Wasted Years

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"Wasted Years"
Single by Iron Maiden
from the album Somewhere in Time
B-side "Reach Out"
"Sheriff of Huddersfield"
Released 6 September 1986
Genre Heavy metal
Length 5:07
Label EMI
Writer(s) Adrian Smith
Iron Maiden singles chronology
"Run to the Hills (live)"
"Wasted Years"
"Stranger in a Strange Land"
For other meanings, see Wasted Years (disambiguation).

"Wasted Years" is the fourteenth single released by Iron Maiden and the first from their Somewhere in Time album. It is the only song on the album that features no synthesizers. Released in 1986, it was the first single solely written by guitarist Adrian Smith, who also sings backing vocals. It reached number 18 in the UK Singles Charts.


The song deals with subject of homesickness and alienation,[1] as well as the negative aspects of the band's nearly year long previous tour and personal problems that Smith and other band members were going through in that period.[2] At the same time the chorus suggests the idea that one should move beyond past troubles and look forward. The original working title was "Golden Years", as can be heard on numerous Somewhere on Tour bootlegs.

The cover depicts the band mascot Eddie's point of view as he flies a spaceship chasing the Doctor's TARDIS, which is seen in the distance on the middle-right of the picture just near the inner Nebula.[3] A similar Doctor Who reference can be seen on the back of the album's sleeve, where the Doctor's TARDIS is parked on a rooftop of the far left building "The Ruskin Arms" next to the "Rainbow" sign.[4]

As the album's sleeve, the single's front cover is also full of visual references to the band's earlier songs and albums. The four small screens on Eddie's spaceship's dashboard depict people burning in a lake of fire (a detail from The Number Of The Beast album cover), an image of Giza pyramids in the sunset (a reference to the Powerslave album cover), a moonlit graveyard (a reference to the Live After Death album cover) and a football field, showcasing the band's fascination with the game. A variety of smaller numeric displays show, among others, numbers 666 (a reference to the song "The Number Of The Beast") and 23-58 (a reference to the song "2 Minutes to Midnight").

The promotional video features black-and-white footage of the band playing the song in a studio in Frankfurt, West Germany, mixed with various scenes from band's previous promotional videos, together with clips of off-show activities during World Slavery Tour.

Wasted Years is featured in Rock Band.


The b-side "Reach Out" was sung by Adrian Smith, with regular lead singer Bruce Dickinson providing backing vocals. This song was previously performed live by Nicko McBrain and Smith's side project The Entire Population of Hackney.

The demential song "Sheriff of Huddersfield" is about Iron Maiden manager Rod Smallwood's decision to move to Los Angeles and buy a house in the Hollywood Hills. Apparently he had trouble adjusting to the LA lifestyle and often complained to the band about it. Interestingly Smallwood was unaware of the composition until it was released on the single, as the band had kept it secret from him. The song opens with the spoken line "We're on a mission from Rod", a parody of the tagline for The Blues Brothers, "We're on a mission from God". Later, a similar comedy piece called "Bayswater Ain't a Bad Place to Be", again mocking Smallwood, was released as an unlisted untitled b-side ("Space Station No. 5"'s epilogue) in the "Be Quick or Be Dead" single.


The song is composed in the keys of E minor. Adrian Smith plays the guitar solo.

Live performances[edit]

"Wasted Years" is one of three tracks from Somewhere in Time that have been played on more than two concert tours, the other two being the album's second single, "Stranger in a Strange Land", and "Heaven Can Wait". It was featured on Somewhere On Tour,[5] Seventh Tour of a Seventh Tour,[6] Real Live Tour (only on few dates),[7] The Ed Hunter Tour,[8] and Somewhere Back in Time World Tour.[9] and Maiden England World Tour.[10]

Janick Gers played the solo on Real Live Tour due to Smith leaving Iron Maiden in 1990. He also played all Smith's guitar parts on few dates of Ed Hunter Tour, while Smith was absent. In current Iron Maiden line-up shows (since 1999), Smith's trademark intro riff is doubled by Gers.

During Somewhere On Tour years, band used to lip-sync the track on various TV shows. The most famous recording comes from Germany, where Maiden swapped instruments on stage while the song was "performed", as a humorous protest to lip-syncing.[11]

Track listing[edit]

  1. "Wasted Years" (Adrian Smith) – 5:06
  2. "Reach Out" (Dave Colwell) – 3:31
  3. "Sheriff of Huddersfield" (Iron Maiden) – 3:35


Production credits are adapted from the 7-inch vinyl cover.[12]


Chart performance[edit]

Single Chart (1986) Peak
"Wasted Years" Irish Singles Chart 11[13] Somewhere in Time
UK Singles Chart 18[14]
Single Chart (1990) Peak
"Wasted Years/ Stranger in a Strange Land" UK Albums Chart[note 1] 9[15]


  1. ^ Re-release of both singles as part of The First Ten Years box set. Exceeded the length limit of the UK Singles chart.


  1. ^ Iron Maiden - Wasted Years Live Sheffield 1986 on YouTube
  2. ^ Iron Maiden - Flight 666 DVD, History Of Iron Maiden pt 2
  3. ^ "Wasted Years Cover". Retrieved 05/04/2012. 
  4. ^ "Somewhere In Time Gatefold Cover". Retrieved 05/04/20122. 
  5. ^ "Somewhere On Tour Setlist". Retrieved 09/04/2012. 
  6. ^ "Seventh Tour Of A Seventh Tour Setlist". Retrieved 09/04/2012. 
  7. ^ "A Real Live Tour Setlist". Retrieved 09/04/2012. 
  8. ^ "The Ed Hunter Tour Setlist". Retrieved 09/04/2012. 
  9. ^ "Somewhere Back In Time Setlist". Retrieved 09/04/2012. 
  10. ^ Alderslade, Merlin (22 June 2012). "First Iron Maiden ‘Maiden England’ US Tour Setlist Revealed, Rest Of World Weeps With Jealousy". Metal Hammer. Archived from the original on 28 September 2012. Retrieved 22 June 2012. 
  11. ^ Iron Maiden Playback on YouTube
  12. ^ Iron Maiden (6 September 1986). "Single credits". 'Wasted Years' 7 Inch Single Cover. EMI. 
  13. ^ "Irish singles archive". IRMA. Irishcharts.ie. Retrieved 14 October 2011. 
  14. ^ "Top 40 Official Singles Chart UK Archive 13 September 1986". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 19 September 2011. 
  15. ^ "Top 40 Official Albums Chart UK Archive 14 April 1990". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 19 September 2011. 

External links[edit]