"Golden Years" is a song written and recorded by David Bowie in 1975. It was originally released in a shortened form as a single in November 1975, and in its full-length version in January the following year on the Station to Station album. It was the first track completed during the Station to Station sessions, a period when Bowie's cocaine addiction was at its peak. At one stage it was slated to be the album's title track.
When it first appeared as a single in 1975, "Golden Years" presented a somewhat skewed view of the forthcoming album, being more similar in style to the Young Americansfunk/soul material from earlier in 1975 than the rest of Station to Station. The latter foreshadowed the Krautrock-influenced Euro-centric and electronic music that Bowie would move into with his late-1970s 'Berlin Trilogy'.
Bowie was looking to emulate something of the glitzy nostalgia of "On Broadway", which he was playing on piano in the studio when he came up with "Golden Years". He has said that he offered it to Elvis Presley to perform, but that Presley declined it. Both Angela Bowie and Ava Cherry claim to have been the inspiration for the song.
Bowie allegedly got drunk to perform the song for the American TV show Soul Train; at the time he was one of the few white artists to appear on the program. The resultant video clip was used to promote the single, and assisted Bowie's continued commercial success in the United States, where it charted for 16 weeks and reached No. 10 in early-1976. It achieved No. 8 in the UK and No. 17 in Canada. The song was also a top ten hit in Ireland, the Netherlands and Sweden. As a digital download, it reached number four in the Hungarian singles chart in 2016.
"Golden Years" was played sporadically by Bowie on the 1976 tour, if at all, but regularly on the 1983, 1990 and 2000 tours. It appears on the 1983 concert film Serious Moonlight. The song was used as the theme song of Stephen King'sGolden Years, and in the pilot of the CBS series Swingtown. The song was also used in the movie "A Knights Tale"(2001) starring Heath Ledger.
The 7 in. single version appeared on The Best of Bowie,The Best of David Bowie 1974/1979, Best of Bowie, The Platinum Collection, Nothing Has Changed, and Bowie Legacy. It is also included on Re:Call 2, part of the Who Can I Be Now? (1974–1976) compilation.
The song was included on the original soundtrack of A Knight's Tale (2001), starring Heath Ledger. The original film score was written for the film by Hollywood composer Carter Burwell. One scene in the movie is a formal dance, which calls for courtly music based on Burwell's love theme to segue into David Bowie's song "Golden Years". It presented several challenges. First, the whole dance had been choreographed and filmed to an arbitrary tempo which begins at a slow courtly pace and speeds up and up until Bowie's song kicks in. Burwell had to match that tempo and the choreography after the fact and also find some credible path from a formal and restrained dance to a joyful '70s pop tune. They obtained Bowie's permission to pull tracks from his multitrack master of the song so they could mix these into Burwell's arrangement, helping to introduce his song before it has really begun. The end result is not on either of the CDs which were released (song or score soundtrack). Tony Visconti, who produced the original recording of the song, supervised the remix session, and Bowie dropped by as well to hear what they found in his multitrack.
"Golden Years" is the sixth single by English R&B band Loose Ends from their second studio album, So Where Are You?, and was released in July 1985 by Virgin Records. The single is a cover of the David Bowie song. The 7in. Version is slightly different from the Album Version: it contains more vocals from Jane Eugene, and vocal loops of the word 'run' during the instrumental break, among other changes. The video featured the band performing in a derelict warehouse, intercut with scenes of the band playing crooks stealing a case of gold bars, which is torn open and the bars cascade down a staircase. Although the video was used to promote the single in the UK on ITV's 'TV-am' and Channel 4's 'Soul Train', and the group performed the song on BBC's 'Wogan', the single only reached No. 59.