Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Forgotten Music: The Monkees - Goin' Down (1967)

Many people have made fun of The Monkees as the "Pre-fab Four," a Beatles knock off, and while it is true that they were often totally controlled in the studio by their producers, record label, and, of course, TV in the end we all realized they were a talented bunch of guys. It's to their credit that they later rebelled to became a real band.

I bought a whole bunch of The Monkees' singles on their red, white, and black Colgems label back in the day and because one of these purchases was their 1967 hit single "Daydream Believer" I was also treated to one of the best b-sides I've ever heard anywhere, "Goin' Down." It's an original song that was never released on one of their main albums.

The quartet's best singer, Mickey Dolenz took the lead vocal and Wikipedia states that Peter Tork and Mike Nesmith played guitars. Long ago I was told that Al Hirt played trumpet but I've found absolutely nothing to back that story up.

All four Monkees received a composing credit along with a folk singer named Diane Hilderbrand.

According to Tork, as quoted on the website Songfacts, the track "was based on Mose Allison's "Parchment Farm." It's about a drunken guy who "ends it all" by jumping into the river, and immediately regrets it as he's "Goin' Down." Fortunately our protagonist lives and floats his way down to New Orleans.

Dolenz was the obvious choice to sing "Goin' Down." The star proved he could sing jazz and take control of a song, something all of the best vocalists regularly do. The outrageous speed and vocal dexterity the ex-Monkee showed us on this record is mind boggling. I don't know many singers who can do what he did throughout the entire four minutes and I just can't see Davy Jones possessing the same intensity the drummer gave us here. No matter what you think of The Monkees this song and video announced loud and clear that they were not a joke.

"Goin' Down" was later used in a sequence on the respected TV series, Breaking Bad.

Here are the frantic lyrics.

The video below shows Dolenz to be a consummate performer.

2 comments:

  1. Always one of my favorites of the Monkees recordings, and indeed one of the better jazz-pop performances of the decade.

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  2. Highly unlikely it was Al Hirt, who was not one of the LA session players. Bud Brisbois was on the session and he was an extreme high note guy so I'm pretty sure that's him.

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