The Beatles–“Old Brown Shoe” (Should it be any surprise that I like this song?)

lennon_oldbrownshoe

George is playing bass on this relatively unknown Beatles song00(composed 100% by him)
  
History of the Tune


  • Written and rehearsed during but somehow never considered for the Get Back projected (later resurrected as the film and album Let It Be), this George song is considered one of his oddest, a standard 12-bar blues form with some strange chords thrown in, an unconventional mix, and a placement (on the flip side of a controversial John single) that almost guaranteed it near-obscurity.
  • George wrote this little jam in late 1968, whether about his then-wife Pattie Boyd, one of his later affairs, or no one in particular, is unclear. It was written on the piano, not Harrison’s usual instrument, which accounts for the unusual chords.
  • The “Old Brown Shoe” that George is “stepping out” of in the song is, by the singer’s own words, the material possessions of this world, a nod to his recent Eastern spiritual enlightenment that’s also reflected in the duality, the balance, if you will, of his paired opposites: “right/wrong” is followed by “long/short,” “up/down,” “smile/frown,” “love/hate,” and “early/late.”
  • “Old Brown Shoe” was first rehearsed by the Beatles on January 27th and 28th, 1969. However, on his 26th birthday, February 25, 1969, he re-recorded a “demo” of the song which can be found on the Anthology 3 release. The most familiar single version was recorded on April 16, 1969, in four takes, with work beginning on “Something” immediately thereafter. Preston’s organ and George’s lead was added two days later on the 18th, at the very last Beatles session attended by all four members — “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” was then begun.

Little-Known Trivia

  • George sang into the corner of the studio, which accounts for the strange muffled sound of his vocal track.
  • Some references incorrectly list John as playing his Epiphone Casino on this track, but his guitar was edited out in the final version.
  • This is one of the few George-penned songs where he leaves room for himself to fill in a standard guitar solo.
  • Oddly enough, this was recorded the Wednesday after “The Ballad Of John And Yoko” on Monday, proving that John couldn’t wait two days to have the group together again!

Lyrics

Old Brown Shoe
Author: George Harrison; Lead vocal: George Harrison

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 replace 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 your, 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 you sweet top lip I’m in the queue, baby, I’m in love ith 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.


Credits

Recorded: April 16, 1969 at Abbey Road, London, England with overdubs added April 18, 1969
John Lennon – background vocal
Paul McCartney – bass guitar, piano, background vocal
George Harrison – lead vocal, lead guitar
Ringo Starr – drums
Billy Preston – organ

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