Music and Lyrics
Zion consisted of Bowie's "la las" with Mike Garson playing piano, Mick Ronson playing guitar, and Mellotron (using the "flute" tapes, similar or identical to those used by the Beatles on "Strawberry Fields Forever") by someone unknown (probably Bowie). There are also Mellotron "string" parts, probably also played by Bowie. Bowie played similar Mellotron parts on Diamond Dogs. This would evolve into the passage from "Sweet Thing (Reprise)" to "Rebel Rebel" on Diamond Dogs.
Other names for this track are "Aladdin Vein," "Love Aladdin Vein," "A lad in vein," and "Tragic Moments." The first three are meant to recreate the pun that was Aladdin Sane (a lad insane,) by changing the last word to Vein. (A lad in vein) The other name, "Tragic Moments," was named after an act in the aborted 1984 musical Bowie was creating during the Diamond Dogs sessions.
When It Was Recorded
It is said that Bowie recorded it at Trident Studios in 1973 during the Aladdin Sane sessions. Although there was an interview by Martin Hayman at the end of the Pinups sessions at the Château d'Hérouville that had Bowie play Zion and said it was a demo for the next album (Diamond Dogs) and was going to be used in the new 1984 musical which Bowie was planning at the time.
Pegg, Nicholas, The Complete David Bowie, Reynolds & Hearn Ltd, 2000, ISBN 1-903111-14-5