Five Years

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This article is about the song by David Bowie. For other songs, see 5 Years.
"Five Years"
Song by David Bowie from the album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars
Released 16 June 1972[1]
Recorded 15 November 1971
Genre Glam rock, art rock
Length 4:42
Label RCA Records
Writer(s) David Bowie
Producer(s) David Bowie and Ken Scott
The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars track listing
Side one
  1. "Five Years"
  2. "Soul Love"
  3. "Moonage Daydream"
  4. "Starman"
  5. "It Ain't Easy"
Side two
  1. "Lady Stardust"
  2. "Star"
  3. "Hang On to Yourself"
  4. "Ziggy Stardust"
  5. "Suffragette City"
  6. "Rock 'n' Roll Suicide"

"Five Years" is a song written by David Bowie, recorded on 15 November 1971,[2] and released as the opening track on the album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars in 1972.

The song tells of an Earth doomed to destruction in five years and the aftermath of this knowledge. Bowie is rumoured to have chosen the 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.[3]

The "market square", referred to in the opening line, is Aylesbury market square, in Buckinghamshire, England. Bowie debuted both the Hunky Dory and The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars albums at Friars Club, in the town, and is reputed to have formed the Spiders there, following the "Hunky Dory" gig.

Allmusic describe the track as "easily one of the greatest album-opening songs ever".[4]

Live versions[edit]

  • Bowie played the song on the BBC radio show Sounds of the 70s: Bob Harris on 18 January 1972. This was broadcast on 7 February 1972 and released in 2000 on the album Bowie at the Beeb.
  • Bowie performed the song on Old Grey Whistle Test on 8 February 1972. This performance, broadcast on television later the same day, is included on the DVD version of Best of Bowie.
  • A version recorded at Santa Monica Civic Auditorium on 20 October 1972 has been released on Santa Monica '72 and Live Santa Monica '72.
  • Bowie performed the song on the Dinah Shore show in 1976.
  • A live performance recorded on 23 March 1976, in a medley with "Life on Mars?", was released on Live Nassau Coliseum '76, part of the 2010 reissues of Station to Station.
  • A spring 1978 performance from the "Heroes" tour was released on Stage.
  • The track was to be the closing number of Bowie's 1985 Live Aid set at London's Wembley Stadium but was dropped the day before the concert to allow time for the broadcast of the famous appeal video featuring "Drive" by The Cars as its soundtrack.
  • Bowie performed the song live during his 2003 Reality Tour, and a performance from November of that year was released on the A Reality Tour DVD in 2004, and included on the A Reality Tour album, released in 2010.
  • The track was performed by Bowie with Arcade Fire at the 2005 Fashion Rocks concert in New York as well as "Life On Mars?" and Arcade Fire's own song "Wake Up". These recordings were made available on the iTunes Music Store in a virtual live EP.
  • The song was taken as title of the BBC2 documentary David Bowie - Five Years - The Making of an Icon in 2013.


Other releases[edit]

  • The compilations The Best of David Bowie (Japan 1974) and Starman (Russia 1989).

Cover versions[edit]


  1. ^ "Happy 43rd Birthday to Ziggy Stardust". Retrieved 16 June 2015. 
  2. ^ Kevin Cann (2010). Any Day Now - David Bowie: The London Years: 1947-1974: p.231
  3. ^ Buckley, David (2004). David Bowie: the complete guide to his music. London: Omnibus. p. 16. ISBN 1-84449-423-3. Retrieved April 16, 2010. 
  4. ^
  5. ^ Mawer, Sharon. "Songs from the Mirror". AllMusic. Retrieved 26 December 2015. 

External links[edit]