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  • 5 Years

    Pushing thru 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, favourite 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 and 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 wheel 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 parlour, 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
    We've got five years, what a surprise
    We've got five years, my brain hurts a lot
    We've got five years, that's all we've got

    (“Five Years”, first cut on David Bowie’s “Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars”)

    Tony, first I just need to say how thrilled I am that yours are back in the mix of stories here in the strange and mystical land of Cowbird Story-tellers. In the fabric of our tapestry here, the threads of your stories add some of the richest colors, and they’re terribly missed when you are on story-telling sabbattical. Welcome back, my friend!

    Like you, this album, more than any other I can remember, just exploded into my consciousness the very first time I heard it. More than Sargeant Pepper, more than Born To Run, more than Pearl, more than Dylan’s song “Like a Rolling Stone”, all of which had significant impacts on my musical world view, Ziggy just blew me completely away. Completely changed how I saw the world through my musical soundtrack, (which is how I see much of the world).

    He had me with “Five Years”, the first cut on the album. Who wrote like that? Who sang like that? The pictures it conjured up. The absurdity. The boldness of the words. The pefect musical landscape accompanying those words.

    This was my very first introduction to the Thin White Duke, and I would never be the same after listening through the entire album, right on through to the brilliant finale, “Rock and Roll Suicide”. “Time takes a cigarette, puts it in your mouth, you pull on a finger, then another finger, then your cigarette, the wall-to-wall is calling, it lingers, then you forget, whoa-oh-oh-oh, you’re a rock’n’roll suicide” – anyone who had just recently been suicidally depressed for months could perfectly relate to that line, and I did. I had been there. Bowie understood me!

    The whole story of Ziggy – wow! The turning of the concept of sexuality on its head – not too many people remember how unaware most people were about sexuality, outside of the mainstream accepted ideas, in 1972. The idea that there could be life outside of our narrow concept, sexual life, alien life or otherwise, just opened up so many possibilities in my imagination. There was just something so liberating about this whole album.

    I picked it up shortly after it was released, just as I was slowly climbing out of my first serious suicidal depression, and it simply electrified me. It was like electro-shock therapy – (well, maybe what that was supposed to be). It invigorated me. Changed me. Bowie did a ton of great work beyond that album, all of which I loved…but none would have the impact on me that this piece of musical and literary brilliance did. To this day, it takes me back to a time and a place where I came back from the dead, and was the perfect welcome introduction back to life. Life that would never be the same again.
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