The Canon #8
David Bowie - "Five Years"
"Five Years" begins minimally - a steady drumbeat presents itself, then a beautifully elastic bassline and stark piano chords enter the scene. Bowie's apocalyptic alien persona describes a town that has just found out the Earth is dying. With some of his most poignant lyrics, Bowie creates a living, breathing grief-stricken microcosm in your head:
Gradually, the song gathers steam and builds momentum. The drummer quickens his pace, the triumphant piano line emerges, Mick Ronson strums his guitar, and the string section sets sail. The song rushes onward - as if the band is trying prolong the inevitable. Before the song enters into its soaring coda, Bowie belts out these parting lines to a girl he notices in an ice-cream parlor:
As I mentioned earlier, I distinctly remember the joy I felt upon hearing "Five Years" for the first time, and I still feel that way everytime I hear it. All of you friends that I turned on to Bowie through this song - you know who you are; and I know that everytime you listen to the end of this song, you're shouting "We've got five years!" with your hand out-stretched.