Johnny B. Goode - "down Louisiana"

Kirill V.

Senior Member
Russian
Down Louisiana, Texas etc...

I've heard people using "down" a lot when talking about travelling / locating down the United States. But what about BE?
For example, is it okay to say: "I went down England and Wales and met quite a number of folks who could play guitar like gods"?

What about other parts of the world: "We went down the Greek mountains and valleys and kept wondering how beautiful the country was". Is it okay?
 
  • se16teddy

    Senior Member
    English - England
    The OED has a few examples from Britain of the use of "down" rather than "to" or "down to". 1899 C. Rook Hooligan Nights xx. 258 Five more splits met me jest at the right time down Clapham Common.
    1911 I. A. Rosenblum Stella Sothern vi. 32 I'll just see if she is down the bail-yard.
    1968 Melody Maker 30 Mar. 24/3 He just heard the news about Scotch and fags going up, went deathly white and rushed down the pub waving fivers.
    1987 J. Mortimer Rumpole's Last Case 140 Judges who brief themselves for the accused are somewhat rare birds down the Bailey.
    But what nuance would you wish to convey by saying "down" rather than "to"? My feeling is that "down" often suggests a cosy familiarity with the place.
     
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    Kirill V.

    Senior Member
    Russian
    Well... Somehow I felt that "going down Louisiana" was not quite the same as "going to Louisiana"... To me the latter sounds more like a specific trip, while the former is referring rather to travelling across the state, yes, perhaps with a sense of warm feelings toward the place... Please, tell me if I get it wrong!

    I still wonder, however, whether "down" would sound okay when talking about travelling across England/Wales etc. Your examples mostly refer to being "down" a specific place rather than a region in Britain (except the Clapham Common :).
     

    entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    'Down' can have a motion sense and a position sense. It is a straightforward use of the physical meaning of 'down' to say you travel down Florida or England, for example, if you're thinking of it as "from top to bottom on a map". On the map, it's downwards. This usage could occur in any degree of formality. But there is a very colloquial use where it indicates position: to me, 'down Louisiana' or more likely 'down Louisiana way' or 'down in Louisiana' (or in England 'down Somerset way', 'down in Cornwall') suggests a place: "over there, down there". It is still thought of as on the lower part of a map (compare 'up Maine way', 'up Lancashire way'), but it's also distant from where I am now.
     

    Kirill V.

    Senior Member
    Russian
    'Down' can have a motion sense and a position sense. It is a straightforward use of the physical meaning of 'down' to say you travel down Florida or England, for example, if you're thinking of it as "from top to bottom on a map". On the map, it's downwards.
    Thanks a lot! I never thought of this "geographical" aspect. Now I see why "deep down Louisiana" is close to New Orleans :)
     

    Keith Bradford

    Senior Member
    English (Midlands UK)
    For me it's a USA/UK divide; Down Louisiana, Texas etc. refer not only to locations in the USA but also sound very American to a British ear. But I agree with Teddy (#2) that this short version is used in Britain for individual towns and certainly for shops, pubs, even the Old Bailey.

    But it's also a matter of direction.

    Few people in Britain would say "I'm going down Devon / England / Dover" but everybody might say, "I'm going down to Devon etc". Even I'm going down to England (= southwards) might be said by a Scot (whereas an Englishman would say "I'm going up to Scotland" (i.e. northwards).

    (London, Oxford and Cambridge have locutions all of their own, using up, which have been dealt with in other threads.)
     
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    pob14

    Senior Member
    American English
    I had always heard Chuck Berry as saying "deep down in Louisiana", but I see that many lyric sites have "down Louisiana." That (without the "in") sounds very odd to me. Perhaps it's a southern US thing? (I've heard "down South," but not "down Louisiana" or any other specific place.)

    Edit: Just listened to a live version; he definitely sings "deep down in Louisiana" there. Second edit: found the most famous (original?) recording, and there's no question; he sings "in."
     
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    PaulQ

    Banned
    UK
    English - England
    Although most sites start with "Deep", some have "in" and some don't.

    Deep down in Louisiana close to New Orleans,
    Way back up in the woods among the evergreens... http://www.sing365.com/music/lyric....-Chuck-Berry/1698E3DBA57D6E0748256BCA0023C057

    Deep down Louisiana close to New Orleans,
    Way back up in the woods among the evergreens http://www.lyricsfreak.com/c/chuck+berry/johnny+b+goode_10064963.html

    and there's the odd one, the way I remember it:

    Way down Louisiana close to New Orleans
    Way back up in the woods among the evergreens http://www.metrolyrics.com/johnny-b-goode-lyrics-chuck-berry.html

    Then there's the youtube of Mr Berry performing his own composition, in which he clearly says "in" (see Chuck Berry Johnny B Goode live")

    I see there are about 120 cover versions of this song, so some variation is to be expected.
     
