Going Down



Dawn sings in the garden
Phone sings in the hall
This boy's dead from two days' life
Resurrected by the call

Penny here, we've got to come
So come on round to me
There's so much Penny lying here
To touch, taste and tease

Ring a ding ding ding
I'm going down
I'm coming round

Penny's place a crummy room
Her dansette crackles to Jimi's tune
I don't care, I taste Ambre Solaire
Her neck, her thighs, her lips, her hair

Ring a ding ding ding
I'm going down
I'm coming round

All thoughts of sleep desert me
There is no time
Thirty minutes brings me round to
Her number 9

Yeah, she looks like a painting
Jackson Pollock's 'Number 5'
Come into the forest and taste the trees
The sun starts shining and I'm hard to please

Ring a ding ding ding
I'm going down
I'm coming round

All thoughts of sleep desert me
There is no time
Thirty minutes brings me round to
Her number 9

To look down on the clouds
You don't need to fly
I've never flown in a plane
I'll live until I die


Lyrics by:
Squire / Brown

Music by:
Squire / Brown

Written:
1986

Personnel:
John Squire (guitar)
Ian Brown (vocals)
Gary Mounfield (bass)
Alan Wren (drums, backing vocals)

Produced by:
Paul Schroeder & The Stone Roses

Available on:
Made Of Stone single (b-side)
The Complete Stone Roses (2.46)
Turns Into Stone (2.46)
What The World Is Waiting For / Fool's Gold / She Bangs The Drums (12" mix) / Elephant Stone (12" mix) / Guernica / Going Down (November 1989, Alfa-Silvertone, 18B2-103, Japanese CD)

First live performance:
In 1987.

Details:

Top: The Gates of Dawn (detail) by Herbert James Draper.
Second row: Number 5, 1951 ("Elegant Lady", 58 x 55 1/2", 147.3 x 140.9 cm) by Jackson Pollock. "Yeah, she looks like a painting" originates from the saying, "She's as pretty as a picture." Passion looks like a painting. As was the practice at the time Pollock only titled his work with a number; the verbal title in this instance was assigned by New York art dealer Martha Jackson. It is not difficult to see how she come up with this particular moniker as the curvaceous line that spills down the right hand portion of the canvas recalls the seductive outline of a female figure along with the sultry form of two eyes suggested by the bold form that emerges in the upper left corner. "Elegant Lady" is from Pollock's celebrated series of black enamel paintings. Although not properly figurative, these paintings began to move away from the abstract, atmospheric feeling of the drip paintings, in which lines, colours and space fuse into wholeness. Due to the scattered categorization of Pollock's work, there is more than one 'Number 5' in circulation. One such work of this title from 1948 became the world's most expensive painting in 2006, being sold for $140 million. The person thought to have sold the painting, which measures 4ft by 8ft (1.2m by 2.4m), was The Stone Roses' former record label boss, David Geffen.
Third row: Given the yin-yang facet of Going Down, does the choice of name for the lady in the song, Penny, have significance too in this regard ? On a spinning penny coin, heads meets tails...
Remaining rows: From one lady with a spinning head to another... On the U2 b-side, Lady With the Spinning Head, Bono takes the roulette wheel of Charles Bukowski's Hollywood as a starting point, and extends this as a feminine metaphor of luck, providence, fortune and fate (Here she comes / Lady Luck again). The six and nine, found at opposite ends of a roulette wheel (Wherever I go / She's always hanging round), form an eight in union (Figure of eight / Six and nine again), a symbol of the perceived infinite fruits of this conjugation of man and woman (I'm on top when she's around). 6 and 9 face one another on the Orphelins (a French term, meaning 'orphans') sectors of the roulette wheel. The Orphelins is a call bet covering eight numbers of two opposite sectors [(17, 34, 6) & (1, 20, 14, 31, 9)]. Five chips or multiples thereof are bet. One chip is placed straight-up on 1, and one chip on each of the splits: 6/9; 14/17; 17/20 and 31/34. A rational mind knows that Lady Luck will eventually run out, but the player here is convinced, with each spin of the wheel, that she will stand firmly by his side. Whatever the deal / She won't let me down. She will not leave him orphan (She's been gone / But I knew she'd be back). She is his home (She's got the rent; in line with the 'us against the world' mentality of Sonny Bono & Cher, Bono and Lady Luck have a love that will pay the rent). She is his muse (She put me in the black. Bono hangs on every disyllabic spin of her very name). Luck be a lady tonight.

