7.06-HOLE IN MY SHOE (Traffic)




I looked in the sky
Where 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

I walked through a field
That just wasn't real
With one hundred tin soldiers
Which stood at my shoulder.



     Spoken: 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.



Of the three Traffic songs that charted from the Mr. Fantasy project in UK, Hole in My Shoe was the biggest of the group’s hits, reaching the #2 position. Like Paper Sun, the song uses a sitar, which at first is used in a somewhat traditional manner, with a drone, but ends up being played like an electric guitar. In the introduction the sitar is accompanied by a flute, but by the time of the spoken B section this has been replaced by what sounds like a mellotron used as a string section. The B section is elevated by the mellotron’s rising tone and then deflated back into the A section by the mellotron’s falling tone. The most unique sound in the song is the B section, spoken by a child. The Mothers of Invention included a child’s voice repeating “What did you do, daddy?” in Brown Shoes Don’t Make It as part of a comedy skit. But I believe Hole in My Shoe was the first time a child was given central role in a song, and certainly it was the first time in the Psychedelic Masterworks. Later in the year the Incredible String Band would use a woman’s voice as innocent commentary in A Very Cellular Song, and among the last late echoes of the first wave of psychedelia, 10cc would use a child’s voice for the successful radio hit I’m Not in Love.

Dave Mason wrote this song, and he wrote a great many of Traffic’s songs, including those among the most popular. Feeling Alright, another of Mason’s songs, was probably the best known of Traffic songs in the United States in the 1960s. However, Winwood complained frequently that Mason did not share the aesthetics of the rest of the group, and Mason often quit the group to return again and again. Hole in My Shoe displays an aesthetic that has more to do with Strawberry Alarm Clock’s Incense and Peppermints and the Lemon Pipers’ Green Tambourine, that is, the extremely popular genre (for a time) of “bubblegum” psychedelia, than the jazz orientation of Traffic as a whole. Wordsworth’s childhood innocence promoted by the Beatles in early 1967 as a means by which to see things freshly could easily become cloying. Dave Mason was not the only offender; there are moments in Donovan’s For Little Ones that are also too sweet. But Mason didn’t write another song that made it into the Psychedelic Masterworks.