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   >> Interpretation
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pablopicasso
(wild eyed peoploid)
01/22/04 02:36 PM
When I'm five  

When first heard is sounds like a childhood dream of innocence, but two lines disturb me:

I wonder why my daddy cries.

I get headaches in the morning.

Is the protagonist in this song actually going to make it to the age of five, or is there some ailment that is going to stop him, is that why his daddy is crying?

She's so swishy in her satin and tat,
and her frock coat and bippety boppety hat

Shoes
(grinning soul)
01/27/04 05:08 AM
Re: When I'm five new [re: pablopicasso]  

i put these lines into google and got directed straight back to tw!
as i didn't know the song well i didn't realise the two lines weren't related

> I wonder why my daddy cries.

bowie, born in 1947, would have had parents who directly experienced the war and thus that line is self-explanatory
(to me)

> I get headaches in the morning.

well he sounds such an active kid, both in imagination and body etc, that he probably does things like read under the sheets at night when he's sposed to be asleep, which could give him headaches : stuff like that

tues night syd time - great tennis - roddick and saffin, 3rd set, one each



zigbot
(electric tomato)
01/28/04 08:17 PM
Re: When I'm five new [re: pablopicasso]  

I always took the "I wonder why my daddy cries" line to suggest the innocence of the not-yet-five-year-old from who's perspective we hear this song. This boy is convinced all in life will be so much better if only he attains that magical age of 5. As if the difference between 4 and 5 were the difference between childhood and adulthood. (He observes he can't currently walk in the May Day Parade "'cuz I'm only 4 and grown-ups walk too fast"--as if a five-year-old can really hang with the grownups).

But he is puzzled as to why his daddy cries. He is not aware of real pain in the world. He is so single-mindedly convinced that life will be rosy after he grows up (i.e., in his head, he's a "grownup" at 5!). Yet he sees his father (who's way older than five), crying. That just doesn't make sense to him, 'cuz he's only four and doesn't understand the real pain that exists in the adult world.

As for the "I get headaches in the morning" line, I'm apt to agree with the theory that he's just a hyperactive little boy and may not always get the rest he needs, so he awakens often headachy and groggy.

Isn't this such a lovely song? I just love it to pieces, especially the last "when I'm . . . ." that fades off into a yawn instead of the full world "five," as though our little boy falls off into sleep during his little prayer to that "photograph of Jesus" that he can just have his wish and be a five-yaer-old.

But the daddy's crying is interesting, because it tells us that this little boy's problem load will surely not get lessened as he ages. In fact, unbeknonst to him, things will get worse.

Growing up sucks, doesn't it?

zigbot

Emil
(stardust savant)
01/29/04 02:57 AM
No, there's something wrong new [re: zigbot]  

I, for one, side with pablo's view that there is a more sinister undercurrent here. A 4-year-old who regularly (I presume) has headaches in the morning, then there is something wrong, right? Then you have to be hyperactive in a pathological sense.

Are we completely sure of the lyrics here? It couldn't be anything else than "I get headaches in the morning", could it?

It could also be, that Bowie was a hyperactive child who was plagued by headache as a little child himself and, when he wrote this lyric, didn't reflect very deep but just included it as one of the typical features of four-year-old-hood that he could think of. I don't know.

Another thing... Bowie did not want the song to be reissued on the Deram Anthology. Is that just because it's too silly ... or - in line with pablo's theory - too personal?



pablopicasso
(wild eyed peoploid)
01/29/04 03:43 AM
Re: No, there's something wrong new [re: Emil]  

In reply to:

I wonder why my daddy cries and how I wish that I was nearly five

When I'm five
I will catch a butterfly and eat it and I won't be sick
When I'm five
I will jump in puddles, laugh in church and marry my mum
And I'll let my daddy do the washing-up

If I close one eye, the people on that side can't see me
I get headaches in the morning and I rode on Freddie's tricycle
And everywhere was funny, when I ran down to the sweetshop
Then I fell and bleeded-up my knee and everybody soppied me


There's the lyrics, the headaches one is buried between two happy thoughts, but it is there like a deadly undercurrent.

