It bore little relation to the deep-thinking album music that Traffic went on to be renowned for. But “Hole In My Shoe” nevertheless remains a prime example of the psychedelic pop sound that was echoing around the UK charts after 1967’s Summer of Love. It was also the biggest hit single the band ever had.
Written by Dave Mason, the song was the follow-up to Traffic’s debut success “Paper Sun,” which had itself been a substantial hit, reaching No.5 in July. “Hole In My Shoe,” produced by future Rolling Stones alumnus Jimmy Miller, captured the dreamy, almost hallucinatory mood of the time. On the chart of October 18, it climbed to No.2, held off the top only by the Bee Gees’ “Massachusetts.”
Mason’s bandmates were less than thrilled with Island’s decision to issue “Shoe” as a single, with Steve Winwood later telling Mojo magazine that they didn’t want to release it. His colleague Jim Capaldi was more forthright, dismissing it as “pop bubblegum.”
Nevertheless, the track would spend three months on the chart, from September to December, by which time Traffic were debuting with their next hit and final UK Top 10 single, “Here We Go Round The Mulberry Bush.”
Soon afterwards, the musical disagreements hinted at by the difference of opinion over their most popular song had resulted in Mason leaving the band, for the first time. By then, the group were in the album chart for the first time with their debut set Mr. Fantasy, on which Mason played before his first departure. Traffic’s passage towards album rock was well underway.
Buy or stream “Hole In My Shoe” as a bonus track on the deluxe reissue of Mr. Fantasy.