Caught George Harrison’s “Beware of Darkness” on the radio. “Beware of thoughts that linger…”—yes. (As inscribed on a little card plastered on the ceiling at Indica.) “Beware of soft-shoe shufflers.” Ray Bolger sings, “there was just one dance alive / the old soft shoe” in 1957; in 1953 Carol Richards sings that the old soft shoe was “the dance my daughters used to do”—that’s vaudeville. Harrison’s lyric warns of sales pitches—“beware of ABKCO.”
The “Beware of ABKCO” demo was cut in May, 1970; the Beatles finished “Old Brown Shoe” in mid-April 1969. Takes 1 & 2 of “Old Brown Shoe” were recorded on February 25th (along with first takes of “All Things Must Pass” & “Something”); Harrison has it worked out pretty good—what it lacks is Ringo (he’s out of town filming Magic Christian), McCartney’s bass, & Beatle harmonies: “Oo-ah, oo-ah-oo, oo-ah, oo-ah-oo….” A significant lack. A case can be made for the beauty of “Something” sans Beatles, but not “Old Brown Shoe.”
Harrison’s “Old Brown Shoe” lyric “If I grow up, I’ll be a singer / wear a ring on every finger” strikes me as fun—a nod toward Ringo, right? But—why “if” & not when?