#1133: Goin’ Down by Tom Northcott Trio

Peak Month: May 1966
7 weeks on Vancouver’s CFUN chart
Peak Position #12
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ did not chart

Still in his teens, Tom Northcott was gaining a reputation while making his rounds through the Vancouver coffeehouse circuit in the early ’60s. In particular, he frequented the Kitsilano area, the focal point of the hippie counterculture north of San Francisco.

In 1965, Northcott took over from Ronnie Jordan as the frontman for the Vancouver Playboys, already an established BC band that wore identical suits. They were considered one of BC’s top emerging bands, mixing a Beatles look with music stylings of The Ventures. Northcott established one of Vancouver’s first labels, Syndrome Records, which LA execs at Warner were impressed enough with to offer him distribution. While the Playboys toured the country that summer and fall, the label served home to their first single, “Cry Tomorrow.” The b-side, “She Loves Me, She Loves Me Not” was then pushed as a single backed with “Don’t You Just Know It.”

But by the end of the year Northcott left and, on 12-string guitar, he formed The Tom Northcott Trio with drummer Chris Dixon and Rick Enns on bass. They were soon regulars on CBC TV’s Let’s Go program for the next couple of years. Meanwhile they were selling out the top clubs in the area, such as The Afterthought in Kitsilano. They headed to California and played throughout San Fransisco and Los Angeles. This exposure got them further gigs and they opened for The Who, The Doors and Jefferson Airplane. In December 1965 they released “Just Don’t” to overall good reviews and it charted on both CKLG and CFUN. Their next single, “Goin’ Down”, followed in the summer of 1966.

Goin’ Down” is a song about a guy who’s telling his girlfriend that he knows she’s going downhill and heading for a fall. The lyrics describe the impasse they have come to: “have you done enough to me/have I done enough to you.” Given the hard feelings he candidly states: “look out girl I know you’re gonna fall/I hope you land the hardest of them all.” The viewpoint the guy sees is of a partner he is breaking up with who has been ungrounded. He concludes: “when you finally come to earth/and realize what you’ve done wrong/get rid of your useless friends/they don’t know what’s going on.”

The garage band sound the Tom Northcott Trio achieved with both “Just Don’t” and “Goin Down” caught on locally in Vancouver. “Goin Down” got some airplay on Edmonton’s CJCA and peaked at #49 on the Canadian RPM chart, but mostly due to its chart performance in Vancouver. It did not chart in the USA.

Tom Northcott Trio - Going Down 45 (New Syndrome Canada).jpg

Tom Northcott has a number of other songs that charted on the record surveys published by CFUN and CKLG from the mid-60s into the early 70s.  Many of these appear further up on the countdown of this 1130 Top Hits list.

Northcott was also one of a roster of regular performers to appear on the Vancouver based CBC TV show Let’s Go. Other performers to appear on the Vancouver show were Gillian Russell, Howie Vickers, Mike Campbell and Susan Pesklevits (later Susan Jacks). CBC ran the show each weekday from 5:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. The Vancouver show was aired on Mondays hosted by Fred Latremouille and Red Robinson. Winnipeg’s Let’s Go TV show was on Tuesdays, Toronto on Wednesday, Montreal on Thursday and Halifax on Friday afternoon.

For more song reviews visit the Countdown.

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