It happens every year in January at the gym where I work out. I’ve actually belonged to two or three gyms in the metro area and it doesn’t matter which gym I belonged to or which part of town it was in, the January New Year’s Resolution crowd emerges exactly the same time each year. Suddenly, a once relatively uncrowded gym becomes congested. The newer and perhaps better cardio vascular machines are all taken. The weight room becomes the waiting room. They say that the two most common New Year’s Resolutions are a) exercise more and b) lose weight. I’ve always considered those two activities as different sides of the same coin. And please don’t misread me here, I applaud everyone who wants to lose weight or exercise more. It’s the healthy option and I’m all for it. I’m just always stunned by the sheer number of new people who show up at my gym every January and plunk down the cash for a membership. Half the commercials I see on TV now are for new gym memberships… There’s a guy at my gym, who I think is a chiropractor, who said to me a few weeks ago in a resigned tone, “Don’t worry, all of these newbies will be gone by mid-February.” Sadly, I can’t argue with him. I always thought they quit after Spring Break but I’m never paying that close of attention. I figured I’d post this now, vs New Year’s Day, as this is the time most of you are about to give up on those expensive gym contracts you only recently signed…
I don’t want people to think because I belong to a gym – and have done so for years – that I’m some kind of “Charlie Atlas,” body obsessed, weight lifter. I work out for the same reason everyone else does – vanity. I want my clothes to fit. I can’t afford another wardrobe. Nor can I control my rather unchecked appetite for fine spirits and good food. The Rock Chick is practically a gourmet and I credit my gym membership as being the only reason I’m not over 400 lbs. I never worked out when I was a kid in college, even though it was free to do so at the campus rec center. I was in my late 20s when it became apparent I needed to do something about my health. I was living on beer, pizza and cheeseburgers. I don’t think I drank any water from the age of 21 through when I turned 27. My weight was up in those days but not off the charts. I was in a hospital Operating Room where I was selling medical supplies to one of the hospitals that was a customer of mine at the time. The nurses were all yelling at me about some shipping gaffe my company had made. It had been a really stressful day. I saw these light bulb like flashes in front of my eyes. Knowing I was prone to high blood pressure back then, I asked the Head of OR to take my blood pressure. She was still grousing about something while taking my blood pressure, when suddenly she shifted on a dime to “care giver.” It was scary how quickly her demeanor changed. The anger disappeared and suddenly I wasn’t a lackluster sales guy, I was a patient. She slowly moved me onto a bed in the recovery room and put a cold cloth on my forehead and told me to remain silent. When I asked her what was wrong and she told me what my blood pressure was, I didn’t realize BP numbers could go that high?
I was laying in this rural OR recovery room, in a small town in northern Missouri, surrounded by, well, very old people who had just gotten out of surgery. I was laying there, silently sucking on crushed ice, with a wet cloth on my forehead in a suit and hastily loosened tie. I didn’t look like I belonged in this recovery room with colorful dividing curtains and beeping heart monitors. I was in my 20s for God’s sake. I was instructed by my customer, the OR lady, to get my stuff, talk to no one, and calmly drive home and seek medical help. The Dr, the next day, said what they always say. Exercise more, eat more healthy foods… perhaps even the occasional green item, fruits or vegetables. Maybe restrict the beer to weekends. I was determined to change my beer soaked, fried food regimen. I stopped salting things. But the one thing I didn’t do is spend a bunch of money joining a gym. I decided that I was going to try running, which was comical because the only times in my life that I had run prior were when somebody was chasing me.
There was a post office exactly 2 miles away from my parents house – where I was living at this highly “successful” time in my life. I knew if I could run there and back that’d be four miles. I figured, piece of cake. The first time I tried running, I made it exactly one block. If I’d had a beer in my hand and a cigarette dangling from my lips (I don’t smoke) I could have been mistaken for John Candy in Splash. Undaunted by the heavy breathing, nay, gasping for air I kept going but I slowed my pace to a quick walk. I seem to recall after that one-block “trot” having a stitch in my side. The next day, after work, I ran two blocks and then walked the rest. Pretty soon my weight and blood pressure went down and have remained lower ever since. Eventually I could run the whole four miles but frankly, I think it was just the walking that helped the most. Running can be very jarring. And it was legendary pitcher Satchel Paige who said, “Avoid running at all times.” For all of you New Years Resolution folks out there – why not start with walking? There’s no need to plunk down all that cash and join a gym. And yes, my gym will be less congested so we all win.
