C'mon Down!

'Down by the Water'
Single by PJ Harvey
from the album To Bring You My Love
B-side'Lying in the Sun'/'Somebody's Down, Somebody's Name'
Released6 February 1995
RecordedSeptember–October 1994 at Townhouse Studios in London, United Kingdom
GenreAlternative rock
Songwriter(s)PJ Harvey
Producer(s)Flood, John Parish, PJ Harvey
PJ Harvey singles chronology
'Down by the Water'
'C'mon Billy'

'Down by the Water' is a song by English alternative rock musician PJ Harvey. It is the seventh track and the lead single from her third studio album To Bring You My Love, released in February 1995 on Island Records. The song was written by Harvey, and self-produced with Flood and John Parish.

The song diverged significantly from Harvey's former indie rock and punk blues influence, opting to use electronic instruments such as a synthesized organ and an orchestral ensemble. The lyrics narrate the story of a woman drowning her daughter and reference the traditional American folk song 'Salty Dog Blues'.

  1. Lyrics to 'London Town C'mon Down' by ROGER TAYLOR: Starts with spoken excerpt from 'LONDON FANTASY' by Mervyn Peake / We got it down, we got it down / We got it down, in London Town / Dig this and dig that / Dig the thin and dig the fat / Dig the boys and dig the girls / Dig the straights and dig the curls / Dig.
  2. Enjoy the C'mon Down AzLyrics!!! Poor Man's Poison Lyrics Like any great band, the sound is the clear result of collaboration and compromise. Diverse influences converge into a singular consistent vision.
  3. Round and round, upside down C'mon, yo, throw your hands c'mon Bitch grab your tits c'mon Let me know you in the spot Bump your fists, c'mon Thugs.
  4. C'mon down To London Town C'mon down to London Town Electric light surrounding me Feel the electricity Feeling up, getting higher Feed on my electric fire If you wanna get up, you gotta go down Get your fix on London Town So c'mon down, to London Tawn C'mon down To London town C'mon down to London Town C'mon down to London Town C'mon down.

Am x02210 F 133211 E 022100 Am/C x32210 Intro Am E F E Chorus 1 Am E Hey man, c'mon down F E They're sellin' truth on the corner now Am E Look at him all dressed in white F E Said the angels musta came into town last night Am E Hey man, c'mon down F E They got your fix on the corner downtown Am E Look at him with the heavy hearts, F E broke.

'Down by the Water' was Harvey's mainstream breakthrough in the United States, where the song reached number 2 on Billboard's Modern Rock Tracks chart and received extensive rotation on MTV and college radio stations. The song received critical acclaim upon its release, charting in Canada, Ireland, the United Kingdom and the United States.


'Down by the Water' was written by Harvey, who also produced along with Flood and John Parish. The song opens with vocals and a heavy organ played by Harvey. As the song progresses it incorporates several more elements, including percussion instruments, drums, and an orchestral ensemble. Pete Thomas conducted the string parts for the song. The musicians in the ensemble include Sonia Slany on violin, Jocelyn Pook and Jules Singleton on viola, and Sian Bell on cello.[1] The song derives elements from blues and electronica, the latter due to notable use of a synthesized organ.

The song's lyrics tell the story of a woman committing filicide. The woman drowns her daughter 'down by the water' and 'won't see her again'. The final coda features Harvey whispering the lines: 'little fish, big fish swimming in the water / come back here, man, gimme my daughter'. The refrain was based on Lead Belly's rendition of the traditional American folk song 'Salty Dog Blues'. In 2005, Harvey used the song's lyrics in a Spin interview as an example to demonstrate that her songs were not autobiographical: 'Some critics have taken my writing so literally to the point that they'll listen to 'Down by the Water' and believe I have actually given birth to a child and drowned her.'[2]

Release and reception[edit]

'Down by the Water' was released in the United Kingdom and Australia on Island Records in February 1995. It was the lead single from the album To Bring You My Love, and was pressed on CD and 7' vinyl. The CD single featured one B-side, 'Somebody's Down, Somebody's Name', and the 7' and Australian CD single included a second B-side, 'Lying in the Sun'. The song charted in four countries upon its release; peaking at number 78 in Canada,[3] number 28 in Ireland,[4] and number 38 in the United Kingdom.[5] The song charted in two charts in the United States; peaking at number 48 on Billboard'Hot 100 Airplay,[6] and reaching number 2 on the Modern Rock Tracks[7] 'Down by the Water' became a modern rock radio hit due to extensive rotation on MTV and college radio stations.

Critical reception to 'Down by the Water' was positive. Allmusic editor Stephen Thomas Erlewine retrospectively noted the song was an Allmusic pick and called Harvey's songwriting 'tighter and more melodic than before', adding that 'the menacing 'Down by the Water' has genuine hooks.'[8] Robert Hilburn of the Los Angeles Times noted the song in 1995 as one of To Bring You My Love's 'most gripping moments', adding 'she speaks with the captivating clarity and force of someone reaching for a final, life-saving anchor.'[9] 'Down by the Water' was later nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Female Rock Vocal Performance at the 38th Grammy Awards.[10]

In 2005, Diplo sampled 'Down By The Water' for a remix of the Mike Jones single 'Still Tippin',[11] and then again the following year on Plastic Little's indie rap track 'Now I Hollar'.[12]

Music video[edit]

