Walk On By

Album: Make Way for Dionne Warwick (1964)
Charted: 9 6
  • songfacts ®
  • Artistfacts ®
  • Lyrics
  • The songwriting team of Burt Bacharach and Hal Davis wrote this. Bacharach came up with the music, and David wrote the lyrics about a woman asking her former lover to leave her alone.
  • This was released as the B-side to Warwick's single "Any Old Time Of The Day." She'd had several releases that went nowhere, and her latest tune was, in the opinion of her label, her manager, and herself, her last shot at making the Top 40. Murray the K, whose show on radio station WINS was the top-rated program in New York, wouldn't play it. No matter how many people called and pleaded with him, he played the B-side instead because he knew that was the tune with potential. Warwick's record company wasn't happy with this, but listeners agreed with Murray and "Walk On By" became the hit.
  • Isaac Hayes did a 12-minute version on his album Hot Buttered Soul. A Punk band called The Stranglers also recorded it.
  • Other artists who have covered this song include the Carnival, D Train, the Four Seasons, Connie Francis, Aretha Franklin, Gabrielle, Gloria Gaynor, Kool & the Gang, Cyndi Lauper, Steve Lawrence, The Lettermen, Little Anthony And The Imperials, Johnny Mathis, The Miracles, Mitch Ryder And The Detroit Wheels, Helen Shapiro, and Mel Torme. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Jerro - New Alexandria, PA
  • Burt Bacharach (from Record Collector magazine): "'Walk On By' was the first time that I tried putting two grand pianos on a record in the studio. I can't remember if I played and Artie Butler played or if Paul Griffin and Artie Butler played but here were two grand pianos going on. I knew the song had something. It was a great date. I walked out of that studio and we had done two tunes in a three-hour session, 'Walk On By' and 'Anyone Who Had A Heart.' I felt very good leaving knowing that I had two monster hits on my hands. You never know for sure but you feel a great satisfaction."
  • On May 12, 2002 Warwick was arrested at Miami International Airport after baggage screeners found marijuana inside a lipstick container she was carrying. The UK publication The Sun reported the story with the headline: "Walk on high, Dionne." >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Alexander Baron - London, England
  • This was given the Q Classic Song honor at the 2012 Q Awards. Presenting the gong to Dionne Warwick, Tim Burgess (frontman of The Charlatans UK) said: "The song involves tears in the street, unrequited love and Groundhog Day-style heartbreak. If you listen properly it's everything but easy listening. It's utter devastation, given dignity by Dionne's rich, beautiful voice - one of the most soulful performances ever given."
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Comments: 24

