9: Five Years.. David Bowie

In the 70’s, watching TV was a consensus activity. Most home only had one set and that was there for the entertainment of the whole family, you didn’t just watch what you wanted when you wanted it, especially if it clashed with Coronation Street.

For this reason I didn’t get to watch most of a series called ‘Survivors’ but it captured by imagination big time. The series was based on the premise that a virus (from a Chinese scientist) has wiped out most of the population and a small group had to survive in the post apocalyptic world. Just after this I watched ‘The Omega Man’, a 1971 film starring Charlton Heston which was shown on TV at time which didn’t clash with any soaps. The film which would later be remade as ‘I am Legend’ again introduced the idea of a world devoid of people post some global pandemic.

Rather than find this a terrifying prospect I rather relished the thought of a world devoid of others, as long as I had a gun and could hotwire a car I thought my chances were quite favorable. Now I’m older I recognise the challenge of dentistry and medical problems but I would loot a chemist or two so, to be honest, would have a better access to medical supplies than I do with the NHS at the moment.

When broadcaster Danny Baker asked via twitter for song lyric suggestions for our current pandemic there were the inevitable suggestions along the lines of ‘Don’t stand too Close to Me’ (Police) but there was one suggestion echoed by a lot of responders which seemed to capture the feeling of staring into a very uncertain future.

5 Years was the opening track on Bowies Ziggy Stardust album.It’s a piece of work that seemed almost impossibly futuristic at the time.For me it’s a collection of some great and some ok songs which is pushed into being greater than the sum of it’s parts by the opening and closing tracks (Rock and Roll Suicide being the ultimate song). 5 years opens on a musical high with a drumbeat in 6/8, a time signature lost to modern music, which mimics a heartbeat. The opening lyrics sets the scene as well as any novel.

Pushing through the market square

So many mothers sighing

News had just come over

We had five years left to cry in

News guy wept and told us

Earth was really dying

Cried so much his face was wet

Then I knew he was not lying

I heard telephones

opera house

favorite melodies

I saw boys

toys

electric irons and TV’s

My brain hurt like a warehouse

It had no room to spare

I had to cram so many things to store everything in there

And all the fat, skinny people

and all the tall, short people and all the nobody people

and all the somebody people

Never thought I’d need so many people

A girl my age went off her head

hit some tiny children

If the black hadn’t a-pulled her off

I think she would have killed them

A soldier with a broken arm

fixed his stare to the wheels of a Cadillac

A cop knelt and kissed the feet of a priest

And the queer threw up at the sight of that

I think I saw you in an ice cream

And it was cold and it rained

so I felt like an actor

And I thought of ma

and I wanted to get back there

Your face

your race

the way that you talk

I kiss you

you’re beautiful

I want you to walk

We’ve got five years

stuck on my eyes

Five years

What a surprise

We’ve got five years

My brain hurts a lot

Five years

That’s all we’ve got

We’ve got five years

What a surprise

Five years

stuck on my eyes

We’ve got five years

My brain hurts a lot

Five years

That’s all we’ve got

We’ve got five years

stuck on my eyes

Five years

What a surprise

We’ve got five years

My brain hurts a lot

Five years,

That’s all we’ve got

We’ve got five years

What a surprise

We’ve got five years

stuck on my eyes

We’ve got five years

My brain hurts a lot

Five years

That’s all we’ve got

Five years

Five years

Five years

Five years

The song captures so well the sense of numb disbelief we’ve all experienced in the last few days as the narrator struggles with his own feelings and memories around him others are coping with using violence or turning to religion.

It’s early days yet, we’ve got to process this in our own times but we are moving from disbelief into action. I still haven’t got a gun and I’m not even certain you can hotwire cars anymore but hopefully I wont need to.

We can get through this together

This entry was posted in glam rock, memories of 70s, rock music and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to 9: Five Years.. David Bowie

  1. Thom Hickey says:

    Thanks. A genuine epic with so many resonances.

    Stay well

    Regards Thom

    Liked by 1 person

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