Goin' Down Slow
|"Going Down Slow"|
|Single by St. Louis Jimmy|
|A-side||"Monkey Face Blues"|
|Format||10" 78 rpm record|
|Recorded||Chicago, November 11, 1941|
|Label||Bluebird (no. 8889B)|
|Writer(s)||James B. Oden aka St. Louis Jimmy|
"Goin' Down Slow" or "Going Down Slow" is a blues song composed by American blues singer St. Louis Jimmy Oden. It is considered a blues standard and "one of the most famous blues of all". "Goin' Down Slow" has been recorded by many blues and other artists, notably Howlin' Wolf and Bobby Bland, whose rendition was a hit in both the Billboard R&B and Pop singles charts.
"Goin' Down Slow" "is the lament of a high roller who is dying":
- I have had my fun, if I don't get well no more (2×)
- My health is failing me, and I'm goin' down slow
- Please write my mother, tell her the shape I'm in (2×)
- Tell her to pray for me, forgive me for my sin ...
The song is a moderately slow-tempo twelve-bar blues, notated in 4
4 or common time in the key of B. Oden, as St. Louis Jimmy, recorded it in Chicago on November 11, 1941. It was released as a single by Bluebird Records and featured Oden's vocal with accompaniment by Roosevelt Sykes on piano and Alfred Elkins on "imitation" bass.
"Goin' Down Slow" was Oden's most famous song and he later recorded several versions, including in 1955 for Parrot Records and in 1960 for Bluesville Records. He and Sykes continued their musical partnership well into the 1960s.
Howlin' Wolf version
Howlin' Wolf recorded "Goin' Down Slow" for Chess Records in 1961. Wolf (vocal and guitar) recorded the song as a Chicago blues, with Henry Gray (piano), Hubert Sumlin and Jimmy Rogers (guitars), Willie Dixon (bass), and Sam Lay (drums). Dixon also provided a narrative, alternating with Wolf's vocal passages:
- Now looka here, I did not say I was a millionaire
- But I said I have spent more money than a millionaire
- 'Cause if I had've kept all my money that I'd already spent
- I would've been a millionaire a looong time ago ...
It was released in 1961 as a single between his "Little Red Rooster" and "I Ain't Superstitious" releases and included on his second compilation album Howlin' Wolf aka Rocking Chair Album in 1962. Wolf re-recorded the song in 1970 during The London Howlin' Wolf Sessions with Eric Clapton (guitar), Klaus Voorman (bass), Ringo Starr (drums), and Jeffery Carp (harmonica), which released as a bonus track in 2003.
According to one author, "Few blues songs have stood the test of time as enduringly as "Goin' Down Slow". It has been recorded by many musical artists, including:
- 1949 – Ray Charles as "I've Had My Fun" single (SwingTime 215); also in 1966 from Crying Time
- 1958 – Champion Jack Dupree from the album Blues from the Gutter
- 1960 – Little Walter as "I Had My Fun" single (Checker 945)
- 1962 – B.B. King single (Kent 383); also in 1974 with Bobby Bland from Together for the First Time... Live
- 1963 – Jimmy Witherspoon from Blues Around the Clock
- 1964 – Davey Graham from Folk, Blues and Beyond
- 1964 - The Paul Butterfield Blues Band from The Original Lost Elektra Sessions
- 1966 – The Animals from Animalism
- 1967 – Canned Heat from Canned Heat
- 1967 – Aretha Franklin from Aretha Arrives
- 1968 – Free from Tons of Sobs
- 1968 – The Electric Flag as a bonus track on a reissue of A Long Time Comin'
- 1971 – Eric Burdon and Jimmy Witherspoon from Guilty!
- 1972 – Duane Allman from An Anthology
- 1972 – Led Zeppelin as part of the live "Whole Lotta Love" medley from How the West Was Won (released in 2003)
- 1974 – Bobby Bland single (Dunhill 4379), reached Billboard #17 R&B & #69 Pop
- 1994 – Huey Lewis and the News from Four Chords & Several Years Ago
- 1998 – Eric Clapton from Pilgrim
- 2003 – Jeff Beck and Tom Jones from Red, White and Blues soundtrack
- 2006 - Guy Davis from Skunkmello
- 2011 - Patrice O'Neal on the Opie & Anthony Show with Warren Haynes
- Herzhaft, Gerard (1992). "Going Down Slow". Encyclopedia of the Blues. University of Arkansas Press. p. 449. ISBN 1-55728-252-8.
- Demetre, Jacques; adapted by Waterhouse, Don (1994). The Prewar Blues Story (Media notes). Various Artists. Best of Blues Records. p. 25. Best of Blues 20.
- Whitburn, Joel (1988). Top R&B Singles 1942–1988. Record Research, Inc. p. 46. ISBN 0-89820-068-7.
- The Blues. Hal Leonard Corporation. 1995. pp. 90–91. ISBN 0-7935-5259-1.
- The original recording is in B♭.
- Usually a washtub bass or jug.
- Shadwick, Keith (2001). "St Louis Jimmy Oden". The Encyclopedia of Jazz & Blues. Oceana. p. 368. ISBN 978-0-681-08644-9.
- "Classic of Blues Recording — Singles or Album Tracks". Blues Hall of Fame — 2002 Inductees. The Blues Foundation. 2002. Retrieved May 19, 2013.
- Dahl, Bill (1996). Erlewine, Michael, ed. All Music Guide to the Blues. Miller Freeman Books. p. 204. ISBN 0-87930-424-3.