Joe the Lion

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"Joe the Lion"
Song by David Bowie
from the album "Heroes"
Released 14 October 1977
Recorded Hansa Studio by the Wall, West Berlin
July–August 1977
Genre Art rock, krautrock
Length 3:05
Label RCA
Songwriter(s) David Bowie
Producer(s) David Bowie, Tony Visconti

"Joe the Lion" is a song written by David Bowie in 1977 for the album "Heroes". It was produced by Bowie and Tony Visconti and features lead guitar by Robert Fripp. Like the album as a whole, the song demonstrates the influence of German Krautrock.[citation needed]

The track is in part a tribute to performance artist Chris Burden,[1] who was famous for having himself nailed to a Volkswagen in 1974 ("Nail me to my car and I'll tell you who you are") and for having an assistant shoot him in the arm at an art gallery in 1971 ("Guess you'll buy a gun / You'll buy it secondhand"). "Joe the Lion" has also been seen as reflecting Bowie's struggle to overcome the emotional numbness that appeared to permeate his previous album Low ("You get up and sleep").[2]

Bowie played the song live on the 1983 Serious Moonlight and 1995 Outside tours, and was considered (but ultimately not performed) for his 1987 Glass Spider Tour.

Other releases[edit]

  • It was released as the B-side of the US release of "John, I’m Only Dancing (Again)" in December 1979.
  • It appeared on the following compilations:
  • A remixed version, which replaced the distorted guitars and drums of the original with those reflecting late-1980s production values, was included in the Rykodisc reissue of "Heroes" in 1991.
  • Momus performed a cover version of "Joe the Lion" for his 2015 album Turpsycore.


  1. ^ David Buckley (1999). Strange Fascination – David Bowie: The Definitive Story: p.320
  2. ^ Roy Carr & Charles Shaar Murray (1981). Bowie: An Illustrated Record: p.92

External links[edit]