Five Years – David Bowie
This week we look back at the opening track of my favourite album ‘The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars.’
David Bowie is, in my humble opinion, one of the most creative men to ever live as well as one of the smartest, proven by this concept album. The opening track ‘Five Years’ is the song we are covering and is one of my favourite songs of all time. Being from Hull, this album may intrigue me more than most with The Spiders From Mars (Bowie’s backing band) originating in Hull.
Writing lyrics beyond his time, somehow Bowie was able to look into the future in many of his thoughts and the lyrical prowess of ‘Five Years’ pays testament to that. The whole concept of the song is how people would behave if they had five years left to live, an idea which came to him in a dream.
“And all the fat-skinny people, and all the tall-short people, and all the nobody people, and all the somebody people, I never thought I’d need so many people.” Evidence of Bowie’s lack of prejudice, this lyric in particular resonated with me.
It’s interesting to think that originally, the lyric was “I never thought I’d see so many people” but was scribbled and replaced with “need” to further explain the feelings many of us may feel if the world was in fact going to end.
In terms of the musical elements of the song, nothing is overwhelmingly spectacular. The drum beat is elegant yet subtle and the piano is simple yet effective. ‘Five Years’ has no right to be as good as it is, but the final 2 minutes of the song sell it as a masterpiece. The passion, the emotion and the pure vocal ability shown off here is magnificent.
For those who haven’t experienced the pure euphoria of listening to this track, I can’t recommend it enough! You can do so below and you will not be disappointed. David Bowie was one of the finest songwriters of his and any generation and although ‘Five Years’ may not be at the top of many lists when it comes to Bowie – even more proof of how good the man was – it is one of his best, even neutrally speaking.
Words by: Dan Smith