“Walking is the favorite sport of the good and wise”, said author A. L. Rowse.
He has a point. We all know it’s good for us and we don’t do enough of it (if you wear a step counter, you’ll know all about that).
As we’ll see, walking crops up a lot in songs too, and is often used to mean ‘leaving’ or as a simile, e.g. ‘walking on sunshine.’
So, for your listening pleasure, we’ve compiled this list of the best songs about walking. So grab your walking shoes and check ’em out. Time to get clocking up those steps too!
- ‘Walking Blues’ (Robert Johnson) feat. Keb’ Mo’
- ‘Walking in Memphis’ by Marc Cohn
- ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ by Gerry and The Pacemakers
- ‘Walk On By’ by Dionne Warwick
- ‘Walk This Way’ by Run DMC ft. Aerosmith
- ‘Walking on Sunshine’ by Katrina & the Waves
- ‘I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)’ by The Proclaimers
- ‘Walk of Life’ by Dire Straits
- ‘Walk Like an Egyptian’ by The Bangles
- ‘Walk On The Wild Side’ by Lou Reed
- ‘Walking On Broken Glass’ by Annie Lennox
- ‘I Can’t Dance’ by Phil Collins
- ‘I Walk the Line’ by Johnny Cash
- ‘I’m Walking’ by Fats Domino
- ‘Walk’ by Foo Fighters
- ‘Walkin’ Through the Park’ by Muddy Waters
- ‘Walking Man’ by James Taylor
- ‘Walk Like a Man’ by Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons
- ‘I Shall Not Walk Alone’ by Ben Harper
- ‘Walk On’ by Neil Young
- ‘Walkin’ the Dog’ by The Rolling Stones
- ‘Walk a Thin Line’ by Fleetwood Mac
- ‘Walkin’ By Myself’ by Jimmy Rogers
- ‘These Boots are Made for Walking’ by Nancy Sinatra
‘Walking Blues’ (Robert Johnson) feat. Keb’ Mo’
‘Walking Blues’ is a blues standard written and recorded by American Delta bluesman Son House in the ’30s. Robert Johnson adapted the song and recorded a version in 1936.
Here’s a superb modern rendition of ‘Walking Blues’ featuring Keb’ Mo’ and a host of others in a round-the-world blues jam. This remarkable collaboration was put together by Playing For Change (PFC), a movement created to inspire and connect the world through music.
‘Walking in Memphis’ by Marc Cohn
‘Walking in Memphis’ is an autobiographical song by Marc Cohn after his experience in Memphis. Cohn describes the song as a ‘spiritual awakening.’
The story goes that Cohn visited Memphis to go to Graceland (as you do) and ended up in a bar on Highway 61 called ‘The Hollywood Cafe.’ There he met a black woman in her 70s named Muriel (who appears in the song), a singer in the bar.
In a 1992 interview with Q magazine, he explained, “she seemed to have some kind of intuition about me.”
She invited him to the stage, where they sang Christian gospel songs. Then, finally, she leaned over to him and said, “it’s time to move on,” referring to the grief he still carried for his mum, who passed when he was young.
‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ by Gerry and The Pacemakers
Originally a show tune from the 1945 Rodgers and Hammerstein musical Carousel, ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ is now better known as the anthem for Liverpool Football Club and a favorite song among supporters.
Gerry and The Pacemaker’s cover of the song in 1963 (reaching #1 in the UK) cemented it as a Merseyside hymn, but Frank Sinatra was the first artist to release a version in 1945.
‘Walk On By’ by Dionne Warwick
Written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David for singer Dionne Warwick in 1963, ‘Walk On By’ ranked number 70 on the Rolling Stone list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time, despite starting our life as a B-side.
It’s a great song about one-sided love and heartbreak: “If you see me walking down the street / And I start to cry each time we meet / Walk on by, walk on by.”
‘Walk This Way’ by Run DMC ft. Aerosmith
Rap band Run DMC covered ‘Walk This Way’ on their classic third album, “Raising Hell,” in 1986 (Aerosmith’s version was released 10 years earlier).
Initially writing off the song as “hillbilly gibberish,” Run DMC weren’t keen on producer Rick Rubin’s idea of covering the song. However, the track became a massive hit and the first song to fuse rap and rock genres successfully.
