Joe The Lion

Songfacts®:

  • This track is in part a tribute to American conceptual artist Chris Burden (April 11, 1946 - May 10, 2015), who once famously nailed himself to a Volkswagen Beetle. Bowie wrote the lyrics in Berlin's Hansa Studio by the Wall while recording his Heroes album.

    Joe the lion
    Went to the bar
    A couple of drinks on the house and he said
    'Tell you who you are if you nail me to my car'


    Burden's famous Trans-Fixed piece took place on April 23, 1974 at Speedway Avenue in Venice, California. For his work, the artist lay face up on a Volkswagen and had nails hammered into both of his hands.

    Joe the lion
    Made of iron


    Burden lay on the Volkswagen, in the cruciform position. Bowie likens him here to a cross of iron.
  • Bowie borrowed the bass line from another of his songs, the Hunky Dory track "Changes."

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