Five Minutes (Bonzo Goes to Washington song)

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"Five Minutes"
Single by Bonzo Goes to Washington
Released October, 1984
Format 7"
Recorded New York City 1984
Genre Hip-hop/sample
Length 3:19
Label Sleeping Bag Records
Songwriter(s) Jerry Harrison, Bootsy Collins, Daniel Lazerus
Producer(s) Jerry Harrison and Daniel Lazerus

"Five Minutes" is a song by Jerry Harrison, Bootsy Collins and producer Daniel Lazerus, and credited to Bonzo Goes to Washington. It was released on the Sleeping Bag Records label in 1984.

The song begins with the recording made of then-US-President Ronald Reagan's "We begin bombing in five minutes" joke speech, which is then sampled and looped throughout the remainder of the track.[1]

Harrison had considered the joke to be in bad taste; as he later recalled to author Dave Bowman:

Everyone has the right to kid around, but that was too public. I hated Reagan's gutting of people's civil rights. I thought everything he stood for was awful.[1]

Before the record was released, most people had heard about the joke speech but very few had actually heard the speech itself.[1] It was only spoken by Reagan as a microphone test, which was then inadvertently recorded. Harrison was able to locate a copy of the speech from a college radio station and sampled it. Using what would now be considered to be common hip-hop recording methods — despite the term only just being used at the time — Harrison mixed in Reagan's speech with synthesizers and drums, looping the phrases "I'm pleased", "outlaw Russia forever" and "five minutes" multiple times over.[1]

The title of the band references the film Bedtime for Bonzo, which starred Reagan, and which also inspired the Ramones' song "Bonzo Goes to Bitburg". Despite the character of Bonzo being a chimpanzee in the film, in both songs Bonzo is taken to mean Reagan himself.

When the song was completed, no major label could guarantee a release before the 1984 Presidential election so Harrison chose to release it on a micro-label called Sleeping Bag Records.[1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e Bowman, Dave (2001). fa fa fa fa fa fa: The Adventures of Talking Heads in the 20th Century. Bloomsbury Publishing. ISBN 0-7475-4586-3.