The lyrics are about a boy’s first encounter with a promiscuous cheerleader and are quite racy but were ambiguous enough to get airplay.
‘Walking on Sunshine’ by Katrina & the Waves
This pop classic has been played non-stop ever since its release in 1983, appearing in countless movies such as the brilliant High Fidelity (the scene where Jack Black pulls out a cassette and dances along to it).
The protagonist feels like she’s “walking on sunshine” when she realizes the guy of her dreams loves her back: “I used to think maybe you loved me, now I know that it’s true.”
‘I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)’ by The Proclaimers
Scottish twins Craig and Charlie Reid were unlikely pop stars in the ’80s, but boy did they knock it out the park with this one. ‘I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)’ was a monster hit, reaching number 1 in the US.
The lyrics are about being totally devoted to a woman, so much so that you’d walk “a thousand miles.” That’s a long walk!
‘Walk of Life’ by Dire Straits
The third track on their 1985 seminal fifth album Brothers in Arms, ‘Walk of Life’ uses a simple rock and roll rhythm with an intro riff played on a Hammond organ and synthesizer.
In what one suspects is an autobiographical song, the lyrics tell a story about a busker called Johnny, who is “down in the tunnels, trying to make it pay.” There’s no sign of Johnny in the video, though. Instead, sports bloopers were used for US audiences.
‘Walk Like an Egyptian’ by The Bangles
Songwriter Liam Sternberg got the idea for this song when he was on a ferry boat and saw people struggling to keep their balance. As they tried to keep their balance, they struck Egyptian poses, he observed.
He gave the song to the Bangles’ all-girl group, who were part of the eclectic Los Angeles Paisley Underground movement. The song became a massive hit for them in 1986, topping the US charts for four weeks and catapulting the band into the mainstream.
‘Walk On The Wild Side’ by Lou Reed
Former Velvet Underground frontman Lou Reed’s biggest hit, ‘Walk On The Wild Side,’ is about New York drag queens (Holly, Candy, Little Joe, Sugar Plum Fairy, and Jackie), which made it rather risqué at the time of release.
Reed said of the song: “I always thought it would be kind of fun to introduce people to characters they maybe hadn’t met before or hadn’t wanted to meet.”
‘Walking On Broken Glass’ by Annie Lennox
Written and performed by Scottish singer and former frontwoman of Eurythmics Annie Lennox, this single appeared on her 1992 album Diva.
The words are about a woman who is messed up about the breakup of a relationship, so much that it feels like “walking on broken glass.”
‘I Can’t Dance’ by Phil Collins
‘I Can’t Dance’ was supposed to be a send-up of ‘skin deep’ male models who can’t do anything except walk down the catwalk.
“I can’t dance, I can’t talk / Only thing about me is the way I walk.”
A frustrated Collins told Rolling Stone magazine that the audience didn’t quite get the song’s gist. “‘What does he mean that he can’t dance?’ They didn’t see the humor,” he said.
‘I Walk the Line’ by Johnny Cash
‘I Walk the Line’ is about staying loyal. Cash promised to remain faithful to his first wife, Vivian Liberto, while on the road (they married in 1954 when he was only 22 years old).
“I find it very, very easy to be true / I find myself alone when each day is through.”
Ironically, this song helped to catapult him into the limelight, and as a result, he became surrounded by throngs of female fans. As a result, ‘Walking the line’ became something of a challenge.
‘I’m Walking’ by Fats Domino
The classic ‘I’m Walking’ is a foot-tappin’, doozy of a song by the brilliant Fats Domino (co-written with fellow New Orleans musician Dave Bartholomew).
In this great song, his girl has left him high and dry, and he’s hoping she’ll come back to him.
It’s one of the most joyous songs about losing someone you’ll ever hear. It’s possibly also the shortest, at a blistering two minutes five seconds. In fact, the saxophone solo takes up about a quarter of the song!
‘Walk’ by Foo Fighters
From their seventh studio album, Wasting Light, ‘Walk’ is a song about starting over after losing your way: “Learning to walk again / I believe I’ve waited long enough / Learning to talk again / Can’t you see I’ve waited long enough?”.
In a music video that pays homage to the ’90s movie Falling Down with Michael Douglas, Dave Grohl plays a white-collar, road-weary worker who’s had enough.
