Come On Baby, Let's Go Downtown
Music/Lyrics: Danny Whitten, Neil Young
Original Artist: Crazy Horse
Original Album: Crazy Horse (1971)
Historian: Erik Swain
This song about scoring heroin, written by Danny Whitten (the original guitarist for Crazy Horse) and Neil Young, is best known for its appearance on Young’s classic Tonight’s the Night album (1975). It first surfaced on Young’s 1970 tour with Crazy Horse as his backing band; at one show Young acknowledged it was written “mostly by Danny.” A year later it appeared, simply titled “Downtown,” on Crazy Horse’s first album without Young. This excellent record also contains Whitten’s “I Don’t Want to Talk About It," which has been covered by Rod Stewart and the Indigo Girls, among others.
Whitten died of a heroin overdose in 1972. The following year, partly inspired by that, Young wrote a collection of songs examining the darker side of the sex-drugs-and-rock-and-roll mentality of the ‘60s. Two years later, they would be released as Tonight’s the Night. In the interim, three other tunes were added to the song cycle, and one was a live version of this song from the 1970 tour with Whitten on lead vocals. There it is listed as “Come On Baby, Let’s Go Downtown,” which is the title Young fans use today, chiefly so as not to confuse it with “Downtown” from 1995’s Mirror Ball.
Trey kicked off the electric set of his first solo show on 2/15/99 with this song and played it sporadically on his solo tours in May 1999, February-March 2001 and June 2002. He performed it as a straightforward rocker not much different from the Young/Crazy Horse versions. It entered the Phish repertoire when it opened the show on 9/23/00 in Rosemont, IL. Was there a reason they chose to play it here? Perhaps. Trey attended a Young concert in this same city the previous year (on 5/1/99, to be exact), and described it during his 5/8/99 solo show as one of the best experiences of his life. The song made one additional appearance on the Fall 2000 tour, on 10/5/00 in Irvine, CA.
“Come on Baby Let’s Go Downtown" has since re-entered Trey's solo repertoire, making two appearances on his "Classic TAB" tour in Fall 2008, but has not made a return to the Phish stage.
"Come On Baby, Let's Go Downtown" 9/23/00 Rosemont, IL