  • Jennifur Sun from RamonaStill my fav Dionne tune. Would love to know from, Elle who else played on this song.
  • Stephen Richards, Sr from NashvilleDionne recorded this song on Friday, November 22, 1963, the day John Kennedy was assassinated. I'm wondering how it happened that they completed the recording on this historic and sad day?
  • Elle Ndevesn from NycMy father George Devens was the studio percussionist on this recording and did most if not all of the Bacharach / David recordings. My father was a brilliant percussionist and was a top studio guy for 30 years after he played with George Shearing. His vibraphone or tuned mallet work was outstanding as was all his percussion from gourds and bells to bongos and tambourines... unrivaled sensitivity and an innate sense of timing. I grew up in control rooms and it was probably the highlight of my growing up.
  • Donna from Ft. Lauderdale, FlThis song was also covered by Bobby Caldwell on his 1994 Soul Survivor album, a nod to Motown. I saw his live concert in St. Pete when he was on tour promoting this album, he was great.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn August 16th 1969, Isaac Hayes performed "Walk On By" on the ABC-TV program 'American Bandstand'...
    One day later on August 17th it entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #94; and on October 19th, 1969 it peaked at #30 {for 1 week} and spent 12 weeks on the Top 100...
    It reached #13 on Billboard's R&B Singles chart...
    On the same 'Bandstand' show he also performed the record's B-side, "By the Time I Get to Phoenix", and it peaked at #37 on the Top 100...
    Between 1969 and 1979 he had thirteen songs enter the Top 100 chart; with one making the Top 10 and it reached #1, "Theme from 'Shaft'" for 2 weeks on November 14th, 1971...
    R.I.P. Isaac Lee Hayes, Jr. {1942 - 2008}.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn April 19th 1964, "Walk On By" by Dionne Warwick entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #85; and on June 7th it peaked at #6 (for 2 weeks) and spent 13 weeks on the Top 100 (and for 5 of those 13 weeks it was on the Top 10)...
    And on June 20th it reached #1 (for 3 weeks) on Cash Box Magazine's Top R&B Singles chart (Billboard Magazine did not publish a R&B chart from Nov. 30th, 1963 till Jan 23rd, 1965)...
    Three covered versions have made the Top 100; Isaac Hayes (#30 in 1969), Gloria Gaynor (#98 in 1975), and the Average White Band (#92 in 1979)...
    In 1961 a completely different record titled "Walk On By" by Leroy Van Dyke reached #5 on the Top 100 and peaked at #1 on Billboard's Hot Country Singles chart.
  • Rotunda from Tulsa, OkI had this single when I was a kid in 1964 & was fascinated by Dionne's vocals on this & another '64 hit (Anyone Who Had A Heart). I didn't know she had a tough time gettng a hit in '64, until I read Songfacts background info above! Once her career got going she became a superstar. "Walk On By" was such a well-written song by Bacharach-David too. And didn't Dusty Springfield cover this song about the same time Dionne's was a big smash hit?
  • Mike from Norwalk, CtDon't forget Diana Krall's version..........WOW!
  • Anthony from Hermosa Beach, CaThe Isaac Hayes version was used in the movie "Dead Presidents"
  • Steve Dotstar from Los Angeles, CaYeah, I don't know how Vinnie Bell was able to get
    such a great scratchy chink sound on his guitar, that is at once no intonation, but yet if you listen real closely you can hear
    traces of intonation at the same time..brilliant piano part...a genius record!
  • Nick from Brisbane, AustraliaThere is a fragment of this by the Beach Boys on the Friends/20/20 cd. A nice bit of harmony, lasting about 50 seconds.
  • Musicmama from New York, NyTwo interesting facts about Dionne: She is one of many soul and r&b artists who began their careers at the Apollo Theatre in Harlem, New York City. And, she was the first African American female performer to appear before the Queen of England in a Royal Command Performance.
  • Musicmama from New York, NyBoth Isaac Hayes' and Dionne's version of this song are moving, although in very different ways. The differences are somewhat analagous to those between Joe Cocker's and the Beatles' versions of "I Get By." And, I very much like each version of the songs I mentioned, though for very different reasons. Dionne Warwick's voice and persona is emotional in a different way from Isaac Hayes', just as the Beatles are from Joe Cocker.




    I also very much like Aretha Franklin's (of course!) and the Stranglers' version of this song.
  • Sara from Silver Spring, MdMichael McDonald has a new single of this song that is available as MP3 files. It will be on his new CD "Soul Speak" the last album he will do for the Motown label.
  • Ian from Chicago, IlI really love Aretha Franklin's version. Dionne is great also.
  • Melanie from Terneuzen, NetherlandsNever knew the Stranglers did this song but since i have heard it it hasnt come out of my cd player... The Stranglers version is one of my all time favorites!
  • Mark from Lancaster, OhKaren Carpenter covered this, and several other David/Bachrach songs, on one recording. There aren't too many singers who could match Dionne Warwick on this material, but Karen Carpenter did. It's pretty amazing.
  • Andy from Arlington, VaThis is #70 on the Rolling Stone top 500 songs.
  • Helen from Oxford, EnglandThe Stranglers version is definitely the best
  • Ernie from KranjGreat guitar contribution from legendary session player Vinnie Bell.
  • Alicia from Chicago, IlI like both Isaac Hayes and Dionne Warwick's version of the song. But I definitely like the beat on Hayes version though.
  • Rob from Castaic, Cai like seal's version
  • Melissa from Green Bay, WiIsaac's version blows Dionne's out of the water
  • The Bear from Stirling, ScotlandThe Stranglers version of this song rocks
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