Maria Mochnacz directed the music video for 'Down by the Water'.[13] Owing to the large promotional push by Island Records for To Bring You My Love, the video received a higher budget than Harvey's two previous music videos for the company. It was recorded with a large crew over the course of two days in London, in contrast with the 'anti-pop' video for 'Man-Size', and was shot on 35mm film. Two camera assistants, Seamus McGarvey and Mike Valentine, separately recorded the different scenes of the video; McGarvey recorded the dancing scenes and Valentine recorded the underwater scenes.[14] A body double replaced Harvey for some of the underwater footage.[13]

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The video features Harvey dancing in a red satin dress with a large wig and excessive make-up. She dubbed her appearance 'Joan Crawford on acid' in an interview with Spin in 1996.[15] Describing the video in an interview with JBTV, she said: 'it was a hard video to make actually that one. It was two days worth of jumping in and out of a swimming pool. Well, one day was just in the swimming pool and the other day was just dancing on a rotating platform but it was quite hard-going after all', adding 'it was quite scary as well because I was jumping in with a wig which was really, really heavy so it was quite difficult to get to the surface again. And wearing high-heel silver shoes, not the best thing for swimming in.'[16]

The video was nominated for Best Female Video at the 1995 MTV Video Music Awards[17] and has been featured in episodes of Beavis and Butt-head, Ash vs. Evil Dead, and Gotham.

Track listings[edit]

UK CD single (IS CID 607)
  1. 'Down by the Water' – 3:15
  2. 'Somebody's Down, Somebody's Name' – 3:42
UK 7' single (IS 607)
  1. 'Down by the Water' – 3:15
  2. 'Lying in the Sun' – 4:32
  3. 'Somebody's Down, Somebody's Name' – 3:42
US promotional CD (PRCD 6921-2)
  1. 'Down by the Water' – 3:15


All personnel credits adapted from To Bring You My Love's liner notes.[1]

  • PJ Harvey – vocals, organ, producer, engineer
  • Joe Gore – guitar
  • John Parish – drums, percussion
Guest musicians
  • Pete Thomas – string arrangements
  • Sonia Slany – violin
  • Jocelyn Pook – viola
  • Jules Singleton – viola
  • Sian Bell – cello
Technical personnel
  • Flood – producer, engineer, mixing

Chart positions[edit]

Chart (1995)Peak
Australian Singles Chart[18][19]84
Canadian RPM Top 100[3]78
Irish Singles Chart[4]28
UK Singles Chart[5]38
US Billboard Hot 100 Airplay[7]48
US Billboard Modern Rock Tracks[7]2


  1. ^ abTo Bring You My Love (CD). PJ Harvey. Island Records. 1995. LC 0497.CS1 maint: others (link)
  2. ^Maerz, Melissa (October 2005). 'PJ Harvey: Shedding light on British rock's electrifying dark star'. Spin. 21 (10): 82. Retrieved 4 July 2012.
  3. ^ ab'RPM 100 Hit Tracks – April 24, 1995'(PDF). RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 4 July 2012.
  4. ^ ab'The Irish Charts - All there is to know'. Irish Singles Chart. Archived from the original on 3 June 2009. Retrieved 4 July 2012. N.B. User must define search parameters and enter either 'P.J Harvey' into Search By Artist or 'Down by the Water' into Search By Song Title.
  5. ^ ab'Official Charts > PJ Harvey'. The Official UK Charts Company. Retrieved 25 April 2017.
  6. ^'unforumzed'. Retrieved 6 May 2016.
  7. ^ abc'PJ Harvey Album & Song Chart History Billboard.com'. Billboard. Retrieved 4 July 2012.
  8. ^Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. To Bring You My Love – PJ Harvey at AllMusic. Retrieved 4 July 2012.
  9. ^Hilburn, Robert (26 February 1995). 'A Potent Artist for the '90s: Singer-songwriter PJ Harvey'. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 4 July 2012.
  10. ^'CNN – List of Grammy nominees – Jan. 4, 1996'. CNN. 4 January 1996. Retrieved 4 July 2012.
  11. ^Matthew Schnipper. 'I Blame Coco f. Robyn, 'Caesar (Diplo Remix)' MP3'. The FADER. Retrieved 6 May 2016.
  12. ^'Plastic Little: She's Mature Album Review - Pitchfork'. Retrieved 6 May 2016.
  13. ^ ab'PJ Harvey Down by the Water 1995 Video – Maria Mochnacz – Photographer and Director'. mariamochnacz.co.uk. Retrieved 4 July 2012.
  14. ^'PJ Harvey Down by the Water, 1995 – Maria Mochnacz – Photographer and Director'. mariamochnacz.co.uk. Retrieved 4 July 2012.
  15. ^Aaron, Charles (1 January 1996). 'Artist of the Year: PJ Harvey'. Spin (1 January 1996): 58–60.
  16. ^PJ Harvey (1995). JBTV with Polly Jean Harvey(TV) format= requires url= (help). Event occurs at 00:24–01:05.
  17. ^'MTV Video Music Awards 1995'. MTV. Retrieved 4 July 2012.
  18. ^'The ARIA Australian Top 100 Singles Chart – Week Ending 30 Apr 1995'. Imgur.com (original document published by ARIA). Retrieved 25 April 2017.
  19. ^Ryan, Gavin (2011). Australia's Music Charts 1988–2010. Mt. Martha, VIC, Australia: Moonlight Publishing.

External links[edit]

  • 'Down by the Water' music video on YouTube
Retrieved from 'https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Down_by_the_Water_(PJ_Harvey_song)&oldid=996960681'

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