"Five Years" as written by Tony Hiller and Byron Hill....
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 T.V.'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
I 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 a queer threw up at the sight of that

I think I saw you in an ice-cream parlor,
Drinking milk shakes cold and long
Smiling and waving and looking so fine,
Don't think you knew you were in this song

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
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


Lyrics submitted by BigPoppaChidog

"Five Years" as written by David Bowie

Lyrics © BMG RIGHTS MANAGEMENT US, LLC, TINTORETTO MUSIC

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Five Years song meanings
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  • +10
    General CommentWhile “Ziggy” is a concept album I don't think you can simply say that all other meaning is thrown out the window. I think that this is Ziggy saying that we (earth) have five years left. Bowie chose 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.

    He describes the whole episode so vividly. He starts with the news-guy proclaiming Armageddon and goes into his and other people’s reactions. In between he talks of what is great about life:

    Material:
    "telephones, opera house, favourite melodies
    I saw boys, toys, electric irons and TVs."

    and not:
    all the fat-skinny people, etc.

    Ziggy is supposed to be from outer-space but I see it as a metaphor for him being different. When he learns that its all going to end he just wants to go home to Mom. At heart Ziggy is just a confused kid like the rest of us. No matter how old you are.
    SomethingCleveron January 12, 2006   Link
  • +3
    General CommentNews guy wept when he told us, earth was really dying is a dead giveaway that this is about Earth/Armageddon.
    Such a visual song, the imagery really burns the lyrics in your brain. Doesn't even need a video.
    I love the image of the person chilling with a milkshake while the rest of the world is freaking out.
    Chinupon December 30, 2004   Link
  • +2
    General CommentGeez, the song's not that hard to figure out. Its about full circle. That is ziggy has become human, if you will, and adopted earth as his home. He disbelieves the world will end, and then realizes it is true. He has feelings, about everything, like telephones, opera houses, boys, toys, etc. Then the line about the fat-skinny and tall-short people is not what's bad about the world, but about what the world is. See, he says all the fat-skinny, tall short, nobody, somebody people, I never thought I'd need so many people - this means as in need people to feel alive, to be human, to have life, community, etc. We come in all shapes, sizes, egos and realities.

    the gay comment? its a comment. Why focus on this so much. I think he meant that cops are exhaulted, or society holds them to that, and then when a cop prays, it shows both that all has broken down, thus sickness that the end is for real, and also shows the hyprocicacy of it all and the sudeen bron again bullcrap that the apocolypse will bring in people. The gay guy is sickened by the hyprocicacy of it all. Why a gay guy? for the same reason a cop. Symbolism. The cop is above society, the thin blue line. The gay guy is the bottom, below it all, farthest removed from the norm.

    Then he sees the girl and digs her for her coolness, perhaps because instead of freaking out, she is enjoying life. What are you gonna do, pack? save your photos? No, might as well anjoy it while you got it, a milkshake is one of life's simple pleasures.

    Finally, the last couple lines i think complete the circle to a child. he says about his ma, then about humans generally, then about "I kiss you, you're beautiful, I want you to walk". Could be the girl in the ice cream parlor, but instead I think it is about a newborn, maybe his, maybe hypotethical, that he would've like to see live, to walk - a momentus occassion in anyone's life. all gone now, world's ending.

    and no, its not a religious song. Does it have religious overtones? sure. All good art is linked to religion somehow, usually by religious people looking for meaning of it all. No wonder people will think of gensesis and apocolypse in religious terms. Too bad genesis and apocolypse preceded religion. Or did they?
    cubsfanon June 18, 2006   Link
  • +2
    General CommentI don't know how much religion has to do with the entire Stardust saga, but I can certainly see where people are drawing their comparisons from. In relation to Bowie's in depth explanation of the Rise and Fall concept (see below), Ziggy does indeed play a similar role to Jesus Christ. Ironically, Jesus died to give hope to humanity, while Ziggy's death was simply a confirmation that hope had well and truly left the building. Still, they were both mediums of a sort, and both sacrificed their lives for what they wholeheartedly believed in.

