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25 Greatest Walking Songs of All Time by ‘The Hiking Life’

This article comes from https://www.thehikinglife.com/2020/01/25-greatest-walking-songs-of-all-time/

Thank you to Cam Honan from The Hiking life for approval to republish his story. You can watch or listen to some of these songs and some special Australian additions!

The Hiking Life is a compilation of tips and advice on trip planning, lightweight backpacking techniques, and improving your wilderness skill set. It contains detailed information for more than 200 of the world’s great hikes and was put together with the mission of inspiring and enabling folks to go backpacking.

Six years ago I put together a whimsical list of 10 songs about walking; or more specifically tunes that included “walk“, “walkin‘” or “walking” in their respective titles. On my recent trip to the Alps, I jotted down a bunch of other such numbers while riding out a stormy night on the Stubai Hohenweg. As with its predecessor, this expanded listicle is completely subjective and hyperbolically titled, and really just meant to be a bit of fun.

Where it differs from the original collection is that this time around I’ve added a handful of “walking” tunes that reflect a lifetime of listening to blues records. Folks that are fans of this particular genre will likely recognise some of the songs in question. On the other hand, younger readers may well be left thinking along the lines of my twenty-something neighbour, who recently opined: “Jeez, Cam, you really are an old fart. Do you like any music that was made this millennium?” 

25.  I Walk the Line (Johnny Cash) – They used the title of this song (sans “I”) for the 2005 biopic of the ‘Man in Black’. How great was Joaquin Phoenix in the role of Johnny Cash? The guy may be a few biscuits short of a full packet, but he sure can act.

24. “Walk all Over You (AC/DC) – From the legendary “Highway to Hell” album, which was the last record the band made with lead singer Bon Scott before his death in 1980.

23.  Walking the Dog (Rufus Thomas) – This smile-inducing number was covered by the Rolling Stones in 1964, a year after it was released by the inimitably funky Rufus Thomas.

21.  Walking On Sunshine (Katrina & the Waves) – The only one hit wonder band on the list………ok, ok………technically speaking they did have a couple of other songs that hit the charts, but can anyone remember them (no googling)?

20. Walk on By (Dionne Warwick) – My mum would never forgive me if I didn’t include this beautiful song, which was composed by Burt Bacharach and Hal David and sung by the soulful Dionne Warwick.

19. Take a Walk (Passion Pit) – This song came out in 2012. Who says my tastes are antiquated?! Shout out to Bernie Wolf for the recommendation.

18.  Walk Like an Egyptian (The Bangles) – Speaking of antiquated, I was seventeen when this song was released in 1987, and if memory serves I had a crush on the lead singer Susanna Hoffs. In preparing this article I googled Hoffs – who is now 60 years old – and she still looks great!

17.  Wayfaring Pilgrim (Roy Buchanan) – One of only two songs on the list that don’t include a derivative of the word “walk” in the title (let’s call it ‘writer’s prerogative’). I was introduced to the raw and melancholic sounds of bluesman Roy Buchanan while at university in the early 90’s. Three decades later he remains one of my favourite guitarists. Bonus Video: Take a listen to his mesmerising version of “Hey Joe.”

16.  Walkin’ to New Orleans (Fats Domino) – In the 90’s and 2000’s I made multiple to New Orleans, and the only regret I have from those journeys was never having the opportunity to see the legendary “Fat Man” play live. A founding father’s of Rock n’ Roll and one of the Big Easy’s favourite sons, Domino passed away in 2017 at the ripe old age of 89.

15.  Just a Closer Walk with Thee (Mahalia Jackson & Louis Armstrong) – The Queen of Gospel joined by the one and only Satchmo at the 1970 Newport Jazz festival. Other luminaries performing at Newport that year included Dizzy Gillespie, Ike & Tina Turner, Buddy Rich, Albert King and Ella Fitzgerald. If only Time Travelling Machines really did exist…………

14.  Walk of Life (Dire Straits) – Toe-tapping tune from the band’s classic, “Brothers in Arms” album. I remember spending a lot of time in 1985/86 wearing out my copy – favourite tunes from the record were “Money for Nothing”, “Your Latest Trick” and the title track.

