“Wasted Years” is a song by the English heavy metal band Iron Maiden. It is the band’s fourteenth single released and the first from their sixth studio album, Somewhere in Time (1986). It is the only song on the album that features no synthesizers. Released in 1986, it was the first single solely written by guitarist Adrian Smith, who also sings backing vocals.
The song deals with subject of homesickness and alienation, as well as the negative aspects of the band’s nearly year long previous tour and personal problems that Smith and other band members were going through in that period. At the same time the chorus suggests the idea that one should move beyond past troubles and look forward. The original working title was “Golden Years”.
The cover depicts the band mascot Eddie’s point of view as he flies a time machine. Only a part of Eddie’s face is seen, as a reflection in a screen. According to artist Derek Riggs, this is because the band did not want to reveal the mascot in his new cyborg guise until the album was released a few weeks later. As with the Somewhere in Time album sleeve, the single cover also features the TARDIS from the BBC series Doctor Who. Riggs describes the illustration as “a duffer. It’s a technical illustration of a keyboard of a time machine, with Eddie reflected in the window, because it was the only thing we could think of that wouldn’t give Eddie away”.
The promotional video features black-and-white footage of the band playing the song in a studio in Frankfurt, West Germany, mixed with various scenes from band’s previous promotional videos, together with clips of off-show activities during the World Slavery Tour.