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I'm Goin' Down

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"I'm Goin' Down"
Single by Bruce Springsteen
from the album Born in the U.S.A.
ReleasedAugust 1985
Format7" single, 12" Maxi single
RecordedMay 12, 1982
Studiothe Power Station
GenreHeartland rock[1]
Songwriter(s)Bruce Springsteen
Bruce Springsteen singles chronology
"Glory Days"
"I'm Goin' Down"
"My Hometown"
Born in the U.S.A. track listing

"I'm Goin' Down" is a song written and performed by American singer Bruce Springsteen that was released as the sixth single from his album Born in the U.S.A. in August 1985. The song is one of several of the album's tracks that he recorded with the E Street Band in May 1982 at the Power Station music studio. The release of these full-band tracks was put into question when Springsteen used solo material for his September 1982 LP, Nebraska, and considered doing the same for his next album, which would become Born in the U.S.A. He later decided to use several of the May 1982 recordings on Born in the U.S.A. "I'm Goin' Down" beat out contender "Pink Cadillac" for a spot on the album.

"I'm Goin' Down", which features a prominent drum performance and possesses an energetic feel, deals with the frustration of diminishing sexual activity in romantic relationships. As a single, it reached No. 9 in the United States and the top 40 in Sweden, Canada, and Italy. The song, which has received positive appraisal from critics, has not been performed often by Springsteen since his Born in the U.S.A. Tour; between 2009 and 2014, he played it at less than 12 percent of his concerts whose set lists his official website has published. Cover versions of "I'm Goin' Down" include renditions by Frank Black and the Catholics, Tim Armstrong, Free Energy, Vampire Weekend, Dessa, and Trampled by Turtles.

Background and recording[edit]

E Street Band saxophonist Clarence Clemons was among the musicians who performed on "I'm Goin' Down".[2]

In October 1980, Springsteen released his fifth album, The River.[3] For his next album, which would become Nebraska, he initially recorded a demo cassette by himself of over a dozen songs on January 3, 1982.[4][5] In April 1982,[4] he began recording sessions at the Power Station studio in New York City with the E Street Band[6]—whose line-up then consisted of Roy Bittan, Clarence Clemons, Danny Federici, Garry Tallent, Steve Van Zandt, and Max Weinberg—with production by Springsteen, Van Zandt, Jon Landau, and Chuck Plotkin.[7]

At first, Springsteen attempted full-band versions of Nebraska songs at these sessions, including "Atlantic City", "Nebraska", and "Mansion on the Hill".[8] However, he and his co-producers were unsatisfied with the group renditions of the demo songs.[8] To buy time to decide on a solution, by May the band had begun recording other material,[8] including "I'm Goin' Down", "Born in the U.S.A.", "Glory Days", "Downbound Train", "Darlington County", "Working on the Highway", and "I'm on Fire".[9][10] "I'm Goin' Down" was recorded on May 12.[11] Eventually, Springsteen decided to release the January demos as the Nebraska album,[12] which came out in September 1982,[13] such that "I'm Goin' Down" and other band tracks from May were temporarily shelved.[14]

In 1983, he did more songs with the E Street Band, but was considering instead recording his next album solo, like Nebraska.[10][15] By the following year, Landau and Plotkin had convinced Springsteen to release band tracks, including several from May 1982 and a number of subsequently recorded songs.[10][16] At one point, Springsteen was not going to include "I'm Goin' Down" on Born in The U.S.A., but later added it in place of "Pink Cadillac",[17][18] which he used as the B-side of the "Dancing in the Dark" single.[18]

Music and lyrics[edit]

