#210: Slow Down

Larry Williams may not be a household name like Chuck Berry or Little Richard, but his influence on the Beatles, especially John Lennon, cannot be understated. The group tackled three Williams compositions on record, which ties him with Carl Perkins as the most frequently covered songwriter in their core discography. (Berry likely holds the title if you expand the territory to include BBC recordings and early concert repertoire.)

So if you’re keeping track–and I imagine everyone reading this has an Excel spreadsheet to follow along–two of those three Williams songs make the bottom six of the countdown (with a Perkins cut in there as well). With a batting average like that, he wouldn’t even qualify for the Minnesota Twins roster, I say in a reference I clearly Googled because everybody knows I don’t know anything about sports.

twins

Look at them in their baseball costumes.

So what’s so bad about “Slow Down”? Much like “Dizzy Miss Lizzy,” the song prioritizes manic energy over actual melody, which would be fine if the Beatles played it with a less paint-by-numbers approach. The original Larry Williams version is more successful in that regard. Plus, it takes more than 30 seconds before the vocals kick in, and while the third verse boasts some solid Lennon vocals, to get there you have to sit through a guitar solo that’s pretty rough to put it nicely.

As an olive branch to Larry Williams, I’ll offer up that I actually do like John Lennon’s 1975 cover of “Bony Maronie” and Paul McCartney’s 1999 take on “She Said Yeah.” And he still has one more song to go on this countdown, so we’ll see where “Bad Boy” falls. (SPOILER ALERT: It’s next. Just kidding. Although that’d be kind of funny, wouldn’t it?)

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#210: Slow Down