The first demo of Going Down was recorded in Chorlton in 1986, with no drums until the end and an added xylophone. Going Down is rife with sexual allusion ("The sun starts shining and I'm hard to please"), a feature which playfully permeates the debut album era material (I'm getting off*). With luscious brushes and a blissful 12-string Byrdsian solo at 1:35, Going Down is an amalgam of louche sexual euphemisms centred around oral sex (Come into the forest and taste the trees... Her neck, her thighs, her lips, her hair... I'm going down). Standing Here also verges into this territory with the hyperbolic metaphor, I could park a juggernaut in your mouth. A juggernaut is a literal or metaphorical force regarded as mercilessly destructive and unstoppable. It has origins as a metaphorical reference to the Jagannath Temple in Puri, Orissa, which features Hindu Ratha Yatra temple cars. This annual procession of chariots, carrying the murtis of Jagannāth (Krishna), Subhadra and Balabhadra (Krishna's elder brother), apocryphally was reputed to crush devotees under its wheels. Hence, this sexually charged lyric from Standing Here works on the level of a juggernaut 'parking' on the open mouth of its devotee. Thom Yorke would later deftly fuse such elements - an AA magazine article titled 'An Airbag Saved My Life' and The Tibetan Book of the Dead - in a jackknifed juggernaut. "Jimi's tune" is a coded reference to the Hendrix song, 'If 6 Was 9', co-opted here to represent the '69' position in oral sex. If you picture a clockface, the 'thirty minute' position of the minute hand rests on the number 6. The passage of thirty minutes sees the minute hand make a half-turn around the face. Thus, the thirty minutes of oral sex in Penny's room sees the number 6 in union with what is a 'half-turn of a 6', the number 9 ("Thirty minutes brings me round to her number 9"). This Hendrix track portrays the underlying conflict of the 1960s counterculture: the social and cultural dichotomies between the hippies and the 'white collared conservative' business world of the establishment. Opening with a blues riff, the lyrics accompany a spacey free-form jam, with Hendrix epitomizing the existentialist voice of the youth movement. At the age of eight, Ian had a dansette and his musical taste was broadened when his aunt gave him a selection of seven inches, his first ever records. These records included 'It's Not Unusual' by Tom Jones; 'Help!' and 'I Feel Fine' by The Beatles; (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction', 'Under My Thumb' and 'Get Off of My Cloud' by The Rolling Stones; 'The Happening' and 'Love Child' by The Supremes. Jimi Hendrix's Smash Hits LP was the only album among the collection.

 

 

