Walking is an ever-present symbol in human culture. Taking a walk can represent growth, exploration, and more. Artists, including musicians, often use it as a motif in their work.
Walking can be a metaphor for change or celebrations of joyous motion. And listening to songs about walking can evoke many things. Some songs are perfect for walking or running along, while others help to capture a meaningful journey.
No matter what kind of walking song you are in the mood for, you can surely find one or two below. Here we compiled a list of 13 of the best songs about walking. Have fun reading!
1. “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)” By The Proclaimers
Starting the list is “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)” by the Proclaimers. This popular folk rock song articulates the voice of someone deeply in love. He would “walk 500 miles and walk 500 more just to be the man who walked 1,000 miles to fall down at your door.”
“I’m Gonna Be (500 MIles)” uses the walking motif as a humble declaration of wholesome, authentic love. In this song, walking serves as a gesture of devotion. This is an example of how committed the singer is to the object of their affection.
Released in 1988, the Scottish musical duo initially gained popularity from the song with UK audiences. “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)” was then used in 1993 in the film Benny & Joon.
This introduced the song to American audiences and made it an international hit. Contemporary audiences may also associate the song with its frequent use in the sitcom How I Met Your Mother.
2. “I Walk The Line” By Johnny Cash
When you think of the words “I walk the line,” what comes to your mind? Let’s see what Johnny Cash‘s song has to say about it.
The 1956 song “I Walk the Line” is usually one of the first things people think of when coming up with songs about walking. For good reason. This beloved song has been popular for nearly 70 years.
Johnny Cash wrote “I Walk the Line” early on in his first marriage. The song uses walking as a disciplined and committed action. In other words, he’s “walking the line” of his commitment to his wife. Although Cash would later go on to get a divorce, the song is still a powerful testament to fidelity.
3. “Walk Like Thunder” By Kimya Dawson
Our next song is a special indie music gem and certainly deserves to be on any list of songs about walking. Kimya Dawson’s “Walk Like Thunder” is pretty long at 10 minutes. But it covers a whole wave of powerful emotions, all framed by the concept of walking like thunder.
Those not yet hip to Dawson’s talent should strap in. This song is filled with raw human experiences. “Walk Like Thunder” chronicles a series of traumatic life moments and mental health crises.
But through it all, as the song suggests, one has to “walk like thunder.” Here, walking symbolizes bravery, resilience, and progress through life.
4. “Walking On Sunshine” By Katrina And The Waves
Who doesn’t love the upbeat classic “Walking on Sunshine” by Katrina and the Waves? This song combines a fun beat with the fantastic imagery of roaming through a magical land of love.
The lyrics reflect what people feel when happy and in love. Everything is perfect and you can’t stop smiling. You feel like floating or, yes, walking on sunshine. The beat and the words make you feel good.
“Walking On Sunshine” was released in 1983 and was the band’s first hit single in America. The song is still popular today and frequently appears in commercials, movies, and television shows.
5. “Walking In Memphis” By Marc Cohn
For a 1990s soft rock take on walking, check out “Walking in Memphis” by Marc Cohn. The song is based on Cohn’s real experience of walking through Memphis while struggling with writer’s block.
“Walking in Memphis” details Cohn’s reflections on people who performed or lived in Memphis. He mentions several notable people such as Elvis Presley and Reverend Green. He also immortalizes a woman named Muriel, whom he met at a cafe before he was famous.
In some parts of the song, Cohn ponders whether these people ever experienced the same problems as him. The song was a hit when it was released, earning a Grammy nomination for Song of the Year.
6. “Walking On Broken Glass” By Annie Lennox
Our next song is “Walking on Broken Glass” by Annie Lennox. This strangely upbeat breakup song uses “walking on broken glass” as a metaphor for the pain of losing a lover.
This is a great example of how walking can be used in art to express an experiential process. In this case, the healing process after breaking up. Near the end of the song, the singer longs for her lover to take her back.
“Walking on Broken Glass” was released in 1992 and quickly became an international hit. Critics praised Lennox’s clever contrast between musical styles, as well as the song’s complex emotional expression.