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    sound shift

    Senior Member
    English - England
    "Going down [place]" in the sense of "going to [place]" seems to me to be more common among working-class Londoners than among the rest of the British. In the third paragraph of this, you'll read, "My whole family are from south London, so I've been going down Millwall [a football club] from an early age." I have heard this usage in London.
     

    heypresto

    Senior Member
    English - England
    In BE, we sometimes say 'Down South' or 'Up North', depending on where we are when we say it. Living where I do, I would say 'Up North' (where, of course, it's grim) ;).

    Many BE speakers will also say 'I'm going down the pub', meaning 'I'm going to the pub'. And I often hear 'I'm going down the road', meaning 'I'm going to the (local) shops'.
     

    Kirill V.

    Senior Member
    Russian
    I had always heard Chuck Berry as saying "deep down in Louisiana", but I see that many lyric sites have "down Louisiana." That (without the "in") sounds very odd to me. Perhaps it's a southern US thing? (I've heard "down South," but not "down Louisiana" or any other specific place.)

    Edit: Just listened to a live version; he definitely sings "deep down in Louisiana" there. Second edit: found the most famous (original?) recording, and there's no question; he sings "in."
    Okay, assuming he sings "Deep down in Louisiana", then "deep" in this context would refer to a southward direction, as suggested by Keith and others, is that right? So "deep down in Louisiana" means "in the southern Louisiana" (and hence close to New Orleans). Did I get it right?

    Does "going down a state" always indicate going southward, in American English, however? For example: "I went down Virginia seeking shelter from the storm" (Fogerty) - does this necessarily mean he was going from the north to the south of Virginia?
     
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    JustKate

    Moderate Mod
    Down does almost always mean "south," although every now and then it refers to elevation, too. I grew in a small town with an elevation of about 3,000 feet and when we'd talk about going to the nearest city, which was considerably lower in elevation, we'd say we were "going down below."
     

    heypresto

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Okay, assuming he sings "Deep down in Louisiana", then "deep" in this context would refer to a southward direction, as suggested by Keith and others, is that right? So "deep down in Louisiana" means "in the southern Louisiana" (and hence close to New Orleans). Did I get it right?

    Does "going down a state" always indicate going southward, in American English, however? For example: "I went down Virginia seeking shelter from the storm" (Fogerty) - does this necessarily mean he was going from the north to the south of Virginia?
    'Deep' in this context doesn't in itself mean 'south' or 'southern'. It means 'far' or 'distant', as in 'deep space', 'deep in the forest', deep in the past, etc. So, from a geographical point north of Louisiana, it means 'a long way south in Louisiana'.


    No, the Fogerty line doesn't mean going from the north to the south of Virginia. It means going to Virginia from somewhere north of it. New York maybe.
     

    pwmeek

    Senior Member
    English - American
    Isn't it common in BE (from the big universities at Cambridge and Oxford) to speak of going down when speaking of going to London? I don't know that I have ever heard (read, actually) "going down London", but the down is definitely there.
     

    Keith Bradford

    Senior Member
    English (Midlands UK)
    Well, I didn't want to go into this too deeply, because it's been dealt with elsewhere, but from the point of view of Oxford University, everywhere else in the world is "down". (Those people in Cambridge probably think likewise.)
     

    heypresto

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Well, I didn't want to go into this too deeply, because it's been dealt with elsewhere, but from the point of view of Oxford University, everywhere else in the world is "down". (Those people in Cambridge probably think likewise.)
    And from everywhere in the UK, if not the world, we talk about,(on being accepted into Oxford University), going 'up to Oxford'. And if we are unlucky enough to be expelled from the place, we talk about being 'sent down'.
     

    pwmeek

    Senior Member
    English - American
    Incidentally, in the Chuck Berry song Johnny B. Goode, the names of the state and city are deliberately "rusticated" to deep DOWN in LOOZ-ee-ANN-uh close to NEW or-LEENZ rather than the usual lou-EEZ ee ANNa or luh WEEZ ee ANNuh. With Louisiana pronounced correctly, the in becomes an extra syllable and spoils the meter; rusticated, the in fits nicely into the meter.

    The correct pronunciation of the city name is subject to some very fine distinctions, and frankly I do not feel competent to pontificate upon it.
     

    Hau Ruck

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    I think we are forgetting a very important aspect of this. In the deep South, they often omit words when speaking. I fully believe "in" was intentionally left out to better represent the vernacular of the very place he was singing about.
     

    london calling

    Senior Member
    UK English
    And from everywhere in the UK, if not the world, we talk about,(on being accepted into Oxford University), going 'up to Oxford'. And if we are unlucky enough to be expelled from the place, we talk about being 'sent down'.
    There is a glossary of Oxfordian language here on the University of Oxford website.;) I quote:

    Coming up/Going downArriving at Oxford at the beginning of the term/leaving at the end (c.f. sending down).

    And of course it confirms what you mention about being sent down:

    Sending DownKnown as ‘termination of course’; where a student is expelled from the University for failing the First Public Examination twice, or from college for failing penal collections, or for a disciplinary offence.
     
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