Goin' Down Slow

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"Going Down Slow"
Single by St. Louis Jimmy
A-side "Monkey Face Blues"
Released 1941 (1941)–42
Format 10" 78 rpm record
Recorded Chicago, November 11, 1941
Genre Blues
Length 3:10
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[1] and "one of the most famous blues of all".[2] "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.[3]

Original song[edit]

"Goin' Down Slow" "is the lament of a high roller who is dying":[1]

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
or common time in the key of B.[4][5] 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.[6]

"Goin' Down Slow" was Oden's most famous song[7] 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[edit]

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.


In 2002, St. Louis Jimmy Oden's "Goin' Down Slow" was inducted into the Blues Foundation Hall of Fame in the "Classics of Blues Recordings--Singles or Album Tracks" category.[8]

Other versions[edit]

According to one author, "Few blues songs have stood the test of time as enduringly as "Goin' Down Slow".[9] It has been recorded by many musical artists, including:


  1. ^ a b Herzhaft, Gerard (1992). "Going Down Slow". Encyclopedia of the Blues. University of Arkansas Press. p. 449. ISBN 1-55728-252-8. 
  2. ^ ‹See Tfm›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. 
  3. ^ a b Whitburn, Joel (1988). Top R&B Singles 1942–1988. Record Research, Inc. p. 46. ISBN 0-89820-068-7. 
  4. ^ The Blues. Hal Leonard Corporation. 1995. pp. 90–91. ISBN 0-7935-5259-1. 
  5. ^ The original recording is in B.
  6. ^ Usually a washtub bass or jug.
  7. ^ Shadwick, Keith (2001). "St Louis Jimmy Oden". The Encyclopedia of Jazz & Blues. Oceana. p. 368. ISBN 978-0-681-08644-9. 
  8. ^ "Classic of Blues Recording — Singles or Album Tracks". Blues Hall of Fame — 2002 Inductees. The Blues Foundation. 2002. Retrieved May 19, 2013. 
  9. ^ Dahl, Bill (1996). Erlewine, Michael, ed. All Music Guide to the Blues. Miller Freeman Books. p. 204. ISBN 0-87930-424-3. 
  10. ^ "Albert Castiglia – Solid Ground | Album Review". Blues Blast Magazine. 2014-06-09. Retrieved 2016-01-10.