The Evolution of Manc...
Top left: 'If 6 Was 9' is from 'Axis: Bold as Love' (December 1967), by The Jimi Hendrix Experience. "We like a lot of 60s music, 60s psychedelic stuff. We like a lot of early punk stuff. So we try and combine the melody of the 60s stuff with the energy of the punk stuff. We're not a punk band and we're not a 60s band. We're just an 80s band." (Ian Brown). Going Down is neatly bookended with birth (a 'rebirth' in the form of Jesus' Resurrection - see below) and death, which perhaps has genesis in a spoken segment from 'If 6 Was 9' ("I'm the one that's gonna have to die when it's time for me to die. So let me live my life the way I want to."). 'I Don't Live Today', also from this LP, provides the lead-off to the finale of What The World Is Waiting For. 'If 6 Was 9' features on the Easy Rider soundtrack. At The Stone Roses' reunion press conference in 2011, Ian was asked how long he envisaged the band's reunification would last. In his metaphorical response - "We'll ride it till the wheels fall off like we did last time." - Ian may have had the ending of this film in mind.
Top right & middle row: ...and into Eastern Bloc, original as the clothes they wear. Squire and Brown shopping in Affleck's Arcade, Manchester, in 1988. Located in the Northern Quarter of Manchester, Affleck's Palace opened in 1981; the relaxed atmosphere and colourful labyrinth-like layout of this northern equivalent to Camden Market led to it becoming a mecca for alternative culture in the Acid House era. With The Stone Roses and Happy Mondays at the height of their popularity, Affleck's Palace was a fashionable spot to get oversized flared jeans and tie dyed t-shirts, while popular record shop Eastern Bloc catered to underground music tastes. Ian Brown and Reni would leave their mark on Eastern Bloc, in the pair's 1985 graffiti spree in Manchester's Northern Quarter. Part of the graffiti still remains to this day, slightly ingrained in the brick, on the side of what used to be Eastern Bloc Records, on the corner of Oldham Street and Dale Street. Leo Stanley can be seen looking through the shop window in the top right photo. In 1983, Leo opened a small unit in Affleck's Palace. The shop went through several different names before Leo settled on 'Identity' (the sign for which can be seen in the top left corner of the photo) in 1986. The empire eventually expanded to take over half of the ground floor in Affleck's Palace, a shop in Affleck's Arcade on Oldham Street, another outlet on the second floor of Affleck's Palace and a further two in the Royal Exchange. In 1988, Ian Brown asked Leo if he could get hold of any Wrangler flares, which were hard to find at the time. This gave Leo the idea of producing his own, and he got in contact with Joe Moss, original manager of The Smiths, who had a clothing company called Go Vicinity. Happy Mondays manager Phil Saxe had been selling flares on his stall in the indoor market for a few years previous to this. Once The Stone Roses embraced the flared look, this brought a whole new fanbase to the fashion. In one interview, Ian namechecked Identity as the place where he bought his flares, and the next morning, Leo arrived at work only to find a lengthy queue formed outside his shop. In the fashion stakes, the flared/baggy bottom half of the band was grounded in Manchester, but the top half was continental.
Bottom row: "Oasis was a shop with shoes so hot, they were sure to blow your mind...". An ad for Identity, featured in Debris, a mid-80's indie music fanzine.

Spring is in our hearts today; Christ has burst his prison. The setting for the dawn chorus of the opening verse - like Kandinsky's 'Improvisation Number 6' - is not immediately scrutable. Closer inspection reveals the Resurrection of Christ (Penny's from heaven ?). The figure with halo, rolling back the boulder, on the right of Kandinsky's piece is Christ, from three days' sleep in death as a sun has risen. The opening verse ["This boy's dead from two days' life. Resurrected by the call"] turns the Resurrection of Jesus on its head, like a 6 turned into a 9. In I Ching divination, 6 and 9 are old yin and old yang respectively; the signification of 6 is yin changing into yang, while the signification of 9 is yang changing into yin (see the yin-yang philosophy of Ice Cold Cube). Jesus was alive from two days' death, having risen on the Third Day (Christ was dead for three days; from the Jewish perspective, a portion of a day counts as a full day and therefore, Jesus was dead on Friday, Saturday and Sunday). This two-day juncture between final execution and resurrection, which must have seemed like an eternity to the expectant followers of Christ, takes on a wizened facet on Your Time Will Come. While the time that Christ rose from the dead is not given explicitly in the Bible, it must have been pre-dawn at the latest, on Sunday.

