25 Greatest Walking Songs of All Time

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?” 

“I’ve never actually walked 500 miles. I like walking, but that’s a bit much.” – Charlie Reid, “The Proclaimers.”

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.

21Walking 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.

18Walk 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.

7. You’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.”

4Walkin’ 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.”

 

33 Replies to “25 Greatest Walking Songs of All Time”

  1. How about “wander,” as a close relative to walk? If so, here is a great song: The Happy Wanderer.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Happy_Wanderer

    https://www.songfacts.com/lyrics/the-obernkirchen-childrens-choir/the-happy-wanderer

    I love to go a-wandering along the mountain track
    And as I go I love to sing, my knapsack on my back.
    Valderi, valdera, valderi, valdera-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha
    Valderi, valdera, my knapsack on my back

    I love to wander by the stream that dances in the sun
    So joyously it calls to me “Come join my happy song”.
    Valderi, valdera, valderi, valdera-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha
    Valderi, valdera, come join my happy song

    I wave my hat to all I meet and they wave back to me
    And blackbirds call so loud and sweet from every greenwood tree.
    Valderi, valdera, valderi, valdera-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha
    Valderi, valdera, from every greenwood tree

    High overhead the skylark wing, they never rest at home
    But just like me they love to sing as o’er the world we roam.
    Valderi, valdera, valderi, valdera-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha
    Valderi, valdera, as o’er the world we roam

    O may I go a-wandering until the day I die
    And may I always laugh and sing beneath God’s clear blue sky.
    Valderi, valdera, valderi valdera-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha
    Valderi, valdera, beneath God’s clear blue sky.

  2. Got to have…….”Ain’t Nothing Gonna Break My Stride”.
    Elvis does a great You’ll Never Walk Alone too. And, yes to “I Love to go a Wandering”
    Thanks Cam. Great fun!

  3. Maybe I’m dating myself, but I can’t believe you don’t list “25 Miles” by Edwin Starr. It’s so relevant to hiking. In fact I remember singing it to myself countless times while doing the Long Trail a few years back. “I got to keep on walking…I got to walk on…da da da da da da….”. Perfect.

  4. Aus legend Paul Kelly ‘To Her Door’ does include walking in lyrics but all round great ‘return’ song.

    And because when I am walking I love to see birds…his latest work
    Paul Kelly’s latest work (on birds..)
    https://m.youtube.com/playlist?list=OLAK5uy_n3EEpSOPF2zhNzSPUR0RSz0Rx9kwMzDU4
    based on poetry and prose…always see in concert if you can…

    Ok still a fan, but here are some others you might like to extrapolate on…Jubilee St by Nick Cave.

    I’m pushing my wheel of love
    I got love in my tummy and a tiny little pain
    And a ten ton catastrophe on a sixty pound chain
    And I’m pushing my wheel of love on Jubilee Street
    Ah look at me now…

    And nothing can beat Warren Ellis instrumental for ‘the transforming’

    Gives me chills every time I hear it and find myself humming and singing sans audio devices.

    https://www.newyorker.com/culture/personal-history/the-nick-cave-song-that-changed-my-life

    .

  5. Thanks to everyone for all the comments. As I mentioned in the intro, both the list and the article’s title are whimsical in nature. It’s really just a collection of songs with “walk” (or at least a derivative of the word) in the title, that popped into my head during a recent hike on the Stubai Hohenweg. I made a couple of exceptions to the “walk rule” because: A. I am genuinely a huge fan of Roy Buchanan’s music, and over the years I’ve often felt like a ‘Wayfaring Pilgrim’ on my travels, and; B. How can you have a walking song list without the Proclaimers?

    Cheers,

    Cam

  6. You’ll Never Walk Alone will be forever linked to Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy for me. Not sure how I feel about that 🙂

  7. I’m old. After several days on the trail there are songs that make me reflect. They don’t all have the words walking. A lot have to do with being a wanderer/hobo too.



    Don’t Fear the Reaper


    Gentle on my Mind “That tends to make me leave my sleeping bag behind your couch”


    Rocky Mountain High. C’mon. What hiking list doesn’t have this. “Now he walks in quiet solitude, the forests and the streams.”


    Home Again. “Sometimes I feel like I’m never gonna make it home again, it’s so far and outta sight.”


    Miles From Nowhere “Miles from nowhere, guess I’ll take my time, to reach there. Look up at the mountain, I have to climb, oh yeah, to reach there.”


    From The Beginning


    These Days “I’ve been out walking. I don’t do too much talking these days.”


    Dust In The Wind Well, yeah, you only get so many summers to hike.


    Stronger “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” Boy that applies to long distance hiking.


    Hard Time Killing Floors A VERY reflective song.


    Long Tall Glasses “I am a man of the road, a hobo by name. I don’t seek entertainment, just poltry and game.”


    Live For Today “by chasing after money, and dreams that can’t come true.”


    It Hasn’t Happened Yet An odd song about life and it’s expectations.


    Baby James “And as the moon rises he sits by his fire, dreaming about women and glasses of beer.”


    Loves Been Good To Me “I have been a rover, I have walked alone. Hiked a hundred highways. Never found a home. Still in all I’m happy.”


    King of The Road What long distance hike doesn’t this fit?


    Overkill “Ghosts appear and fade away”


    The Secret of Life “is enjoying the passage of time.” Even if it’s raining, even if it’s cold, even if I’m tired.

  8. The Happy Wanderer
    Orbernkirchen Childrens Choir
    I love to go a-wandering
    Along the mountain track
    And as I go, I love to sing
    My knapsack on my back
    Val-deri, val-dera
    Val-deri, val-dera
    Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha
    Ha
    Val-dera
    My knapsack on my back
    I love to wander by the stream
    That dances in the sun
    So joyously it calls to me
    Come join my happy song
    Val-eri, val-dera
    Val-deri, val-dera
    Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha
    Ha
    Val-era
    Come join my happy song
    I wave my hat to all I meet
    And They wave back to me
    And blackbirds call so loud and sweet
    From ev’ry green wood tree
    Val-eri, val-dera
    Val-deri, val-dera…

    Source: LyricFind

  9. Has anyone ever heard a hiking song with the lyrics:
    “At the break of day, blow the clouds away, and go marching down the road….etc.

  10. This is a great group of walking songs. Of course, there are others (some suggested above), but you’ve started an impressive list. You’ve got me running through all the songs I know about being outside.

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