Goin' Down Slow
|"Going Down Slow"|
|Single by St. Louis Jimmy|
|A-side||"Monkey Face Blues"|
|Format||10-inch 78 rpm record|
|Recorded||Chicago, November 11, 1941|
|Label||Bluebird (no. 8889B)|
|Writer(s)||James B. Oden a.k.a. 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 spoken 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 long time ago
And women? Well, Googly-Moogly!
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 a.k.a. 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.
Recognition and legacy
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. Writing for AllMusic, critic Bill Dahl notes "Few blues songs have stood the test of time as enduringly as 'Goin' Down Slow'." It has been recorded by many musical artists, including:
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- 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
- 1960 – Mance Lipscomb from Mance Lipscomb: Texas Sharecropper and Songster
- 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
- 1966 – Alan Price from The Price to Play The Alan Price Set
- 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'
- 1970 – Little Sonny from the Stax Records album "New King of Blues Harmonica"
- 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
- 2004 – Spiritualized wrote a homage with different words in 2004 on The Complete Works (album series)
- 2006 – Guy Davis from Skunkmello
- 2011 – Patrice O'Neal on the Opie & Anthony Show with Warren Haynes
- 2014? – Robin Williamson and John Renbourn
- 2014 – Albert Castiglia on Solid Ground
- Herzhaft, Gerard (1992). "Going Down Slow". Encyclopedia of the Blues. Fayetteville, Arkansas: 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. Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin: Record Research. p. 46. ISBN 0-89820-068-7.
- Hal Leonard (1995). The Blues. Milwaukee, Wisconsin: Hal Leonard. pp. 90–91. ISBN 0-79355-259-1.
- The original recording is in B♭.
- Usually a washtub bass or jug.
- Shadwick, Keith (2007). The Encyclopedia of Jazz & Blues. London: Quantum Publishing. p. 368. ISBN 978-0-681-08644-9.
- Blues Foundation (November 10, 2016). "2002 Hall of Fame Inductees: Going Down Slow – St. Louis Jimmy Oden (Bluebird, 1941)". The Blues Foundation. Retrieved February 8, 2017.
- Dahl, Bill (1996). "St. Louis Jimmy Oden". In Erlewine, Michael. All Music Guide to the Blues. San Francisco: Miller Freeman Books. p. 204. ISBN 0-87930-424-3.
- "Albert Castiglia – Solid Ground | Album Review". Blues Blast Magazine. 2014-06-09. Retrieved 2016-01-10.