Lennon recorded home demos of the song in the early summer of 1974, along with several other songs that were recorded during the Walls And Bridges sessions. At that stage, ‘Going Down On Love’ was recorded separately on both acoustic guitar and piano, in a style which revealed the depression that was intermittently clouding Lennon’s life.
By the time it was recorded in the studio, ‘Going Down On Love’ had become considerably more sprightly, although Lennon’s directions to the musicians to play it straight with no frills – as featured on the John Lennon Anthology box set – were discarded as backing vocals, horns and percussion was later overdubbed. In its initial state, however, it was not far from the raw sound of John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band.
Despite the sexual innuendo of the title and chorus, ‘Going Down On Love’ was a bleak summation of Lennon’s state of mind since he and Ono had parted company. “When the real thing goes wrong/And you can’t get it on/And your love she has gone/And you got to carry on,” he sang ruefully.
Elsewhere he turned through his back pages with a reference from ‘Help!’, a Beatles hit from nine years previously: “Somebody please, please help me/You know I’m drowning in a sea of hatred.” This was Lennon at his most rootless and directionless, but as ever able to turn his uncertainty and desperation into clear-headed confessional songwriting.