"I'm Goin' Down" features an energetic rhythm,[2][19] propelled by a heavy drumbeat by Weinberg,[19] and contains a saxophone solo by Clemons.[2] The music has a basic chord progression of A–E–F#m–D.[20] In concerts in 1984, Springsteen introduced the song by describing the diminishing intimacy and sexual activity that can occur over the course of a romantic relationship:[11][21] "[First] you're making love to 'em all the time, three or four times a day. Then you come back a little bit later, and, uh-oh ... it's like 'Are you gonna make love to me tonight, or are we gonna wait for the full moon again', y'know?"[21] The song's lyrics include lines such as "I'm sick and tired of you setting me up / Setting me up just to knock-a knock-a knock-a me down" and "You used to love to drive me wild / But lately girl you get your kicks from just driving me down".[22] The lyrics later turn into a stream of gibberish syllables.[19]

Release and reception[edit]

The Born in the U.S.A. album was released on June 4, 1984,[1] and "I'm Goin' Down", the album's sixth single,[23] came out in August 1985.[24] The 7" single version includes B-side "Janey, Don't You Lose Heart" while the 12" Maxi has this and "Held Up Without a Gun".[24][a 1] In the United States, "I'm Goin' Down" entered the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart on September 7,[25] and peaked at No. 9 on October 26.[26] It was one of a record-tying seven top 10 singles to be released from Born in the U.S.A.[a 2] It also reached No. 13 in Sweden,[24] No. 23 in Canada,[27] No. 29 in Italy,[28] and No. 61 in Germany.[24] No music video was made for the song.[29] The track was additionally released on 12" Singles Collection in 1985,[30] and The Album Collection Vol. 1 1973–1984 in 2014.[31]

"I'm Goin' Down" has generally been well received by critics. Debbie Miller of Rolling Stone describes the song as "wonderfully exuberant" and "hilarious".[19] For Billboard's Caryn Rose, it is "a prime exemplar of the kind of good-time party song that Springsteen and E Street do best, sliding easily through the verses with a ... bouncing rhythm ... and a fun, jumping end".[2] Writer Chuck Klosterman, who is not a fan of Born in the U.S.A., nonetheless rates "I'm Goin' Down" as one of two decent tracks on the album.[32] A 2014 Rolling Stone article ranks "I'm Goin' Down" as the 52nd best Bruce Springsteen song ever.[33] In the book Counting Down Bruce Springsteen: His 100 Finest Songs, writer Jim Beviglia puts "I'm Goin' Down" as the 131st best Springsteen track,[34] calling it "a fun but relatively minor" work.[35] Critic Bruce Pollock lists it and several other Born in the U.S.A. tracks in Rock Song Index: The 7500 Most Important Songs for the Rock and Roll Era.[36] In Uncut magazine's 2015 Ultimate Collector's Edition: Springsteen, "I'm Goin' Down" is rated four stars out of five.[37]

Live performances[edit]

A fan in East Rutherford on May 21, 2009 requests "I'm Goin' Down". Springsteen performed the song at the concert.[38]

Springsteen has played "I'm Goin' Down" infrequently since the end of the Born in the U.S.A. Tour.[33] For Springsteen's tours since 2009, most of his set lists are available on his official website,[39] Of the concert dates whose set lists the website has published, Springsteen performed "I'm Goin' Down" 13 times out of 85 concerts on his Working on a Dream Tour in 2009,[38] 14 times out of 138 concerts on his Wrecking Ball World Tour in 2012–2013,[40][41] and three times out of 34 concerts on his High Hopes Tour in 2014[42]—for a total of 30 times out of 257 concerts. At some of these 30 shows, Springsteen played the entire Born in the U.S.A. album.[38][41][42]

Cover versions[edit]

Various musicians have covered "I'm Goin' Down". In 1998, Frank Black and the Catholics included a version on their "Dog Gone" single,[43] and in 2015 on The Complete Recordings.[44] In 2010, Free Energy performed the song live in Atlanta,[45] and released a version of the song as a single;[46] the same year, Vampire Weekend performed the song in Vancouver and Seattle,[47][48] as well as including a recording of the song on their iTunes Session;[49] their version also appeared on the TV soundtrack Girls, Vol. 2: All Adventurous Women Do... in 2014.[50] Rancid frontman Tim Armstrong put out a cover in 2012 as part of his Tim Timebomb and Friends collection,[51] and included it on his album Special Lunacy.[52] Dessa released a version on her 2013 album Parts of Speech,[53][54] and the following year, Trampled by Turtles did likewise on Dead Man's Town: A Tribute to Born in the U.S.A.[55][56]