As I thought about this scenario this week I began to think about all the great songs about walking. Admittedly I was distracted yesterday when I discovered Dave Matthews Band’s new song, “Madman’s Eyes,” and posted about that. But as I slowly assembled this playlist, which you can find on Spotify under “BourbonAndVinyl.net Walking,” I was taken with how many songs all feel like they’re driving forward rhythmically. There’s no “Run To The Hills” but these tunes all have movement that can only help you along the way on your walk. And thankfully there’s a lot of great Fats Domino on here… it seems he was always walking somewhere. Whether you’re walking away from something or moving toward something new, at least you’re moving forward. I like that best about these songs about walking – if you’re moving forward you’re making progress. And lets face it, it doesn’t cost anything to go to a park and enjoy a stroll on a pretty day.
As always you can play this playlist straight through or on shuffle. Whatever suits you. If you have suggested tunes that would fit on this playlist, please mention them in the comments and I’ll add them. Here’s the link to the playlist with my thoughts on the tracks below.
- Aerosmith, “Walk This Way” – The perfect song to start with. I’ve been really into classic, prime Aerosmith lately. No Run-D.M.C. here however…
- James Gang, “Walk Away” – I saw Joe Walsh solo in 1980. My friend Brewster and I kept yelling, “Walk Away,” in the hopes he’d play this song. I think he misunderstood us, because eventually he walked away from the stage without treating us to this song.
- Talking Heads, “Walk It Down” – From my first ever Talking Heads LP purchase, Little Creatures.
- Johnny Cash, “I Walk The Line” – If you’re walking, I can’t think of a better companion than the Man in Black.
- Tom Waits, “Walking Spanish” – I love Waits. I was late to that party… I put his tracks on my playlists to either delight people or freak them out.
- Page & Plant, “Walking Into Clarksdale”* – This won’t be on the Spotify list but it’s a great track about walking into Clarksdale, MS… perhaps on your way to the Blues Hall of Fame.
- Fats Domino, “Walking To New Orleans” – I love Fats… he was the subject of one of our first posts…
- Nancy Sinatra, “These Boots Were Made For Walking” – If the boots are made for walking, walk baby, walk.
- Black Sabbath, “Walk Away” – From that great 2-LP Dio period of Sabbath.
- Aerosmith, “Walk On Water” – One of those great, stray greatest hits tracks from Aerosmith.
- Green Day, “Walk Away” – From that huge collection of songs released as Uno! Dos! and finally Tre! I may have been the only one who liked those records.
- INXS, “Just Keep Walking” – I love this early INXS track. Michael Hutchence loss was truly tragic.
- The Black Keys, “Walk With Me” – From the great blues cover LP, Delta Kream.
- Annie Lennox, “Walking On Broken Glass” – Such a fabulous voice.
- John Mellencamp, “Walk Tall” – Another great stray greatest hits track. Love this song.
- U2, “I Will Follow” – “If you walk away… I will follow.” What a lovely sentiment.
- Eddie Money, “Walk On Water” – If only we all could walk on water… Great track from Eddie Money.
- Fats Domino, “I’m Walkin'” – I still can’t believe we’ve lost Fats. I thought he’d live forever. His music is timeless.
- Depeche Mode, “Walking In My Shoes” – Depeche has a new LP on the way… this track is one of my favorites of theirs.
- Robert Plant, “Walking Toward Paradise” – Hopefully wherever you’re walking you’re headed to whatever your version of paradise is…
- Little Feat, “Walkin’ All Night” – I espouse walking but moderation people… no need to walk all night.
- David Lee Roth, “Sensible Shoes” – “Sensible shoes, ones that will lead me back to you…” Couldn’t resist this bluesy number.
- Green Day, “Walking Alone” – Whether you walk alone or in pairs, just get out there folks.
- Free, “Walk In My Shadow” – From their debut, the heavily blues influenced Tons Of Sobs.
- Donald Fagen, “Walk Between The Raindrops” – From his fabulous debut LP which is one of our favorite solo debut records. Very jazzy.
- R.E.M., “Redhead Walking”* – A bonus track from Accelerate that’s not on Spotify but should be on your stereo…
- Bruce Springsteen, “Long Walk Home” – One of Springsteen’s greatest late period tracks.
- Fats Domino, “I Want To Walk You Home” – Paul McCartney has a cover of this song out there somewhere…
- Paul Simon, “Diamonds On The Soles Of Her Shoes” – It’s nice to know a woman with diamonds on the souls of her shoes…
- The Police, “Walking On The Moon” – One of the first Police tracks I remember hearing…It’s on our Playlist of Songs About the Moon.