13. Walk This Way (Run DMC & Aerosmith) – The “daddy” of rap-rock tunes. An infectious remake of the 1970’s hit, which not only played a part in bringing Rap music into the mainstream, but also helped revive Aerosmith’s career.

12.  Walking by Myself (Jimmy Rogers) – After putting together the original list of ten, I couldn’t believe I left out this blues classic. There have been some great remakes of this song – Canned Heat and Gary Moore come to mind – but it’s hard to go past the original artist, accompanied by the legendary Big Walter Horton on harp.

15.  Walking the Back Streets and Crying (Albert King) – The Velvet Bulldozer’s version of the Little Milton classic. Bonus Track: Albert and the equally incredible Stevie Ray Vaughan playing “Born Under a Bad Sign.

10.  Walk (The Foo Fighters) – I’ve been a fan of Dave Grohl’s ever since being wowed by Nirvana at Fisherman’s Wharf on the Gold Coast, QLD, in January, 1992. The video of this song is a parody of the Michael Douglas film, Falling Down (1993), which co-starred the great Robert Duvall.

9.  These Boots Were Made For Walkin’  (Nancy Sinatra) – Nancy Sinatra’s best song after Bang, Bang (featured in Kill Bill Vol.1), and still one of the finest advertisements for mini skirts I have ever seen. Love the top comment under the Youtube video: “Someone’s Grandma is looking good in this.”

8.  Baby Elephant Walk (Henry Mancini) – It’s almost impossible not to bop up and down when you hear this song. Seriously, how could you not like a tune titled Baby Elephant Walk? It would be like having something against waterfalls or Labrador puppies.

7You’ll Never Walk Alone (Gerry & the Pacemakers) – There are a lot of excellent versions of Rogers & Hammerstein tear-welling classic (e.g. Elvis, Sinatra & Cash), but generations of Liverpool football fans can’t all be wrong can they?

6.  Walking through the Park (Muddy Waters)– Picking my favourite Bluesman is a bit like picking my favourite hike. Practically impossible. But if I had to select just one, I think it would be Muddy. No one ever sounded like him before, and no one has ever sounded like him since. The support lineup for “Walking through the Park” was Carey Bell playing harmonica, Sammy Lawhorn on guitar, and the legendary Pinetop Perkins on piano.

5.  Walking Man (James Taylor) – Taylor’s soothing voice is like a warm fireplace on a chilly winter’s night. This particular song is one of his best; the story of a boy who misses his often absent father.

“Well, the leaves have come to turning and the goose has gone to fly,
And bridges are for burning, so don’t you let that yearning pass you by.
Walking man, walking man walks.
Any other man stops and talks but the walking man walks.”

4.  Walkin’ Blues (Joanna Connor Band) – This blues standard by Son House has been covered many times over the decades by luminaries such as Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters and Eric Clapton. While preparing this article I was blown away by this relatively recent version of the song by the Joanna Connor Band.

3.  Walk On the Wildside (Lou Reed) – “Holly came from Miami F.L.A. / Hitch-hiked her way across the U.S.A./Plucked her eyebrows on the way/Shaved her legs and then he was a she/ She said, hey babe, take a walk on the wild side.” Gotta love Lou. In fact, I think I’m going to put on a Velvet Underground record as soon as I finish this post.

2.  Parisienne Walkways (Gary Moore)– The former Thin Lizzy guitarist has a few amazing songs with “walk” in the title, but if you had to pick just one, it’s impossible to go past “Parsienne Walkways.” Kick back, pour yourself a drink, close your eyes, and listen to the guitar legend from Belfast.

1.  I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles) (The Proclaimers) – Scottish twins Charlie and Craig Reid came out with this infinitely catchy tune in 1988. It went to number one in my homeland of Australia, and to this day I can’t hear “I’m Gonna Be” played without breaking out into a big smile. I suspect the Reid brothers feel the same way, as according to Charlie, “it makes about five times more than the rest of our songs added up. It enables us to make other records and stay on the road, getting the rest of our music out there. I’ve never actually walked 500 miles. I like walking, but that’s a bit much.”