Lowdown

Album: Silk Degrees (1976)
Charted: 28 3
  • songfacts ®
  • Lyrics
  • Scaggs wrote this song with the keyboard player David Paich, who would later form the band Toto and write many of their hits. "Lowdown" was the first song that Scaggs and Paich wrote together; it was Silk Degrees producer Joe Wissert who put them together.

    In our interview with Boz Scaggs, he explained: "We took off for a weekend to this getaway outside of LA where there was a piano and stayed up all night banging around ideas. We hit on 'Lowdown,' and then we brought it back to the band and recorded it. We were just thrilled with that one. That was the first song that we attempted, and it had a magic to it."
  • This was the second single released from Silk Degrees. The first was "It's Over," which charted at a modest #38 in May 1976. Scaggs had little name recognition at the time, and sales were stagnant for the album until an R&B radio station in Cleveland started playing "Lowdown." Other stations followed suit, and it quickly became clear that the song had crossover appeal and hit potential. Scaggs' label, CBS, released it as a single and it climbed to #3 on the Hot 100 in October, spurring sales of the album along the way.
  • The song is about a girl who doesn't appreciate what her man gives her. The "dirty lowdown" is the honest truth - what Scaggs is encouraging this poor sap to face.

    The word "Lowdown" was popular slang meaning a summary of what's going on for real. The first Hot 100 entry with the term in the title came in 1969 with the instrumental "Lowdown Popcorn" by James Brown (#41, 1969). Next came Chicago's song "Lowdown" (#35, 1971).
  • Along with keyboard player David Paich, two other future Toto members also played on this track: drummer Jeff Porcaro and bass player David Hungate. The Silk Degrees marked the first time that Scaggs used these studio pros, and it was also his first album produced by Joe Wissert, who was a staff producer at Columbia Records who had previously worked with Earth, Wind & Fire.

    The crew for the album found just the right sound, a disco-blend that could play in dance clubs and pool halls. Scaggs credits Wissert for giving him and the other musicians plenty of freedom in the studio, resulting in one of the most successful albums of the '70s - Silk Degrees went on to sell over five million copies.
  • This won the Grammy for Best R&B Song of 1976, making Scaggs the first white artist to win the award (Leo Sayer was the second, taking the trophy the next year for "You Make Me Feel Like Dancing.")
  • The producers of Saturday Night Fever asked to use this in their movie, but Scaggs' manager turned them down and instead used it in the movie Looking For Mr. Goodbar. Not a good move - Saturday Night Fever became one of the best-selling soundtracks of all time.
Please sign in or register to post comments.

Comments: 13

  • Melinda from AustraliaIt doesn’t get any better than this song. In fact the whole Silk Degrees album is outstanding. Just hearing the intro to this song takes me back. Way back.
    I didn’t understand a lot of the lyrics back then. We didn’t have access to lyrics as they do today. It’s wonderful to learn what a lot of Boz Scaggs songs were about.
    And when Silk Degrees album came out. He had to be the coolest guy in his 30’s for his time.
    The songwriting was just so modern. About relationships. And it had that 70’s vibe. Where being cool about sex and relationships was was considered hip. No crazy drama.
    A hangover from the 1960’s I guess.
    Cause who was buying this album Silk Degrees?
    1960’s people who had just grown up.
    But really, the album Silk Degrees had broad appeal. Literally everybody loved the songs off that album.
    No. Boz Scaggs nailed it all. That moment in time. Quite an achievement.
  • Zabo from Pugh, Pa.September 11, 2018

    First off you just gotta Love this Bass line. we’ve all been in a lowdown situation at one time or another. This song is essential Boz Scaggs party dance song. Remember to look out for that dirty lowdown!
  • Ray Bigs from Whidbey Island, WaDoes anyone know the name of Boz Scaggs' Manager at the time of ...Lowdown & Silk Degrees? ...from Seattle but cannot remember his name. Thank You.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn September 25th 1976, Boz Scaggs performed "Lowdown" on NBC-TV program 'Saturday Night Live'...
    At the time the song was in its first of two weeks at #5 on Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart; and on October 3rd it would peak at #3 for two weeks...
    {See 3rd post below}.
  • Chele from Philly, PaGreat song... have always loved it! I remember when it first came out around the time I graduated from high school. I played flute (still do), so you KNOW I love that flute and piccolo!
  • Markantney from BiloxeAug 2014,

    Odd they didn't know they had a Hit on their hands and some DJ discovered it later. Shows how sometimes you never know?
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn June 28th 1976, "Lowdown" by Boz Scaggs entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #82; and October 3rd, 1976 it peaked at #3 (for 2 weeks) and spent 22 weeks on the Top 100...
    Was track one of side two on his seventh studio album, 'Silk Degrees', and the album peaked at #2 on Billboard's Top 200 Albums chart and spent 115 weeks on the chart...
    Three other tracks from the album also made the Top 100 chart; "It's Over" (#38), "What Can I Say" (#42), and "Lido Shuffle" (#11)...
    Boz, born William Royce Scaggs, celebrated his 70th birthday twenty days ago on June 8th, 2014.
  • Markantney from Biloxi, MsApr 2014, Ditto Mike in Alabama. He's got tons of cuts I like: slow, smooth, uptempo. I own a ton of his 70s, 80s, 90s catalog. He did a Jazzy type CD back in 2001 called "Dig"; it's one of his best but it came out around 9/11 so it didn't get it's due props. He's RRHOF level to me.
  • Laurent from Manama, BahrainThere is a very good instrumental version of this great song on David Garfield's "Tribute To Jeff". Garfield also recorded a version with the great Alex Ligertwood on vocals (ex- Santana) on his "Tribute to Jeff - Revisited". Check them out at www.creatchy.com
  • John from Fort Worth, TxI have loved the sound of this song since the day the album was promoted on TV ("Boz!") I'm just now learning the (to me) surprising and memorable lyrics. Now it all makes sense. I love this song. John 46
  • Mike from Hueytown , AlJust a cool song. Boz Scagg's music does not get enough recognition
  • Chase from Pasadena, CaNice... when I first heard it, I thought it was more of a mellow disco. Good summer song.
  • Ken from Leicester, NcJeff Porcaro on drums on this one as on all of "silk degree's"
see more comments

Director Paul Rachman on "Hunger Strike," "Man in the Box," KissSong Writing

After cutting his teeth on hardcore punk videos, Paul defined the grunge look with his work on "Hunger Strike" and "Man in the Box."

The Untold Story Of Fiona Apple's Extraordinary MachineSong Writing

Fiona's highly-anticipated third album almost didn't make it. Here's how it finally came together after two years and a leak.

Intentionally AtrociousSong Writing

A selection of songs made to be terrible - some clearly achieved that goal.

Kerry Livgren of KansasSongwriter Interviews

In this talk from the '80s, the Kansas frontman talks turning to God and writing "Dust In The Wind."

Allen Toussaint - "Southern Nights"They're Playing My Song

A song he wrote and recorded from "sheer spiritual inspiration," Allen's didn't think "Southern Nights" had hit potential until Glen Campbell took it to #1 two years later.

Tony Banks of GenesisSongwriter Interviews

Genesis' key-man re-examines his solo career and the early days of music video.