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"Golden Years" is a song by English musician David Bowie, released by RCA Records on 21 November 1975 as the lead single from his tenth studio album Station to Station (1976). Partially written before Bowie began shooting for the film The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976), the song was mostly compiled in the studio and was the first track completed for the album. Some biographers say that the song was written for Elvis Presley, who turned it down, while his wife Angie claimed it was written for her. Recording took place at Cherokee Studios in Los Angeles during September 1975. The song was co-produced by David Bowie and Harry Maslin and features contributions from Carlos Alomar and Earl Slick on guitar, George Murray on bass and Dennis Davis on drums; Bowie's old friend Warren Peace contributed backing vocals and assisted with the vocal arrangements. Due to Bowie's heavy cocaine use, he later recalled remembering almost nothing of Station to Station's production.
|Single by David Bowie|
|from the album Station to Station|
|B-side||"Can You Hear Me?"|
|Released||21 November 1975|
|Recorded||21–30 September 1975|
|Studio||Cherokee, Los Angeles|
|David Bowie singles chronology|
Musically, "Golden Years" is a funk and disco song that is reminiscent of the music on Bowie's previous album, Young Americans (1975), particularly "Fame", but with a harsher, grinding edge. The song utilises elements of several 1950s doo-wop tracks in its arrangement, with the main guitar riff being based on the Cliff Nobles and Company song "The Horse", while the multi-tracked vocal refrain resembles the Diamonds' "Happy Years". Other tracks that influenced the composition of the song included the Drifters' "On Broadway" and Dyke and the Blazers' "Funky Broadway". Lyrically, the narrator offers a companion hope of entering a limousine and being isolated from the outside world. In other words, he assures his companion that she will always be protected by him and promises her a brighter future.
Bowie preceded its release by miming the song on Soul Train, where he appeared incoherent. "Golden Years" has been viewed positively by music critics and biographers, who have highlighted its composition. Upon release, the song was a commercial success, peaking at number eight in the UK and number ten in the US. It also reached the top ten in Ireland, the Netherlands and Sweden. The song was rarely played throughout Bowie's 1976 Isolar tour but regularly in 1983's Serious Moonlight, 1990's Sound+Vision and 2000's Mini tours. The song has appeared on lists of Bowie's best songs and has been included on various compilation albums, covered by numerous artists and made appearances in several films and soundtracks, including A Knight's Tale (2001), which featured a new remix by Bowie's longtime collaborator Tony Visconti.