Elster's World

Sunday, February 26, 2006

We're Going Down

There are many themes which permeate the world of music - love, hate, death and life - to name just a few. These themes flutter in and out of almost every artist’s collection of music.

One such concept that I have recently stumbled across is a vertical one. Specifically, rock and roll artists’ fascination with going down.

Sometimes it’s simply directional. Jimi Hendrix tells us that Joe is going way down South, way down South to Mexico in order to flee the law after killing his woman. Dylan is goin’ to Acapulco, goin’ on the run. The Men at Work come from a land Down Under. And Creedence Clearwater Revival tells us that Willie and the Po' Boys are playing down on the corner. Let’s not forget Paul Simon and Julio down by the schoolyard. Zeppelin advises us that if you’re goin’ down South they go no work to do if you don’t know about Chicago. The Charlie Daniel’s Band even let us in on that time the Devil went down to Georgia. Zeppelin sings of being down by the seaside in a moving ode to nature. Alison Krausz is going down to the river to pray in the movie Oh Brother Where Art Thou?

“Take me down” is a very popular refrain in music as well. Take me down to the underground, why oh why, there is no light, asks Smashing Pumpkins. Take me down to the Paradise City where the grass is green and the girls are pretty, scream Guns N’ Roses. And dammit, you better do what they say. Take me down, take me down from the shelf above your head, pleads Pink Floyd at Ibza Bar. Phil Collins and Alabama both have songs called Take Me Down (at least according to Google they do).

Oh, going down can certainly be to the Bad Place - And I'm going down, all the way down…I'm on the highway to hell – is AC/DC’s message of the damned. It also can be a bad thing, like Talking Head’s burning down the house.

Sometimes we beg. Don’t let the sun go down on me (Elton John) and Don’t let me down (the Beatles). Sometimes it’s a state of mind. I’m down, I’m really down. How can you laugh, when you know I’m down (The Beatles). Sometimes we threaten. I won’t back down, warns Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.

But it also is slang for what’s happening. Stop hey what’s that sound everyone look what’s going down (Buffalo Springfield gets props for this use).

It can also be part of a selfless act for another. Like a bridge over troubled waters, I will lay me down say Simon and Garfunkle.

And oh, the inspiration it gives us. I get knocked down, but I get up again, you’re never gonna keep me down, exclaims Chumbawumba.

Sometimes you have to dig and dig until you hit the word, like in Arlo Guthrie’s classic, "Alice’s Restaurant” We didn't find one (a garbage dump) . Until we came to a side road, and off the side of the side road there was another fifteen foot cliff and at the bottom of the cliff there was another pile of garbage. And we decided that one big pileis better than two little piles, and rather than bring that one up we decided to throw ours down. But damn it’s so worth it when you finally get there.


  • Going down has its benefits.

    By Blogger Jack's Shack, at 6:58 PM  

  • Wow JS. No comment on your comment. :)

    I listen to this white christian rapper named John Rueben. He's funny. He dippity does.

    Other than chumbawumba and Simon and Garfunkle, I had no idea what you were talking about...

    By Blogger Miss Nibbles, at 1:20 AM  

  • js - This is a family site (though thinly veiled references are always welcome).

    mn - The it's definately time to expand your musical horizons.

    By Blogger Elster, at 9:14 AM  

  • "Down by the river, I shot my baby"-Neil Young.
    I respect you for referencing Dylan from the Basement Tapes.

    By Blogger Jewboy, at 8:35 PM  

  • Down by the river/riverside is also quite a popular refrain -off the top of my head, I got Clapton and Zeppelin, though probably dozens of blues musicians too

    By Blogger Elster, at 8:53 PM  

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