Too much tertiary education... Former performer/wrestler, teacher, scientist; Published author & Father... Want to be a writer if I grow up...
Published November 17th 2020
Soundtrack your hike
With many parts of the world slowly coming out of the Lockdown, or scheduled to come out as Christmas approaches, this means people are able to enjoy going out and enjoying the outdoors for the first time in a long time. And that means people can actually go out and walk.
And, for those people able to enjoy an extended stroll or who will soon be able to enjoy an extended stroll, I have decided to put together a series of songs about walking. A playlist, if you will, you can arrange and listen to whilst out doing this whole extended strolling thing. Oh, and November 17 was American National Take A Hike Day. Just thought I'd throw that in…
Now, some rules: 1) One song per artist. 2) I have to like the song. 3) The song needs to be upbeat at least musically. If you're out walking, you don't want something slow, you want something that will help you keep your pace up. This does mean great songs like 'You'll Never Walk Alone' by Gerry And The Pacemakers missed the cut. But if you want slower walking songs, let me know! 4) Walking has to be front and centre lyrically. Or, in the case of instrumentals, it has to be a good pace.
Let's hit this and hit the road!
'I Walk The Line' by Johnny Cash (1956)
Never let it be said that I won't put a Johnny Cash song into a list when I can. One of his early hits, and possibly one of his biggest until the American Recordings series, it even gave the name to a biopic on the man. A great bit of country that crossed over to the mainstream. Cash was amazing.
'I'm Walkin'' by Fats Domino (1957)
"Yes, indeed…" One of the earliest songs that was considered rock'n'roll, Fats Domino had an easy-going voice and played some great piano, and his songs were very easy to sing along to. And this is one of his better known. Great song.
'Walk Don't Run' by The Ventures (1960)
An instrumental, from the peak days of surf music, one that many people know by sound but not by title. While it might not be the greatest surf instrumental, it is still really good and it still holds a place in the hearts of many. Interestingly, it is a cover, and the original had lyrics, but this version is now the better known and no-one remembers the lyrics anymore. The Ventures re-recorded it in 1964, and that version is slightly longer.
'Walking Back To Happiness' by Helen Shapiro (1961)
One of the many 45s I inherited from my father, this song is one I heard a lot growing up and it has always stuck with me. There is a very early 1960s jauntiness about it, but it is still so very good.
'These Boots Are Made For Walkin'' by Nancy Sinatra (1965)
A track that has come up before, this is just so good and has become, deservedly, a classic. I always thought Nancy Sinatra should have had a bigger career, but it was not to be. Still, we will always have this song. Just avoid the Jessica Simpson version…
'Walk A Mile In My Shoes' by Joe South (1970)
A song about tolerance, this plea for understanding is a great track with one of those sing-along choruses that make songs last. It seems that no-one remembers the song, and more and more in society it feels like the sentiment has not really taken hold, either. Shame.
'Walk Right In' by Dr Hook (1977)
In Australia we had a thing when I was at primary school called "Singing And Listening", where we'd have these great music books, listen to ABC radio and do an on-air musical lesson. This is where I first heard this song, and when I had the wherewithal, I went out and found a copy by Dr Hook (it's a cover version, but was the one our teacher knew about), and discovered a strange liking for this band with the eye-patched lead singer. What can I say? Great track.
'I Walk Away' by Split Enz (1984)
A song by New Zealand's best musical export (sorry, Dragon) that is often forgotten in light of them having so many other great tracks, and yet is one of my favourites by the band. It just builds, which many of their best songs did. This is from their final album, and unfortunately, there is no Tim Finn. Still, great track.
'Walk Of Life' by Dire Straits (1985)
From the great Brothers In Arms album, this track is probably the most upbeat on it. With that driving keyboard and Knopfler's unique guitar sound, this song just propels along and takes you with it. Such a good song.
'Walking On Sunshine' by Katrina And The Waves (1985)
Interesting factoid – the version we all love is a re-recording by the band of their original 1983 version! In the mid-80s, you could not escape this song. I think they played it at Blue Light Discos for years after its release. It was a song that could be guaranteed to get people dancing. It is such a singable, danceable song that it still gets my head bopping along. Love this.
'Walk This Way' by Run DMC and Aerosmith (1986)
The original version by Aerosmith on their own was good, but this re-recording started the rock/rap hybrid style and is just incredible. I can still spout all the lyrics, but only in the rap style. That is probably sadder than I should be admitting to.
'Walk Like An Egyptian' by The Bangles (1986)
Such an upbeat song about, basically, walking as if you were in ancient Egypt. Exactly what it says on the tin. This is a song that people of a certain age will just automatically crank up and sing along and then… whistle.
'Walk The Dinosaur' by Was (Not Was) (1987)
For a 1980s novelty song, this has come up before in a positive light, and that's because it is a fun little song. The dance was a pain, but the song itself was just one of those weird ear-worms that music throws out every now and then. Yet why we should walk the dinosaur out on the floor, I'm not really sure.
'When You Walk In The Room' by Paul Carrack (1987)
There have been so many versions of this song! Now, I would do a column on that, except… nearly all of them sound exactly the same. I think the Searchers did it originally. But there is something about this 1980s version that I just really like, so here it is.
'(I'm Gonna Be) 500 Miles' by The Proclaimers (1988)
Okay, there's no walking in the title, but who doesn't know that the chorus goes "I would walk 500 miles and I would walk 500 more…"? Possibly the best-known walking song ever. And it has a beat that you can so easily, well, walk along to.
'Baby Elephant Walk' by Bad Manners (1989)
Henry Mancini wrote so many great tracks for movies that it was inevitable some of them (a lot of them, actually) would be remade. And in the 80s, he was tackled by Bad Manners, who made their sole chart dent with a version of 'Can Can'. This is the same – speed up the original and add all sorts of electronic effects. I really enjoy Bad Manners; no-one remembers them anymore.
One of those rare cover songs that outdoes the original. Moore's guitar playing lifts this up and his singing captures the feel of exasperation of being alone. And the song just rocks. I've said it before, I'll say it again – Moore was a true legend.
'Walking In Memphis' by Marc Cohn (1991)
A song that has appeared before in a list, this song about, basically, walking through Memphis and looking at the sights is a little slow, maybe, but its chorus is soaring and the song is so very good.
'Walkin' On The Sun' by Smash Mouth (1997)
Smash Mouth did not have the longest time in the spotlight, but they opened their charting account with this track that seemed to capture the time and the music of the time quite well. Not sure what "hippy chicks" have to do with "might as well be walking on the sun", but the song still rocks.
'Walk' by The Foo Fighters (2011)
Latter era Foo Fighters, with Dave Grohl rocking out. Starts slow and builds up to a great rock track. The sound we have come to know as the Foo Fighters sound is so pronounced here. And the video is based on the film Falling Down, which I thought is worth noting.
And there we are, 20 songs about walking. Make up a playlist, go out for a walk (when you can), and just enjoy yourself. These songs will keep you company, get you moving and maybe even have you singing along and so people will look at you and, with any luck, join in.