It was Strange this wasn't allowed on the Anthology album as it was the only officially released song which wasn't (although there are longer edits of Space Oddity and Ching-a-ling which weren't either). All three tracks are available on the Pickwick CD reissue of the LYTT album). I also think it is strange that Bowie was still singing and demoing this song as late as 1969, when, if you listen to it, it seems like a derivative of "There is a Happy land", even sharing some of the melody lines.Going back to my original point though, most of the Deram material had a darker meaning when you scratched the surface, when on first listen it just seems a jaunty sixties style album.

Beatle boys, all snowy white
Razzle dazzle clubs, every night
Wish I'd sent a Valentine
I love you


Emil
(stardust savant)
01/29/04 05:55 AM
Re: No, there's something wrong new [re: pablopicasso]  

That's how the lyrics are written out on TW, but I doubt that there exists an official printed lyrics endorsed by Bowie. (Not on my copy of LYTT!) English is not my mother tongue, so I wonder whether it's possible that the line can have been misheard by whoever transcribed it?

Let me restate my theory about why Bowie resisted the reissuing of WIF (which has only been officially released on the LYTT soundtrack, and in a cover version by the Beatstalkers, right?). The lines we are discussing may in fact hint at some deeply personal details of Bowie's childhood and he didn't want that released on CD, that's my little theory.



pablopicasso
(wild eyed peoploid)
01/29/04 06:35 AM
Re: No, there's something wrong new [re: Emil]  

That it is written about something personal sounds feasible to me.
Even before reading the lyrics I always thought it was headaches and there is no other English words that would fit.

Oh, except for Haddock, and kippers are more traditional for breakfast

Beatle boys, all snowy white
Razzle dazzle clubs, every night
Wish I'd sent a Valentine
I love you


diamondogz74
(crash course raver)
01/29/04 07:30 AM
Re: No, there's something wrong new [re: pablopicasso]  

Fascinating post there Pablo,Those lyrics now you mention them in that way!,They do seem to have a dark undertone to them,When i first heard that that track,I just thought it was a child of a certain age wishing he was older(as we all did),Now the reverse is in order lol.It could be that the child is just experimenting with emotions( although a tad young to be that specific). I can remember being sunburnt when i was four years old,But thats it,To be able to remember feelings etc...Suggests to me a more deeper meaning?.Take also into consideration these words are being written by a song writer of Bowies talent,So maybe we are allowed a little bit of poetic license?.And i had'nt realized it was'nt on Anthology until you mentioned it!. I once read a review of Anthology on Amazon and it described these years in Bowies song writing as "Listen with Edgar Allan Poe",As opposed to "Listen with Mother",A review i found funny but somewhat disturbing also.
What is that Pickwick CD you mention Pablo please?.

London Bye Ta-Ta...

pablopicasso
(wild eyed peoploid)
01/29/04 08:08 AM
Re: No, there's something wrong new [re: diamondogz74]  

It's the only cd issue of the original Love you til tuesday soundtrack (1984 release), It however is different to the vinyl in the following ways...
Space oddity is a lot longer (most instrumental pieces on the end, nothing new just extended)
Ching-a-ling is the unedited version with Bowie's verse at the beginning, whereas the filmed version is just hutch and hermione on the verses with Bowie on the choruses.
Sell me a coat is the DB 1967 version without the feathers overdubs on the top.

They changed the cover too, with a 1966/67 picture of bowie looking like a young paul weller (this was around the time of the britpop explosion that this cd was released) surrounded by loads of clocks. it was released about 93 and is long deleted.

