The Beatles – Old Brown Shoe

Old Brown Shoe2Would you call this a work of art?

Far from the love-me-goo of the Beatles’ shtick, pre-’65, and quickly overdubbed in the twilight of their studio-bound seclusion, “Old Brown Shoe” is a song I can’t quite put my finger on.

Maybe it’s about what it sounds like—a strident back-beat* that pushes a wall of sound (a bed of organ laced with the upper keys of a piano and a slide guitar or a Telecaster), giving as good as it can.  As for lyrical intent, I don’t know what the hell George is singing about, but I’ll take a gander:  He’s an eager chap out for some real love, and YOU could be the one that does it for him.  To put him over the top; to make him come just like honey.  Who knows?  It’s a playful, nothing lyric that could mean something, or nothing.  That’s fine.

So.  The song is a slightly menacing, lascivious run on a Carl Perkins rave, a burst of 50s rock stranged by the Beatles’ alchemy and mastery of the studio.  It avoids whimsy.  It also avoids the self-consciously arty shambolism they sometimes fell into, in their last years.

Here, in sonic force, the band returns to Hamburg a little wiser — and weirder — for the wear.  Like an old brown shoe, full of surprises.

*Dig that bass.  I mean, WOW.  

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