Written by: Lennon
Recorded: July-August 1974
Producer: John Lennon
Released: 4 October 1974 (UK), 26 September 1974 (US)
John Lennon: vocals, guitar
Nicky Hopkins: piano
Jesse Ed Davis: electric guitar
Eddie Mottau: acoustic guitar
Ken Ascher: electric piano
Klaus Voormann: bass guitar
Arthur Jenkins: percussion
Jim Keltner: drums
Bobby Keys, Steve Madaio, Howard Johnson, Ron Aprea, Frank Vicari: horns
The opening song on John Lennon’s fifth solo album Walls And Bridges was an account of the domestic dramas he had experienced since his temporary split from Yoko Ono.
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 this stage, Going Down On Love was recorded separately on both acoustic guitar and piano, and 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 Yoko 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.