Beatle boys, all snowy white
Razzle dazzle clubs, every night
Wish I'd sent a Valentine
I love you


diamondogz74
(crash course raver)
01/29/04 09:57 AM
Re: No, there's something wrong new [re: pablopicasso]  

Thank you very much indeed,I can see im gonna have to go hunting yet again to find that,I also never realized there was all these different versions from the 1960s,Apart from from whats on Anthologies 27 tracks.I've seen the CD called London Boy,But i take it the versions are exactly the same as on Anthology?.

London Bye Ta-Ta...

pablopicasso
(wild eyed peoploid)
01/29/04 10:05 AM
Re: No, there's something wrong new [re: diamondogz74]  

As far as I know that is it as far as released stuff is concerned, however when you get to the unreleased.......


Beatle boys, all snowy white
Razzle dazzle clubs, every night
Wish I'd sent a Valentine
I love you


poorsoul
(acolyte)
01/30/04 01:04 AM
Broken Toadstools new [re: Emil]  

In reply to:

Bowie did not want the song to be reissued on the Deram Anthology. Is that just because it's too silly...?



With The Laughing Gnome on there, I hardly think so.

I Forgot To Change It Before

poorsoul
(acolyte)
01/30/04 01:11 AM
Library new [re: Shoes]  

In reply to:

> I wonder why my daddy cries.

Bowie, born in 1947, would have had parents who directly experienced the war and thus that line is self-explanatory
(to me).



There are also these lines:

"Daddy shouted loud at mummy"

"I will jump in puddles, laugh in church and marry my mum
And I'll let my daddy do the washing-up"

These seemed to suggest some some of domestic strife, which I took to be abuse, though now that I think of it there doesn't seem to be any evidence to support that assumption.

I Forgot To Change It Before

Emil
(stardust savant)
01/30/04 04:56 AM
Good ole' Oedipus new [re: poorsoul]  

In reply to:

and marry my mum
And I'll let my daddy do the washing-up


That is a perfectly normal wish at the developmental stage of a four-year-old boy. On the contrary, it's the lines that Pablo originally brought up that disturb me the most. Plus, possibly, the one about daddy shouting loud at mummy.



diamondogz74
(crash course raver)
01/30/04 07:08 AM
Re: Good ole' Oedipus new [re: Emil]  

I have since looked this morning at the video for "When Im Five",Looking into Bowies child-like face and mannerisums,I can see a definate cheeky/devilish grin on his face.Its brilliant acting of course,But as for having dark undertones?,Im not that sure now,Can any of us remember that far back?,Did'nt everything seem larger than life when we were five?.
Im pretty sures its just a childs over active imagination.

London Bye Ta-Ta...

diamondogz74
(crash course raver)
01/30/04 07:41 AM
Re: Good ole' Oedipus new [re: Emil]  

Adults ar'nt allowed there,Go away Sir mister grown-up.

London Bye Ta-Ta...

pablopicasso
(wild eyed peoploid)
01/30/04 08:05 AM
Re: Good ole' Oedipus new [re: diamondogz74]  

Maybe the little Bombadier had been avisiting

Beatle boys, all snowy white
Razzle dazzle clubs, every night
Wish I'd sent a Valentine
I love you


diamondogz74
(crash course raver)
01/30/04 09:50 AM
Re: Good ole' Oedipus new [re: pablopicasso]  

Yeah maybe he has been??? LOL,But hey was,nt he booted out of town?.Perhaps hes snuck back into the ABC to see those four bright eyes gaze longingly?,At that ice-cream in his hand:-)

London Bye Ta-Ta...

poorsoul
(acolyte)
02/01/04 01:36 AM
Freud Was A Coke-Freak new [re: Emil]  

In reply to:

That is a perfectly normal wish at the developmental stage of a four-year-old boy.



I don't know what sort of childhood you had but I'd hardly consider that normal.

I Forgot To Change It Before

zigbot
(electric tomato)
02/01/04 06:45 PM
Re: Freud Was A Coke-Freak new [re: poorsoul]  

I WOULD consider it normal for a four-year-old whose father is distant and unhlepful around the house. He doesn't need to be PHYSICALLY abusive to mummy. All he has to do is "shout" "loud" at her. And he doesn't have to actually be mean. He just has to be a bit clueless, and unwilling to share in household (or parenting?) repsonsibilities.

