Slow Down

Long Tall Sally EP artwork - United KingdomWritten by: Larry Williams
Recorded: 1, 4 June 1964
Producer: George Martin
Engineer: Norman Smith

Released: 19 June 1964 (UK), 20 July 1964 (US)

John Lennon: vocals, rhythm guitar
Paul McCartney: bass
George Harrison: lead guitar
Ringo Starr: drums
George Martin: piano

Available on:
Past Masters
Live At The BBC

First appearing on The Beatles' Long Tall Sally EP, Slow Down was a cover version of Larry Williams' 1958 song, and was originally the b-side to his hit single Dizzy Miss Lizzy.

Download on iTunes

Slow Down had been a part of The Beatles' live repertoire between 1960 and 1962, and the group had stopped playing it by the time they revived it during the A Hard Day's Night sessions.

In the US, the song was released as a single in August 1964, with Matchbox as the b-side. It was also included on the Something New album.

A version of Slow Down, recorded on 16 July 1963 at the BBC Paris Theatre, London, was included on Live At The BBC. Taped for the Pop Go The Beatles programme, it was the group's only BBC recording of a Larry Williams song.

In the studio

The song was taped swiftly in six takes in the afternoon of 1 June 1964. The rhythm track of take three was the best, and onto this was overdubbed a double-tracked Lennon vocals.

Three days later George Martin added a piano part. None of the performers appear to have taken it too seriously, with vocal fluffs (most noticeably during the line "But now you've got a boyfriend down the street"), a somewhat workmanlike guitar solo and generally sloppy playing.

But that's the essence of rock 'n' roll, and Lennon's vocal has enough brio to make the result worth searching out by Beatles fans.

Lyrics

Well, come on pretty baby, won't you walk with me?
Come on, pretty baby, won't you talk with me?
Come on pretty baby, give me one more chance
Try to save our romance

Slow down
Baby, now you're moving way too fast
You gotta gimme little loving gimme little loving
Ow! If you want our love to last

Well, I used to walk you home, baby, after school
Carry your books home, too
But now you've got a boyfriend down the street
Baby what you trying to do?

You better slow down
Baby, now you're moving way too fast
You gotta gimme little loving, gimme little loving
Brrr! If you want our love to last

Well you know that I love you, tell the world I do
Come on, pretty baby, why can't you be true?
I need your loving baby, oh so bad
The best little woman I ever had

Slow down
Baby, now you're moving way too fast
You gotta gimme little loving, gimme little loving
Ow! If you want our love to last

20 responses on “Slow Down

  1. Mitch Balish

    I’m fairly certain that you, and no doubt many others, are mishearing the lyrical clash in the second verse. On one track, John is singing, “now you’ve got a girlfriend down the street,” and on the other track, he’s singing “now you don’t care a dime for me.” This latter line can be heard clearly by itself on the Beatles’ rendition of this song on “The Beatles at the Beeb.”

    1. pepperland

      You are absolutely correct. I thought you were wrong until I actually listened to the song and I realised you can hear “Now you don’t care a dime for me” and “Now you’ve got a boyfriend down the street”. The way he pronounces care makes it sound a lot like girl which had me fooled. If you don’t believe me, check it out yourself.

    1. Von Bontee

      I suspect that it was actually George on lead & John on rhythm – that guitar solo sounds a bit note-y for John. But I’m relying on memory, “Slow Down” being one of my least-played tracks, so I could be mistaken. I’ll have to give it a listen or two tonight.

      1. D.B.

        It’s an awful solo, John was a shaky guitarist, the pieces fit. I counted eleven mistakes in the solo alone, and the lead guitar is prodding uncertainly throughout the track, in a lazy pluck typical of John’s style (Compare with George’s heavier handling and generally assured timing). By a long way the worst solo the Beatles ever got away with.

        And George does, in fact, use his 12-string on I Call Your Name.

  2. brian

    The line in the third verse shown above “I need your loving baby, oh so bad” if you listen to it closely sounds like John is singing “I need your butt and baby oh so fat”. I’m not making this up…listen and decide for yourself!

  3. carlos

    thanks bon vontee, but let me tell you that George was using with such obsession his 12 strings Rickenbaker by the time, but I can’t hear it on any of the 4 songs EP “Long tall Sally” (just in “I call your name”). Maybe because George wasn’t there at the sessions. If you or anybody else know something about it…

  4. Von Bontee

    Pointless, semi-interesting factoid: This is the first Beatles track to open with more than 30 seconds (0:35 to be exact) of instrumental work before the vocal begins – by far the longest such intro they’d yet recorded. And unless I’m overlooking something, only 3 other tracks have longer intros: “Love You To”, “Flying” and “Sun King”.

  5. BluzCatKeef

    Dear Brian: Larry Williams wrote, “I need your loving baby, oh so bad, the best little woman I ever had,” and Lennon sang, “I need your body baby oh so bad, the best little woman that I ever had.” Sorry you misheard it… Actually I’m not because I haven’t stopped laughing since I read your comment!!!! You should post it to kissthisguy.com, a collection of misheard (and hilarious) lyrics.

  6. BluzCatKeef

    Dear D.B. To YOU it may be an awful solo; Lennon told me in 1971 that he played exactly what he wanted to hear and the dissonance was an early experiment in trying to get a,”Saxophone feel on a guitar.”
    Luv, BluzCatKeef

    1. Frank Faggi

      It’s a FANTASTIC solo!BlutzCatKeef I agree with you and I think that John was a darn good lead guitarist too in some points of his career and his musical approach to the guitar reflected his musical genius and attitude,we’re not talking about speed freaks or whatever,the guitar was just a tool in his hands either to play R’nR or to make art,I think that’s what he wanted it to be or liked it to be,some people have the beef other don’t even with 20000000000millions notes:)hasta….

  7. Riffking

    BluzKatKeef: Very interesting comment. I’ve always chalked up this rather aimless solo to George, who despite being quite gifted, often ‘phoned in’ solos during this period. (Check out his rather flaccid solo in “Kansas City” from the Shindig performance as an example). If there’s evidence that John played this solo, can you provide a bit more evidence (time/place/situation) in which John shared this info with you? Many thanks. e

  8. Ron Noshie

    How dare any of you people knock that solo in slow down I think its a great solo one of my favourites if you think its so bad sit down and try to play it parrot fashion and see how long it takes you to play it I bet you wont be able to copy this one in a hurry so stop knocking the best band the world will ever see Ronny

  9. James Robert Lee

    Ok, You can tell when it’s John playing the solo, Listen to the 1st solo on ” Long tall Sally ” and ” You Can’t Do That ” and then compare to ” Slow Down “.John basically did solos that worked around the the 3 frets of the 1st chord……..

  10. jellyphish

    In terms of the musicianship of the song. I’m not sure I’d agree that it was lack of seriousness, but was more getting the sound they had in Hamburg. The change of Ringo for Pete was primarily because this was how he had played, not needing to be super crisp (as was required for radio play, but not for playing in bars).

Leave a reply