Athena (song)

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Athena 1982.jpg
Single by The Who
from the album It's Hard
Released4 September 1982
RecordedJune 1982
Songwriter(s)Pete Townshend
Producer(s)Glyn Johns
The Who singles chronology
"Don't Let Go the Coat"
"Eminence Front"

"Athena" (the working title being "Theresa") is a song written by Pete Townshend and recorded by The Who. It appears as the first track on the group's tenth album It's Hard, released in 1982. Written for actress Theresa Russell, the song was the first single from It's Hard. The single was a moderate success reaching the top 40 in both Britain and America.


"Athena" was originally written by Pete Townshend after an encounter with the American actress Theresa Russell.[1][2][3] After seeing a Pink Floyd performance on their Wall Tour, with Russell and his friend, Bill Minkin, Townshend was rejected by the actress when he attempted to romance her. Townshend said of the incident:

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 [Feb. 15, 1980] I was really out of my mind with frustration and grief because she didn't reciprocate.[1]

Under the working title "Theresa," the song's name was changed to "Athena."[1] Despite this alteration, Townshend still felt the song was too personal, claiming, "It was just too revealing."[2] Roger Daltrey, however, disliked the song for this change.

No, I never liked that song ["Athena"]. It's a great record. I think what happened with that song, it was originally called "Theresa" and then 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' and I think I've got a psychological problem with it. I listened to it on the record the other day, and 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.

— Roger Daltrey, The News of the World, 2010[3]

A demo for the original "Theresa" was first recorded and presented to The Who by Pete Townshend during the Face Dances sessions.[4] However, the song was not used until It's Hard.

On "Athena" Roger Daltrey and Townshend share lead vocals.[5] John Entwistle also adds horns to the track.[2]


"Athena" was released as the first single from It's Hard, backed with "A Man Is a Man" in Britain and "It's Your Turn" in America. The single achieved moderate chart success, reaching number 28 on the US Billboard Hot 100, but received good airplay on album-oriented rock and later classic rock radio formats. "Athena" also reached number 40 on the UK Singles Chart, making it both the band's last UK and US top 40 single.[2] The single also reached number five in Canada.

In addition to appearing on It's Hard, "Athena" also was released on both The Ultimate Collection and the deluxe edition of The Who Hits 50! compilation albums.

Live performances[edit]

The Who only played "Athena" a total of ten times on the band's 1982 tour, and have not played the song again ever since.

On October 30, 2017, at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater Florida, Roger Daltrey performed "Athena" live for the first time in 35 years.[6]


  1. ^ a b c Cady, Brian. "'It's Hard' liner notes". Archived from the original on 2015-02-20.
  2. ^ a b c d Grantley, Steve; Parker, Alan. The Who by Numbers: The Story of the Who Through Their Music. Helter Skelter.
  3. ^ a b "Athena". Song Facts.
  4. ^ Cady, Brian. "'Face Dances' liner notes". Archived from the original on 2014-12-19.
  5. ^ Townshend, Pete (2012). Pete Townshend: Who I Am. Great Britain: HarperCollinsPublishers. ISBN 978-0-00-746603-0.
  6. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2017-10-31. Retrieved 2017-10-31.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)

External links[edit]