"Golden Years" is a song written by David Bowie in 1975. It was originally released as a shortened single in November 1975, and in its full-length version in January the following year on theStation 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.[1] At one stage it was slated to be the album's title track.

Music and lyrics[edit source | editbeta][edit | edit source]

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 Americans funk/soulmaterial from earlier in 1975 than the rest of Station to Station, which foreshadowed the Kraftwerk-influenced Euro-centric and electronic music that Bowie would move into with his late-1970s 'Berlin Trilogy'.[2]

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".[1] He has said that he offered it to Elvis Presley to perform, but that Presley declined it.[3] Both Angela Bowie and Ava Cherry also claim to have been the inspiration for the song.[3]

Release and aftermath[edit source | editbeta][edit | edit source]

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.[4] The resultant video clip was used to promote the single and continued Bowie's commercial success in the United States, where it reached #10 and charted for 16 weeks. It achieved #8 in the UK.

"Golden Years" was played sporadically by Bowie on the 1976 tour,[2] and regularly on the 1983, 1990 and 2000 tours. It was used as the theme song of Stephen King's Golden Years, and in the pilot of the CBS series Swingtown. In "Replaceable You", a 2011 episode of The Simpsons, the song plays at a scene in the retirement home and over the closing credits. It was used in the dance sequence of the 2001 Heath Ledger movie 'A Knight's Tale'.

Track listing[edit source | editbeta][edit | edit source]

  1. "Golden Years" (Bowie) – 3:22
  2. "Can You Hear Me?" (Bowie) – 5:04

Production credits[edit source | editbeta][edit | edit source]

Other releases[edit source | editbeta][edit | edit source]

  • The song appeared as the B-side of an alternate version of the single "Fame".
  • It was released as the B-side of the U.S. release of "John, I'm Only Dancing (Again)" in December 1979.
  • In November 1981 it appeared as the B-side of the single "Wild Is the Wind".
  • It was released as part of the RCA Records Life Time picture disc set and the Fashion Picture Disc Set.
  • Several Bowie compilations have featured the song:
  • The 7" single version also appeared on The Best of 1974/1979 (1998).
  • It was included in on the album Trainspotting #2: Music from the Motion Picture, Vol. #2 (1997)
  • It 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.[5]

David Bowie vs KCRW[edit source | editbeta][edit | edit source]

"Golden Years David Bowie vs KCRW"
Single by David Bowie
from the album Station to Station
Released 2011
Format CD single
Recorded Cherokee Studios, Hollywood CA
Genre Funkdiscosoulrock
Label Virgin Records
Producer David Bowie, Harry Maslin
David Bowie singles chronology
"Rebel Never Gets Old"


"Golden Years

David Bowie vs KCRW" 2011

"Where Are We Now?"


An updated single for "Golden Years" was released in 2011 to coincide with the re-release of Station to Station. 4 new remixes were provided by DJs from radio station KCRW in California.[6]

Track listing[edit source | editbeta][edit | edit source]

  1. "Golden Years (Single Version)" – 3:27
  2. "Golden Years (Anthony Valdez KCRW Remix)" – 4:22
  3. "Golden Years (Eric J. Lawrence KCRW Remix)" – 3:11
  4. "Golden Years (Chris Douridas KCRW Remix)" – 4:25
  5. "Golden Years (Jeremy Sole KCRW Remix)" – 4:37
"Golden Years"
Single by Loose Ends
from the album So Where Are You?


B-side "Let's Rock"
Released July 1985 (UK)
Format Vinyl (12"), Vinyl (7")
Recorded 1985
Genre R&B
Length 3:48
Label Virgin Records
Writer(s) David Bowie
Producer Nick Martinelli
Loose Ends singles chronology
"Magic Touch"


"Golden Years"


"Stay A Little While, Child"


So Where Are You? track listing
"So Where Are You?"


"Golden Years"


"Hangin' On A String [Contemplating]"


Loose Ends version[edit source | editbeta][edit | edit source]

"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 7" Version is slightly different to the Album Version; mainly more vocals from Jane Eugene and vocal loops of the word 'run' during the instrumental break. 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 the staircase. Although the video was used to promote the single in the UK on ITVs 'TV-am' and Channel 4s 'Soul Train', and the group performed the song on BBCs 'Wogan', the single only reached number 59.

Track listing[edit source | editbeta][edit | edit source]

7" Single: VS795

  1. "Golden Years" 3.48
  2. "Let's Rock" 3.51 - listed as 4.57 but actually fades out at 3.51

12" Single: VS795-12

  1. "Golden Years" (Remix) 5.30
  2. "Let's Rock" 4.57

Cover versions[edit source | editbeta][edit | edit source]

  • Nina Hagen – Live recording from Fearless/Angstlos tour
  • Loose Ends – So Where Are You? (1985)
  • Marilyn Manson – Dead Man on Campus soundtrack (1998)
  • Amberjack Rice, Walter Traggert and Breakfastime – Only Bowie (1995)
  • Swell – Crash Course for the Ravers – A Tribute to the Songs of David Bowie (1996)
  • Track One A.B. – Reverie (1999)
  • Walk DMC – Ashes to Ashes: A Tribute to David Bowie (1998)
  • Essra Mohawk – Spiders from Venus: Indie Women Artists and Female-Fronted Bands Cover David Bowie (2003)
  • Count Zero – .2 Contamination: A Tribute to David Bowie (2006)
  • Mascara – from the Ensign Records LP See You In LA (1979) featuring Luther Vandross
  • Susumu Yokota – Life Beyond Mars: Bowie Covered (2008)
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