“Five Years” by David Bowie
from the album, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars (1972)
The Song was recorded at London’s Trident Studios. Bowie later performed it on the BBC show The Old Grey Whistle Test on February 8, 1972, five months before the album’s release.
David Bowie’s lyric sheet for this song was part of an exhibition devoted to the British rock icon at London’s V&A museum. It was interesting to note the scribbled tweaks that shifted “Five Years'” emotional impact. “I never thought I’d see so many people,” for instance, became “…need so many people.”
In 2005, Bowie made a rare live appearance at the Fashion Rocks concert in New York to perform this song with Arcade Fire.