Pallas Athena (song)

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"Pallas Athena"
Song by David Bowie
from the album Black Tie White Noise
Released5 April 1993
Songwriter(s)David Bowie
"Pallas Athena"
Bowie pallasathena.jpg
Single by David Bowie as Tao Jones Index
B-side"V-2 Schneider" (live)
Released26 August 1997
Format12" vinyl
RecordedParadiso, Amsterdam, Netherlands
10 June 1997
GenreDrum and bass, alternative dance, IDM
74321 51254 1
Songwriter(s)David Bowie
David Bowie singles chronology
"Seven Years in Tibet"
"Pallas Athena"
"I'm Afraid of Americans"

"Pallas Athena" is a song written by David Bowie in 1993 for the album Black Tie White Noise.

The name is taken from the Greek goddess, Athena, who is famously depicted in Athenian statues under the form of Pallas Athena. Hence, the name of the song is a suggestion of religion and icons and sets the mood for a dark piece concerning the power that religion has over man.

The lyrics are rather sparse, but the phrase beginning the piece, "God is on top of it, that's all," delivered as though from an African-American preacher, is ominous and intimidating, accompanied with the sound of strings delivering a sorrowful melody. The piece develops into a techno dance piece, using string sounds to hold the ominous mood while overlaid atop bass and drums. David Bowie's saxophone playing is amplified into a scream-like sound, which solos, along with Lester Bowie on trumpet. A lyric, "We are, we are, we are, we are praying," is repeated through the close of the song in a somber, monk-like fashion. Ultimately, the song restates Bowie's interest in how man relates with God.

Bowie used to play a drum'n'bass version of the song during his 1997 Earthling tour, and a live version recorded at Paradiso, Holland 10 June 1997 was released as a single under the name Tao Jones Index, a very limited edition only available on 12" vinyl. Bowie played as Tao Jones Index during his performance in a dance tent at Phoenix Festival in 1997. It is a pun based on his birth name, David Jones, and his then recent bond offering to the Dow Jones Index. Tao, a Chinese character pronounced "dao," not only stands for the Chinese equivalent to Bowie's first initial, "D", but also has heavy religious implications through its correlation to Taoism, therefore contributing to the religious overtones of "Pallas Athena." The Chinese character 道 means "the way" (the path, the route).

It was announced in March 2010 that a digital download EP would be made available in June 2010.[1]

Track listing[edit]

All tracks are written by David Bowie.

12": Arista / MEAT 1 (UK)[edit]

  1. "Pallas Athena" (Don't Stop Praying Remix No 2) - 7:24
  2. "Pallas Athena" (Don't Stop Praying Remix) - 5:36
  3. "Pallas Athena" (Gone Midnight Mix) - 4:21
  • UK 1993 promo
  • All mixes were untitled in the original release, with the titles provided on later reissues[2]
  • All remixes by Jack Dangers, Don't Stop Praying Remix No 2 and Gone Midnight Mix were not released elsewhere at the time

12": Arista / 74321 51254 1 (UK)[edit]

  1. "Pallas Athena (live)" - 8:18
  2. "V-2 Schneider (live)" - 6:45
  • Both tracks recorded live at Paradiso, Amsterdam 10-06-97.
  • Limited edition - 2,000 copies printed

2010 Digital Download EP[edit]

  1. "Pallas Athena (Album Version)" - 4:40
  2. "Pallas Athena (Don't Stop Praying Remix)" - 5:38
  3. "Pallas Athena (Don't Stop Praying Remix No. 2)" - 7.24
  4. "Pallas Athena (Gone Midnight mix)" - 4.20

Other releases[edit]

  • A remixed version of the song called "Don't Stop Praying Remix No 2" was released as a bonus track on the Japanese CD version of Black Tie White Noise as well as the tenth anniversary edition. The "Don't Stop Praying Remix No 1" appeared on the single "Jump They Say" along with the album version.
  • The live single version, mixed by Mark Plati, was released on the single "Seven Years in Tibet" in August 1997. This version also appeared on the bonus disc for the Digibook Expanded Edition of Earthling, the four-disc edition of the Sound + Vision box set, as well as the rare EP, Earthling in the City.
  • The Gone Midnight remix also appears on the four-disc edition of Sound + Vision, making "Pallas Athena" the only song to have more than one version on the album.


  1. ^ "BowieNet (March 26, 2010)". Retrieved 5 April 2010.
  2. ^ Altenburg, Ruud. "Pallas Athena (Arista MEAT 1)". The Illustrated db Discography. Retrieved 3 April 2008.