7. “Walk On The Wild Side” By Lou Reed
No walking song playlist would be complete without “Walk on the Wild Side” by Lou Reed. The song uses walking as a motif for a journey or transition.
As you listen to the lyrics, you’ll hear about certain people and their experiences. These people appear to be real ones that Reed knew at Andy Warhol’s studio. The song is about these transgender women and gay men moving to New York City where they can safely be themselves.
“Walk on the Wild Side” also calls on them to take a walk on the wild side and express their true identities. It’s like Reed is talking to you about his friends while singing this song.
8. “Walk On By” By Dionne Warwick
How sad it is when relationships don’t work and you’re forced to walk by when you come across your ex. Despite the pain of a breakup, you have to pretend you’re okay when deep inside you’re breaking. That’s the message you get from Dionne Warwick‘s “Walk on By.”
Once you hear the lyrics, it will probably make you cry. Or perhaps you can relate to what the singer goes through. This song directs the singer’s former lover to “walk on by” when he sees her. Meanwhile, she is still heartbroken and cries for him.
The lyrics capture change, loss, and moving on. But there’s no hiding the fact that it can be a very lonely journey.
9. “Walk Of Life” By Dire Straits
The rock genre has some songs about walking as well, as demonstrated by “Walk of Life” by Dire Straits. This is a happy song with a really upbeat tune and fun to listen to while still holding some reverence for the human experience.
“Walk of Life” uses walking as a metaphor for the journey through life, highlighting an everyman subject matter. But as with most songs, the meaning is open to different interpretations.
One way to look at it is from the perspective of a musical performer busking at a subway station. It’s all about having a good time while performing for others.
10. “Walking Blues” By Son House
Our next track on the list is arguably one of the first songs about walking in contemporary music history. “Walking Blues” was first written and recorded by Son House in 1930.
Many arrangements of the song have been recorded. But the original House version has a powerful emotive quality that sticks with the listener for a long time.
“Walking Blues” captures the mood of a man reflecting on his life. As you listen to the words, you get the picture of a man past his prime years. He looks back on his life and misses the good times. For now, he is old and the years are catching up on him.
11. “Walk Like A Man” By Frankie Valli And The Four Seasons
Here’s another great song to listen to about walking. “Walk Like a Man” was a single by Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons.
The main message of this song is this: to walk like a man is to live like a man. This is what the father of the singer tells him in light of the latter’s breakup. It seems like his woman does things to hurt him, such as telling lies to his friends and lying to him.
His father goes on to say that no woman is worth crawling for. What he should do is be mature and walk like a man. Turn away from someone who is not worth his love.
12. “These Boots Are Made For Walkin’” By Nancy Sinatra
If you’re looking for the ultimate hot girl walk song, you’ve come to the right place. “These Boots are Made for Walkin’” by Nancy Sinatra is both feminine and empowering.
Listen to the lyrics and you’ll hear about a woman being played by her supposed lover. He offers her love but his actions don’t reflect that. For one, he keeps lying to her and doesn’t do anything to change.
The woman tells him that if he keeps messing up, it will be over. That she’ll leave and not look back, as referenced by the line, “One of these days these boots are gonna walk all over ya.”
13. “Walk On (Keep On Movin’)” By Donna Summer
This list will not be complete without Donna Summer‘s “Walk On (Keep on Movin’).” Perhaps not the most famous Donna Summer song, this early 1980s piece has an inspiring message.
Everybody can relate to this song. The lyrics instruct us to “walk on” from past experiences, relationships, or things that we can’t do anything about. Instead of lingering or giving up, we must walk forward.
The lyrics end with another meaningful message. It tells the listeners that once you get to where you are going, you won’t be far from where you started. But even then, you have to keep walking.
Summing Up Our List Of Walking Songs
As you can see, the walking motif is present across all music genres and eras. It does not only refer to the literal action of walking. It’s also symbolic of turning away from things that no longer serve us.
We hope that you found these songs worth listening to. Go back to this list whenever you need a fun bop to walk to in the morning. Or just something to listen to when you want to reflect on your “walk” in life.