To the 48 hour party people, the opening verse serves as an ode to the two day nights of a weekender. Ambre Solaire is the suntan lotion tasted during the explorative sexual activity of the couple. On Sunday morn, Jesus was to taste the first rays of golden sunlight in the moment of His glorious Resurrection. The luminous event begins in the pre-dawn darkness. Some sources erroneously interpret the opening lyric as "Dog sings in the garden"; think of the complement of 'dog' in terms of semi-palindrome, and you will be closer to the mark because, rather, it is dawn that sings its joyful song (dawn pararhymes with phone at the start of lines one and two). Dawn, of course, has no set time each day and varies according to location; a general marker, however, would be six o'clock in the morning. This is the daybreak and this is the love we make.

The darkest hour is just before the dawn. With the nearing of dawn on Sunday morning - when soon the night of weeping shall be the morn of song - the promised Resurrection of Christ drew closer, the dawn of a new creation. The "phone sings in the hall" of the residence where the couple are enjoying oral sex, but this lyric perhaps has further depth in meaning - Jesus is resurrected by the (phone)call of God. The mention of a 'garden' in the opening line is interesting, since Mary Magdalene thought that the man she was speaking to was a gardener:

Sister must've missed ya. The opening line of Going Down can be appreciated as an inverse of that which opens W. H. Auden's 'Funeral Blues'. Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone conveys a profound sense of inconsolable grief, tragic loss and unrelenting pessimism; the Resurrection sets time in motion (Dawn sings in the garden) and reconnects that which had been temporarily cut off (phone sings in the hall).

 

This is the daybreak...
Left: Rembrandt immortalized the moment when Mary Magdalene mistakenly perceived the newly-risen Jesus to be a gardener. On one level, it was not really a mistake, for Jesus is indeed the New Adam. The light breaks forth like the dawn. Morning has broken, like the first morning, but this garden near Golgotha has contrast with Eden, the first garden, at the dawn of Creation. Adam and Eve allowed trust in their Creator to die in their hearts, and left the garden in shame; the Risen Jesus, holding a spade, is now the indisputable Master over the garden where He was laid to rest (Rising you restored our life...). I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself. Christ's Resurrection is a transcendent intervention of God Himself in creation and history, in which the three divine persons act together as one. The Father raised Jesus (Romans 10: 9), Jesus raised Himself (John 2: 19 - 22), and the Spirit raised Jesus (Romans 8: 11).
Right: 'Improvisation Number 6' (1909) by Kandinsky.

Going Down alternates between two 'passions', with the focus of the song later moving towards another 'garden', the Garden of Gethsemane ("I'm going down"). In John's Gospel, 'the hour' points to the climax of Jesus' earthly ministry, to the appointed time of His Passion and glorification. In anticipation of His death, Our Lord's mind scanned the ages: "Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say ? 'Father, save me from this hour' ? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name !". This divinely calculated 'hour' has two dimensions, one rooted in the historical life of Christ and another in the liturgical life of the Church. Before the appointed 'hour', set by the Father, the attempts of Jesus' enemies to harm Him have all been in vain because "His hour had not yet come" [7: 30; 8 :20]. The countdown of that hour, the point at which the clock starts ticking, is at the start of Passion week when Jesus rides into Jerusalem on the day the Passover lambs are selected for the sacrifice (Palm Sunday). In the Garden of Gethsemane, Christ turned in agonized reproach to those from whom He had hoped for consolation. In the lyric "All thoughts of sleep desert me", if you pause on sleep, you form the sequence of Christ's arrest and betrayal: "All thoughts of sleep, desert me". The disciples, rather than being awake in Christ, were consumed with thoughts of sleep; each would desert Jesus in His hour of need. There is no time.

An opening verse lyric by Noel Gallagher on Champagne Supernova - "Wake up the dawn and ask her why / A dreamer dreams, she never dies / Wipe that tear away now from your eye" - has an almost Stone Roses-like quality in its thematic scope. Indeed, I would suggest that Noel is often working from a Stone Roses template in chasing the sun, predicating some of his material with an introductory dawn setting:

* An Arctic Monkeys b-side from 2013 - Stop the World I Wanna Get Off with You - develops this further.


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