    One of the most exhilarating aspects about Bowie's songs is the way they creep up on you, and Five Years is an excellent specimen. Starting with a lazy beat and brief, semi-apathetic statements, it subtly comes to an emotional crescendo in the final few verses. It runs the gauntlet from anomic grey to bittersweet vermillion without missing a shade in between.
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    "The time is five years to go before the end of the earth. It has been announced that the world will end because of lack of natural resources. Ziggy is in a position where all the kids have access to things that they thought they wanted. The older people have lost all touch with reality and the kids are left on their own to plunder anything. Ziggy was in a rock-and-roll band and the kids no longer want rock-and-roll. There's no electricity to play it. Ziggy's adviser tells him to collect news and sing it, 'cause there is no news. So Ziggy does this and there is terrible news. 'All the young dudes' is a song about this news. It's no hymn to the youth as people thought. It is completely the opposite. [...]
    The end comes when the infinites arrive. They really are a black hole, but I've made them people because it would be very hard to explain a black hole on stage. [...]
    Ziggy is advised in a dream by the infinites to write the coming of a Starman, so he writes 'Starman', which is the first news of hope that the people have heard. So they latch onto it immediately...The starmen that he is talking about are called the infinites, and they are black-hole jumpers. Ziggy has been talking about this amazing spaceman who will be coming down to save the earth. They arrive somewhere in Greenwich Village. They don't have a care in the world and are of no possible use to us. They just happened to stumble into our universe by black hole jumping. Their whole life is travelling from universe to universe. In the stage show, one of them resembles Brando, another one is a Black New Yorker. I even have one called Queenie, the Infinite Fox...Now Ziggy starts to believe in all this himself and thinks himself a prophet of the future starmen. He takes himself up to the incredible spiritual heights and is kept alive by his disciples. When the infinites arrive, they take bits of Ziggy to make them real because in their original state they are anti-matter and cannot exist in our world. And they tear him to pieces on stage during the song 'Rock 'n' roll suicide'. As soon as Ziggy dies on stage the infinites take his elements and make themselves visible."
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    (The above quote is from a Rolling Stone interview with David Bowie. See Wikipedia for more info and references.)
    NellieWhiskeyon June 19, 2010   Link
  • +1
    General CommentWell, I had to sign up and provide my 2 cents on this song...
    The song seems to be about people's reactions to the message that the world is coming to an end...
    The first part is the narrator's reaction; his mind fills with memories of things he considers important to him, or things he like. His favourite melody, electrical irons and so on.
    Then he tries to find comfort in the people around him, something he never thought he'd need to do.

    The next part is the reaction of other people, and how the world is turned upside down. The line about the priest shows this quite clearly I think. Remember that gay people don't hate religion, but religion hate gay people. And in this song you see the opposite,

    And then he sings about the girl in the ice-cream parlour, who seems completely unaffected, and sort of becomes a rock for him to cling to.


    Also, on the comments that Jesus hated gay people I have to ask you how you know that... Have you asked him? Keep in mind that the Bible is about as biased as something can get... Actually, I've heard the opposite, that Jesus weren't against anyone, but quite on the contrary supporting everyone... But, I'm an atheist, so what do I know.
    FallenFoxon June 08, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentIt really is a great song. I may be wrong, but I believe this is about Ziggy's planet being having five years left, and observing the different chaos that this brings among the people.
    clearlygonemadon October 15, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General Commentthis song could go on Diamond Dogs. It fits with Future Legend and DD lyrics.
    coo2kachooon April 08, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentStop with the religious bullshit, this song is not a religious song!
    Eatcarpeton June 04, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General Commenti think the song is about end of the world, and people knowing that the world will end soon.

    Very beautiful, you rock Bowie
    River Wolfon August 05, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI just listened to this song while reading the lyrics, and nearly cried. We'll miss you bowie! (what? he's still alive? HURRAY more opportunities to see him live. i can't believe i missed the reality tou :()
    scimitar_255on August 12, 2005   Link

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