Socks, Shoes, Boots and Feet are the prompts for this week’s Song Lyric Sunday, suggested by Paula of Light Motifs II. I have chosen an old one from the swinging sixties by Traffic. A band that I really liked with two of my favorite performers, Steve Winwood and Dave Mason. The song is typical of the time and the lyrics are as silly as “I am the Walrus” by the Beatles.
This psychedelic song was written by Traffic’s guitarist Dave Mason, who played sitar on the track. Depending on your state of mind, you might find some weighty meaning in the song, but Mason says he was just writing down random thoughts in the style of a nursery rhyme. He also insists that he hadn’t tried LSD when he wrote it. In a Songfacts interview with Mason, he explained: “That’s the first song I ever wrote. It was my first attempt at songwriting. I mean, that stuff I did back then, when I listen to it, I cringe and realize I need to work on writing. But writing comes out of living. You have to have something.”
Dave Mason tells us that this song was “the beginning of the end as far as the other three guys were concerned for me.” The band’s second single (after “Paper Sun”), it was a the biggest UK hit for Traffic, but it wasn’t what Mason’s bandmates had in mind, since they didn’t think it represented their sound. Steve Winwood explained to The Sun June 26, 2008: “We never wanted to be a pop band but we had a hit with ‘Shoe,’ which was Dave’s song. Dave had his own idea about the band, the rest of us had another one – a not-quite-as-sensible one, really, because it wasn’t half as commercial.”Mason quit the band soon afterwards and Traffic began to develop a less commercial sound, which put an end to their run of hit singles in the UK. However their new material proved popular on American Rock stations and it gave the band a second wind across the Atlantic.
The monologue in the middle of the song was by Francine Heimann. Little is known about her.
In 1984 Neil (AKA actor Nigel Planer) recorded a humorous cover, which again fell one place short from topping the UK charts. Neil was a hippie character played by Nigel Planer in the BBC comedy series The Young Ones and there was a great deal of comic potential in Planer’s hippie student singing about the “hole in my shoe letting in water.” It won the 1985 Brit Award for Best Comedy Record, the only time the category was included. To promote the single, Planer performed this song live on the BBC music show Top of the Pops. In a memorable performance he stumbled and knocked down the scenery.
Traffic never performed this song, in large part because of Steve Winwood’s disdain for it. He once called it a “trite little song.”
Courtesy of Songfacts
I looked to the sky With an elephant's eye Was looking at me From a bubblegum tree And all that I knew was The hole in my shoe which Was letting in water (letting in water) I walked through a field That just wasn't real With a hundred tin soldiers Would shoot at my shoulder And all that I knew The hole in my shoe which Was letting in water (letting in water) (I climbed on the back of a giant albatross Which flew through a crack in the cloud To a place where happiness reigned all year round And music played ever so loudly) I started to fall And suddenly woke And the dew on the grass Had soaked through my coat And all that I knew The hole in my shoe which Was letting in water (letting in water) Writer/s: DAVE MASON Publisher: T.R.O. INC., Universal Music Publishing Group Lyrics licensed and provided by LyricFind