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.

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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.


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

32 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.

          1. JL King

            it’s Lennon playing that solo. and it’s great because it is so rough and raw. the Beatles were a LIVE band, just ask some of those folks from back in ’63. besides, it’s an imperfect world. the solo is better rough with a few glitches, that’s what they were LIVE….

            1. Jones

              Is that REALLY John playing? Doesn’t even sound like his guitar… it’s a raw sound is it not… more characteristic of the Gretsch and there’s almost NO chords in it… it’s all notes and sliding around playing riffs or attempts at riffs. Lennon was sloppy but he wasn’t known to bite off more than he could chew… like a typist going a bit too fast and increasing the error rate it sounds like George. The notes bend a bit too … that’s got to be George. That’s his guitar sound isn’t it?

          2. Jones

            Ironically… while the Beatle’s sloppier solo breaks it is probably among George’s most freewheeling showcases as lead guitarist in the Beatles… certainly during the early years before McCartney did so many of the big solos.

            You can hear what George is TRYING to do… lots of great bits there that he can’t quite pull off. I wish I could play guitar because there are so many bits here like early in the solo where he’s repeating that figure before the chord change… it’s the same sort of bit that Ed King(?) does flawlessly in Lynyrd Skynyrd’s They Call Me The Breeze… If they’d gone back and let George have at it till he had it right in overdubs it would have been quite an impressive little solo.

  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, 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….

      1. Ben Smith

        It’s a shame because by the end of his career with the Beatles, John was becoming a very capable lead guitarist. Just look at the work he put out on Get Back, I Want You, and You Never Give Me Your Money. It’s funny to realize how the Beatles were all individually hitting their strides as musicians, but never really reached their potential in their respective solo careers. They just no longer had the mutual drive to keep getting better.

  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).

  11. oldfartbassplayer Walt

    Put me in the ‘great solo’ fan group. It starts out, low, growling, then climbs up an octave, gets more excited, and builds up to a frenetic climax, waits a beat in silence, and then screams with the double stop, Almost like someone working himself into a frenzy while arguing with himself I don’t think John would show that kind of planning or control. When he builds in intensity, he starts getting sloppy (but emotional), throws in all kinds of double stops and bending. Plus it sure sounds like one of the Gretsch’s that George used, not the Ric that John typically played for his other solos.

  12. johnlennonsrhythmguitar

    Another brilliant John vocal. And it’s funny to see the hate people have for John’s guitar playing. It’s not even John playing the solo ( which isn’t half bad ), it’s George. The man made “rhythm guitar” a cool instrument for teens. Have some respect.

  13. Fabio Parente

    In the version for the POP GO THE BEATLES show in mid 1963 John sings “well I used to walk you home baby after school, carry your books home too. But now you don’t care a damn for me, baby what you’re trying to do?” In the official version John’s voice is double-tracked, and while the background vocal track (the less prominent) sings the same line as above, the vocal track in the foreground has “But now you got a boyfriend down the street” as the third of those lines. The resulf is that you can hear both sets of lyrics sung at the same time. So I ask: Why did they keep both versions, sung one above the other?

  14. JSR

    There is a nice sort of symmetry between the out of control nature of the recording and the song’s lyrical content. I think it works. Slow down!!! (We’re losing it here, it’s all out of control!!) The instruments, vocals, and lyrics all reflect this. Lennon’s vocal sound is brilliant. It would have been great to hear this live in 1962.It’s a better cut than it is given credit for. Early punk….

  15. oldFartBassPlayer Walt

    Here’s another vote for fantastic solo. Don’t think some folk get it when they call it meandering.
    In the early parts, It builds up tension , with slow bends, getting more and more heated, until
    that octave climb screams in release, while still continues frantically, not letting up the intensity.
    Then John’s screaming vocal comes back and continues the heat.

    The solo seems thought out, when to build, when to lay on the steam. John did not have the
    discipline to do this, nor could he play it- when he get excited, he starts double bending notes,
    and distorting the sound. THe note play is too well executed to be John.

    AND as mentioned, the guitar sound definitely is George, not John.

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