The Beatles: Old Brown Shoe (1969)

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The Beatles: Old Brown Shoe (1969)

Although there's probably no such thing as an obscure Beatles' song, this one by George Harrison comes pretty close. It was the b-side to Lennon's Ballad of John and Yoko, and made it onto the second Past Masters compilation.

But when the catalogue was remastered and reissued, it was pushed off the mono Past Masters in favour of another Harrison song, Ii's All Too Much (from Yellow Submarine).

As with McCartney's Get Back, there is something of a driving country-rock quality here, enhanced by the bass and guitar lines running parallel (Harrison said he played bass on it, it has usually been credited to McCartney).

Harrison's vocal is mixed very low and distant but lyrically (see below) it is one of his stronger songs where he manages to get his proclivity to wordiness to scan well. He matches the strident tone with a terrific, piercing guitar part . . . and you can feel him straining against the constraints of the Beatles (the zoo?) and that he was "changing faster than the weather".

Harrison was really on a roll at this point, he did a demo of this the same day as Something and All Thing Must Pass. (There is a demo version of it on Vol 3 of The Anthology, and it got an airing at the Concert for George, see clip below.) 

Old Brown Shoes lyrics

I want a love that's right but right is only half of what's wrong.

I want a short haired girl who sometimes wears it twice as long.

Now I'm stepping out this old brown shoe, baby, I'm in love with you.

I'm so glad you came here, it won't be the same now, I'm telling you.

You know you pick me up from where some try to drag me down

And when I see your smile replacing every thoughtless frown.

Got me escaping from this zoo, baby, I'm in love with you.

I'm so glad you came here, it won't be the same now when I'm with you.

If I grow up I'll be a singer wearing rings on every finger.

Not worrying what they or you say I'll live and love and maybe someday

Who knows, baby, you may comfort me.

I may appear to be imperfect, my love is something you can't reject

I'm changing faster than the weather, If you and me should get together

Who knows baby, you may comfort me

That love of yours, to miss that love is something I'd hate.

I'll make an early start, I'm making sure that I'm not late.

For your sweet top lip I'm in the queue, baby, I'm in love with you.

I'm so glad you came here, it won't be the same now when I'm with you.

I'm so glad you came here, it won't be the same now when I'm with you

For more oddities, one-offs or songs with an interesting backstory use the RSS feed for daily updates, and check the massive back-catalogue at From the Vaults.

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