Goin’ Down by The Monkees – Great B-Sides

Famously, The Monkees started as a band created for a TV show – they were sometimes referred to as the Prefab Four. But as their career progressed, they asserted more influence over their career. On their third album, Headquarters, The Monkees played most of the instruments themselves, becoming almost a self-contained band. The two musicians in the group, Peter Tork and Mike Nesmith, continued to play on Monkees records, but Mickey Dolenz largely gave up the drums.

‘Goin’ Down’ is taken from the sessions from the band’s fourth album, Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd.. It was released as the b-side to the #1 single ‘Daydream Believer’. The group took the chord progression from Mose Allison’s ‘Parchman Farm’. They handed their piece to songwriter Diane Hildebrand. and asked her to write lyrics. She wrote about a man, distraught about the end of a relationship had ended, who jumps into the river. Fortunately, there’s a happy ending.

Just movin’ slow and floatin’ free
There’s a river swinging under me
Waving back to the folks on shore
I should have thought of this before
I’m floatin’ on down to New Orleans
And pick up on some swingin’ scenes

It’s a lot of effort for a non-album single – it’s detour into big band jazz with an impressive Dolenz lead vocal. Wrecking Crew member Bud Brisbois contributed the trumpet solo.

‘Goin’ Down’ was featured on a 2012 episode of Breaking Bad, bringing it to a new audience. It was also added to later editions of Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd.

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  1. I don’t even have to listen to it. I know it very well and it’s one of my favorite Monkees songs of all time. I pretty much knew that Mickey wasn’t playing drums. But who cares? His singing is great on this and he’s every bit the singer (if not more) than Davy Jones. What an unusual song for a pop band to do back in the Sixties.

    • I don’t really mind about who did what in music, as long as the finished product is interesting. But it’s hard not to get into that train of thought with The Monkees. Allowing Tork and Nesmith to play and have more input was a positive, but Dolenz didn’t really need to drum. But it’s cool that the group had the idea for this one – it’s pretty unique.

      • Yeah, love it. “Tapioca Tundra” is another oddball favorite. “Valleri” is a great tune with a flamenco-like run by some studio guy. Truthfully, a lot of stuff we think is played by a given band is actually played by studio musicians either because the guy in a band can’t play it or the studio musician can do it faster (equals cheaper.)

          • Probably correct although I wouldn’t be surprised if it didn’t spill into the Seventies. I think you saw the Page book I’m reading. He was on everything from “Goldfinger” to Joe Cocker to “Hard Day’s Night.” (Orchestral version of “That Boy.”) And I just found out he played the solo on the Stones’ “One Hit to the Body.” He was ubiquitous. And everything he learned there he applied to Zep records. He is a very smart, quite unique figure in rock history.

          • It feels like some of the 1960s stuff was kind of secretive, jumping in with an existing band to shore them up (something that was maybe less necessary as technology got better and multi-tracking became easier?). While in the 1980s, he’s more like a high-profile guest star.

          • I heard that Jimmy Page played the great guitar solo on Donovan’s Hurdy Gurdy Man, and even though that is one of my favorite records ever, I never knew that before. I’m always surprised to find out all the different things he played on. Stuff that you never would have guessed in a million years.

          • Actually, I just looked it up and it said that it’s disputed whether or not Jimmy Page played on that. Donovan swears that it was him, but other people say that it wasn’t. And I have no idea what he says himself.

          • Wikipedia says “On Jimmy Page’s website, he lists this song as one on which he plays.” Apparently Allan Holdsworth was around too.

          • Oh, okay. I guess I should have checked there but I just read the first thing that came up on Google. I wonder why there would be such disagreement about who played on the record. That’s weird. It couldn’t be all that hard to remember.

          • Apparently people are confused about whether the other guitarist on the track (besides Page) was Alan Parker or Allan Holdsworth. John Paul Jones reckons it was Parker.

          • Those two names are new to me. I never heard them before. Probably the reason I never bothered to see who played guitar on the record is because I probably just presumed they were just musicians who Donovan always played with and I wouldn’t know who they were anyway. Otherwise I might have found out earlier if it was Jimmy Page or not.

          • Allan Holdsworth was pretty well-known, but played on more jazz/prog stuff – he was a member of the prog band U.K..

  2. I grew up with this one. Dolenz really makes this come alive. When you put them in perspective…many bands didn’t play on their records at the time. I’m glad they grabbed some control though. This one is a super B side.

    Dolenz does write my favorite song on this album…Randy Scouse Git

    • The narrative about them playing on their records fitted the article, but I don’t usually get too hung up on the rockist narrative of bands needing to be self contained. More important that the final product is engaging.

      • I wish more people thought that way. They did have some great pop songs in the sixties…. Although I always thought Nesmith was the most gifted…Dolenz had the best voice to me.

  3. It’s so elaborate for a Monkees record. He sings it really well too. I wonder why it wasn’t on the album. But actually I like the Monkees better when they didn’t have control over their music. I like the first two albums better than the later ones, cuz somebody used to find more good songs for them to do. I think the later albums have fewer good ones on them, although the good ones are real good.

  4. That’s a pretty cool tune I had not known and frankly not expected from the Monkees. This sounds quite different from songs like “Last Train to Clarksville”, “I’m a Believer” or “Pleasant Valley Sunday”. It’s got more of a soul and jazz vibe.

    • I probably need to go right through their discography sometime – or at least everything involving Nesmith. I’ve always liked them, but my latest dip into their discography has me a bit more enthused.

  5. Not a bad single that, ‘Daydream Believer’ w/ ‘Goin’ Down’. A pretty cool sounding track. The Monkees from ‘Headquarters’ to ‘Head’ is a very interesting period for them as the material are intriguing and cool, with not only them being psychedelic but also their usual songwriters having to be with the times as well.

  6. Interesting and unusual song for a band like The Monkees to have done, but it works. As others have previously noted, they were more talented than initially given credit for, and Mickey Dolenz was a fine singer.

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