The dad in this song is just this type of distant person, and the boy singing it already figures--at the age of four--that he'll be a better husband than his father. So he kind of dreams of marrying his mum and then letting daddy do the washing up--jsut to give daddy a tast of his own medicine.

Don't know if David's father was this way. I suspect he wasn't much help around the house--most men of his generation (and sadly, even our OWN generation) weren't. He may have been somewhat emotionally distant, too, though, as most men of his time felt their primary contribution as a father was to hold down a job and bring home enough money so that mummy could raise the kids. In real life, I have heard David was very close to his father, though, and that most of the emotional distance in his upbringing came from his mother.

Interestingly, I don't recall anythign derogatory said in the When I'm Five lyrics about mummy. And I'm sure that if it were completely autobigraphical, David would have gotten a few punches in.

So, overall, I don't think he excluded the song from the anthology becuase it was "deeply personal." I think the presumed "good" mummy, alone, ensures this song is NOT entirely autobiographical.

Love the song, though. It actually SOUNDS like the kind of things four-year-olds think about--at least to me. Maybe that's because I had a shit childhood on a number of levels.

zigbot

pablopicasso
(wild eyed peoploid)
02/01/04 06:55 PM
Re: Freud Was A Coke-Freak new [re: zigbot]  

I like this song and others from this period a lot too, they show what the boy was going to become when he had lived some more.




Put a Bullet in my brain and it makes all the papers


Starlite
(cracked actor)
02/01/04 08:13 PM
But sometimes a cigar ISN'T a cigar... new [re: zigbot]  

It doesn't even necessarily have to be that the father was distant or abusive and so the kid thinks he can give his mother a better life.

It IS perfectly normal for little boys towant to marry their mothers. When you're 4, you think your mother is the most wonderful, beautiful person on earth. You also don't know what marriage really is. And the only example of it you have are your parents, so combining it all together, youcan't think of anyone better to marry than your mother.

I've heard lots of little kids say that they want to marry their mother when they grow up. I've also read a lot of semi-biographical 19th century literature where kids say that. 9not because there was anything specific about that time period, but just because realism and those type of childhood stories were "in" back then.)

Next time somebody calls you a name, say, "That's not what your dad says," or simply, "I had sex with your dad." At first it might seem weird, and your friends may be horrified, but they'll grow to see the humor in it.
--Glitterbot


Emil
(stardust savant)
02/02/04 04:17 AM
What is it with Americans and incest new [re: Starlite]  

At least Starlite knows what I am getting at, thank you very much. And furthermore, quite apart from the factual circumstances about Bowie himself, he sure enough knew that it would be typical to ascribe those feelings to a four-year-old.

All the rest of you, you have some psychology literature to catch up on.

Everybody... Of all the posts in this forum, this particular post will remain with me the longest.

zigbot
(electric tomato)
02/03/04 07:30 PM
Psychology 101 new [re: Emil]  

In reply to:

All the rest of you, you have some psychology literature to catch up on.


I'll get started, then!

zigbot

Tuesday27
(wild eyed peoploid)
02/09/04 06:16 PM
Re: When I'm five new [re: pablopicasso]  

Something that's been on my mind lately: How can one see a photograph of Jesus? Is there any significance in this rather unusual use of terminology, or was the word just placed in there out of convenience?



zigbot
(electric tomato)
02/09/04 08:37 PM
Re: When I'm five new [re: Tuesday27]  

Of course you can't see a "photograph" of Jesus, but remember that the song is sung from the perspective of a four-year-old boy who longs to be five. I gather a whole lot of four-year-olds would describe an icon of Jesus as a "photograph." I love that phrasing because it reminds us of the innocence of the child from whose point of view the song is sung.

zigbot


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