‘Walkin’ Through the Park’ by Muddy Waters
Sometimes walking is your only option when things are tough at home.
Here, Waters tells of a man who’s out walking to stay away from his abusive wife: “No tellin’ what she’ll do / Now, the girl she may cut you / She may shoot you too.”
‘Walking Man’ by James Taylor
‘Walking Man’ is about the coming of winter (“well the frost is on the pumpkin”), but it’s also a song about parents – namely, his peripatetic Dad, Ike Taylor.
Taylor is on record as saying his dad was “emotionally sort of frozen.” This was probably a result of being drafted into the Navy and volunteering for a mission setting up bases in Antarctica. As a result, he was away from home a lot.
Here, his Dad is the ‘walking man’: “Any other man stops and talks / But the walking man walks on by, walk on by.”
‘Walk Like a Man’ by Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons
The chart-topping ‘Walk Like a Man’ followed their other number 1 hits, ‘Sherry’ and ‘Big Girls Don’t Cry.’
In the song, the narrator tells his son to ‘walk like a man’ after his girl has been telling dirty lies: “No woman’s worth crawlin’ on the earth / So walk like a man, my son.”
‘I Shall Not Walk Alone’ by Ben Harper
‘I Shall Not Walk Alone’ was written by Ben Harper and sounds like a modern-day hymn.
The words are comforting and offer hope in times of need: “When my legs no longer carry / and the warm wind chills my bones / I reach for Mother Mary / and I shall not walk alone.”
‘Walk On’ by Neil Young
‘Sleep Walk’ by Santo and Johnny was the last instrumental number 1 in the ’50s.
Indie rockers Modest Mouse did a great version of this song called ‘Sleepwalker’ where they added lyrics to it (the song is featured in our songs about dreaming playlist).
‘Walkin’ the Dog’ by The Rolling Stones
Written and performed by Rufus Thomas in 1963, it was recorded several months later by the Rolling Stones in 1964.
Dozens of acts have since covered it, including Green Day and the Grateful Dead.
‘Walk a Thin Line’ by Fleetwood Mac
Written by Lindsey Buckingham for Fleetwood Mac’s 1979 double album ‘Tusk.’
The song was partly inspired by Charlie Watts’ drum fill on the superb ‘Sway’ (from the Stones’ ‘Sticky Fingers’ album).
‘Walkin’ By Myself’ by Jimmy Rogers
As we’ve seen, songs with walk or walking in the title are popular in the blues genre, and here’s another cracker.
American Chicago blues singer, guitarist, and harmonica player Jimmy Rogers was best known for his work as a member of Muddy Waters’s band in the early 1950s.
He had a distinguished career, penning several songs, including ‘That’s All Right’ (released by Chess Records), which is now a blues standard.
In this song, he tells his love that he’ll be true: “Walking by myself / I hope you’ll understand / I just want to be your lovin’ man.”
‘These Boots are Made for Walking’ by Nancy Sinatra
Reaching No. 1 in the US and UK Singles Chart in 1966, ‘These Boots are Made for Walking’ was a ’60s sensation. Written by Lee Hazlewood, who said at the time, “it’s not really a girl’s song,” Nancy Sinatra convinced him otherwise with her tough, devil-may-care attitude.
More Songs About Walking / With Walk in the Title
- ‘Walk With You’ by Della Reese
- ‘Walkin’ By The River’ Ella Fitzgerald
- ‘Walk Away Renee’ by The Left Banke
- ‘Walk’ by Jimmy McCracklin
- ‘Walk Away’ by Indigo Girls
- ‘Walk A Mile In My Shoes ‘ by Joe South
- ‘Plug Walk’ by Gucci Mane
- ‘Walk On Water’ by Eddie Money
- ‘Jesus Walks’ by Kanye West
- ‘Wake a Walk’ by Passion Pit
- ‘Baby Elephant Walk’ by Bad Manners
- ‘Walk On (Keep On Movin)’ by Donna Summer
- ‘Walking In L.A.’ by Missing Persons
- ‘Walk Tall’ by Cannonball Adderley
- ‘Walk All Over You’ by ACDC
- ‘Walk The Dinosaur”‘ by Was (Not Was)