Traffic was always one of my favorite rock bands. I loved all the members, even the ones that couldn't stand each other. This cut was the first song Dave Mason ever wrote and one on which he played sitar. It is the most conspicuously Acid Beatlesesque of their tunes, at least in my opinion. I was wondering where it fit on the fab four's timeline and did a little research. Was it more influenced by the Lonely Hearts Club Band or the Magical Mystery Tour?
Turns out that it is sandwiched between them, chronologically speaking. Sergeant Peppers came out May 26, 1967, Magical Mystery November 27th of the same year. Hole in my shoe was released as a 45 in August of 1967. The B side was Smiling Phases. Hole in my shoe reached #2 in the U.K., their biggest hit after Paper Sun. But they didn't want hits, they didn't want to be a pop band and Mason took off shortly thereafter. In September of 1968 he was playing acoustic guitar on Jimi Hendrix's Electric Ladyland and later worked on All things must pass for George Harrison. Such a fine player.
There is a dynamite rare live version of HIMS from Sweden on Youtube. which unfortunately can't be shared. Trippy sitar intro. Reportedly the rest of the band didn't care for the song much. The infighting between Winwood and Mason is legendary. And sad really. Both so talented, the sum better than the individual parts. But there were obviously control issues. Winwood: "We all [Winwood, Jim Capaldi and Chris Wood] tended to write together, but Dave would come in with a complete song that he was going to sing and tell us all what he expected us to play. No discussion, like we were his backing group."
I got to see the band four times, the first time with my father in the early seventies, accompanied on the bill by John Martyn and Free. But my best traffic memory was in boarding school, we would set the alarm for four in the morning, play something on our stereo from John Barleycorn or Low Spark, light up a bowl of afghani primo and then fall back to sleep, waking up on a magic carpet in la la land. Didn't help my grades any but was great for my disposition. I get statute of limitations on this stuff now, right?