Formats and track listing[edit]

  1. "I'm Goin' Down" – 3:29
  2. "Janey, Don't You Lose Heart" – 3:23
  1. "I'm Goin' Down" – 3:29
  2. "Janey, Don't You Lose Heart" – 3:23
  3. "Held Up Without a Gun" – 1:15


Chart (1985) Peak
Canadian RPM Singles Chart[27] 23
German Charts[24] 61
Italian Charts[28] 29
Swedish Charts[24] 13
US Billboard Hot 100[26] 9


  1. ^ "Janey, Don't You Lose Heart" was later released on 12" Single Collection (1985), Tracks (1998), and 18 Tracks (1999)—see Ward.
  2. ^ Michael Jackson's Thriller and Janet Jackson's Rhythm Nation 1814 also each share this record—see Rose 2014.


  1. ^ a b Ruhlmann: Born in the U.S.A.
  2. ^ a b c d Rose 2014
  3. ^ Ruhlmann: The River
  4. ^ a b Himes 2005, p. 79
  5. ^ Marsh 1987, pp. 103–104
  6. ^ Marsh 1987, pp. 113–114
  7. ^ Born in the USA CD cover
  8. ^ a b c Marsh 1987, p. 115
  9. ^ Marsh 1987, pp. 116–118
  10. ^ a b c 100 Best Albums of the Eighties
  11. ^ a b Heylin 2013, p. 255
  12. ^ Marsh 1987, p. 121
  13. ^ Ruhlmann: Nebraska
  14. ^ Marsh 1987, p. 118
  15. ^ Marsh 1987, pp. 157–158, 160–161, 164–165
  16. ^ Marsh 1987, pp. 167–171, 185
  17. ^ Himes 2005, p. 104
  18. ^ a b Marsh 1987, p. 178
  19. ^ a b c d e Miller 1984
  20. ^ "I'm Goin' Down" (
  21. ^ a b Carlin 2012, p. 323
  22. ^ "I'm Goin' Down" (
  23. ^ Marsh 1987, p. 402
  24. ^ a b c d e f g h Bruce Springsteen: I'm Goin' Down
  25. ^ Hot 100 Singles (September 7, 1985), p. 60
  26. ^ a b Bruce Springsteen: Chart History
  27. ^ a b Top Singles - Volume 43, No. 8, November 02, 1985
  28. ^ a b Indice per Interprete: S
  29. ^ Himes 2005, p. 105
  30. ^ Ruhlmann: 12" Single Collection
  31. ^ Erlewine
  32. ^ Klosterman 2004, p. 46
  33. ^ a b 100 Greatest Bruce Springsteen Songs of All Time
  34. ^ Beviglia 2014, p. 188
  35. ^ Beviglia 2014, p. 34
  36. ^ Pollock 2014, pp. 174, 497
  37. ^ Lewis 2015, p. 60
  38. ^ a b c d Live Dates: 2009
  39. ^ Live Dates
  40. ^ a b Live Dates: 2012
  41. ^ a b c Live Dates: 2013
  42. ^ a b c Live Dates: 2014
  43. ^ "Dog Gone" CD cover
  44. ^ Phares: The Complete Recordings
  45. ^ Breihan 2010
  46. ^ "I'm Goin' Down" – Single (Free Energy)
  47. ^ Dombal 2010
  48. ^ brandon 2010
  49. ^ Vampire Weekend: iTunes Session
  50. ^ Phares: Girls, Vol. 2: All Adventurous Women Do...
  51. ^ "I'm Goin' Down" (
  52. ^ Espinosa
  53. ^ Kpski 2013
  54. ^ Thomas
  55. ^ Christ 2014
  56. ^ Deming