- Neil Young, “Walk On”* – From Neil’s famous “Ditch Trilogy” album On The Beach. Dive deep on the “Ditch Trilogy” on Neil’s Archives Vol 2…
- Red Hot Chili Peppers, “Walkabout” – From the underrated One Hot Minute, the first Chili Peppers’ LP I purchased.
- The Rolling Stones, “(Walking Thru) The Sleepy City” – Oh man, I used to walk through the dark city streets outside my apartment after a break up… Logged a lot of miles in the 90s. This track is slightly obscure but it’s the Stones, I had to include it.
- Journey, “Walks Like A Lady” – This is as close to playing the blues as Journey ever came. Great song, great vocal.
- Creedence Clearwater Revival, “Walk On The Water” – Creedence on what may be our third song about walking on water. Did Creedence have a bad song? I love all the live stuff they’ve been releasing from their archives like last years’ from the Royal Albert Hall in ’70. Love the lead guitar on this one…
- Jimmie Rogers, “Walkin’ By Myself” – I’ll use any excuse I can to slip some blues onto a playlist…
- Van Halen, “Pretty Woman” – Where the hero of our song attempts to stop a pretty woman who is walking by… I think we’ve all been there…
- Little Feat, “Feats Don’t Fail Me Now” – How many times have I been in a jam and thought, “feet don’t fail me now…”
- Cheap Trick Featuring Chrissie Hynde, “Walk Away” – Great pairing of Cheap Trick who I recently saw live and Chrissie Hynde who just did an LP of Dylan covers.
- AC/DC, “Walk All Over You” – Some dirty bluesy rock n roll. I would expect no less from Bon Scott.
- Dire Straits, “Walk Of Life” – One of their happiest, peppiest tunes. This will put some steam in the ol’ stride.
- Mick Jagger & Peter Tosh, “(You’ve Got To Walk And) Don’t Look Back” – I still remember when Peter Tosh performed this song on live on SNL and Jagger jumped on stage and sang it with him… Jagger had a white suit on with a Hawiian shirt… he took his shoes off. Iconic stuff man!
- Missing Persons, “Walking In L.A.” – One I got from the Rock Chick. Great song!
- Red Hot Chili Peppers, “Walkin’ On Down The Road” – This one is for Hillel Slovak! From the Peppers’ wonderful third LP.
- Jackson Browne, “Walking Slow” – Jackson singing about how I walk… slow.
- James Taylor, “Walking Man” – One of only a smattering of really mellow songs but you can’t leave this JT song off a walking playlist.
- Paul Butterfield Blues Band, “Walkin’ Blues” – I love anything off those first two Paul Butterfield Blues Band albums.
- The Police, “Walking In Your Footsteps” – If we continue to ignore climate change, alas we will follow in the dinosaur’s footsteps. Of course their extinction event was a meteor… ours is going to be self-inflicted.
- John Fogerty, “Walking In A Hurricane” – Clearly he was in Florida at the time. Rawkin’ track.
- Fleetwood Mac, “Walk A Thin Line” – When I bought Tusk, Lindsey’s songs were my least favorite. Now they’re my favorites.
- Led Zeppelin, “Walter’s Walk” – “I’m walkin’ the floor over you, I’m walkin’ the floor.” Oh we’ve all been there.
- U2, “Walk On” – From their last truly brilliant album, All That You Can’t Leave Behind.
- Lou Reed, “Walk On The Wild Side” – Who doesn’t enjoy the occasional walk on the wild side? We miss Lou today, man.
- Black Crowes, “Walk Believer Walk” – I’ve really been getting into the Black Crowes lately. I hope the brothers Robinson grace us with a new LP this year! This is a grimy, dirty blues rock thing.
- Kiss, “Strutter” – If you’re going to walk, show some swagger and strut!
- Little Feat, “Sailin’ Shoes” – “Put on your sailin’ shoes, everyone will start to cheer.” I’m not sure this is a fit but you gotta have shoes on to walk…
*Track not available on Spotify
There it is folks, our Playlist Songs About Walking. Whether you choose to listen to this while you walk or while you’re sipping whiskey, I just hope it brings you a little joy during these grim winter months. As always with my playlists I’m hopeful to have turned you onto something you hadn’t heard or at the very least, turn you back onto something you hadn’t heard in a while.
Keep moving, keep pushing forward. It’s a dark ride so always try and be walking with somebody, toward something good.