Who – Athena

I felt like a pickled priest
Who was being flambed

No one writes like Pete Townshend…bless him. I’ve come to really like Eminence Front but when this album came out, this is the song that I drawn to at first.

The song was written about actress Theresa Russell who Pete had a crush on that the time. He did a demo at the time called “Teresa for the Face Dances Album. She was then going with Nic Roeg. By the time The Who came to record the song for It’s Hard, Teresa Russell had wed Nic Roeg. The guitarist was nervous about publicly naming his crush so he renamed it “Athena.” What Pete’s then-wife Karen Astley felt about this we don’t know.

The song reached #28 in the Billboard 100, #5 in Canada, and #40 in the UK in 1982.

Roger Daltrey felt that concealing the subject of the song’s true identity was a mistake. “Pete was talking to me about Nick Roeg’s girlfriend and how he fancied her, and that song was written about her – but then it changed into ‘She’s a bomb’.

Roger Daltrey:  I’ve got a psychological problem with it,” “It’s a great record; there’s so much energy on that thing, but I still don’t think there’s a center to that song. The fact that he changed the title in that and didn’t stick to what it was supposed to be lost its center to me.”

Pete Townshend: The song was written after I had been to see The Wall with my friend Bill Minkin and the actress Theresa Russell who was about to marry the film director Nic Roeg with whom I hoped to work on a new version of Lifehouse. I got drunk as usual, but I had taken my first line of cocaine that very evening before meeting her and decided I was in love. When I came to do the vocal on the following day I was really out of my mind with frustration and grief because she didn’t reciprocate

From Songfacts

Pete Townshend wrote this song the day after he was knocked back by American actress Theresa Russell.

The guitarist told TheWho.net how he went to see The Wall with his friend Bill Minkin and Russell. (The actress was engaged to the film director Nic Roeg with whom he was planning to work on a new version of Lifehouse.) “I got drunk as usual, but I had taken my first line of cocaine that very evening before meeting her and decided I was in love,” Townshend explained. “When I came to do the vocal on the following day [February 15, 1980] I was really out of my mind with frustration and grief because she didn’t reciprocate.”

Teresa Demo

Athena

I had no idea how much I need her
In peaceful times I hold her close and I feed her
My heart starts palpitating
When I think my guess was wrong
But I think I’ll get alone
She’s just a girl
She’s a bomb

Athena
All I ever want to do is please her
My life has been so settled
And she’s the reason
Just one word from her
And my troubles are long gone
But I think I’ll get along
She’s just a girl
She’s a bomb
She’s a bomb
Just a girl, just a girl
Just a girl, just a girl
Just a girl, just a girl
She’s just a girl

Athena
My heart felt like a shattered glass in an acid bath
I felt like one of those flattened ants
You find on a crazy path
I’d have stopped myself to give her time
She didn’t need to ask
Was I a suicidal psychopath
She’s just a girl
She’s a bomb
She’s just a girl
She’s a bomb
Consumed
There was a beautiful white horse
I saw on a dream stage
He had a snake the size of a sewer pipe
Livin’ in his rib cage

I felt like a pickled priest
Who was being flambed
You’ve got me requisitioned blondie
She’s just a girl
She’s a bomb
I’m happy
She’s a bomb
I’m ecstatic
Just a girl, just a girl
Just a girl, just a girl
Just a girl, just a girl
Just a girl

Look into the face of a child
Measure how long you smiled
Before the mem’ry claimed
How long would children remain
How long could children remain

Athena
You picked me up by my lapels
And screamed “leave her”
I felt like waking up in heaven
On an empty meter
And now you’re stuck
With a castrated leader
And I hate the creep
I didn’t mean that
She’s a bomb
I just said it
She’s a bomb
Please She’s a bomb

Athena
I had no idea how much I need her
My life has been so settled
And she’s the reason
Just one word from her
And my troubles are long gone
Ooh but I get along
She’s just a girl
She’s a bomb
She’s just a girl
She’s a bomb