This song was inspired by a comment a fan made to Fats Domino after Domino's car broke down: "Hey, look at Fats Domino, he's walking!" Domino then thought to himself, "Yeah, I'm walking," and wrote the song as he walked.
At least that's the story that has followed this song around for decades. Domino rarely gave interviews, so it's possible that someone (perhaps to promote the track) made up the story and gave it to the press. Domino did have a penchant for beat-up cars though: in 1950 Charlie Armstead, the owner of Club Desire in New Orleans, gave Fats an old Buick to lure him away from a competing club, the Hideaway.
Running a tidy 2:05, this song is an example of what Domino strove for: "Happy songs the people could remember." Anyone who has heard the song can likely repeat the first line, as it clearly sticks in your head: "I'm walkin', yes indeed, and I'm talkin'."
The song is about a guy who is really lonely now that his girl has left him. He hopes she will return once she sees what it's like without him.
It's not a happy sentiment by any means, but the story is secondary in this song, which is driven by the rollicking melody. The title also has nothing to do with the rest of the lyric, but makes a convenient rhyme scheme, since he can also be "talkin'." When Domino performed it, he often beamed a smile from his piano, unconcerned about the lyrical dissonance.
Domino wrote this song with Dave Bartholomew, a fellow New Orleans musician who did a lot of work arranging and composing songs for Fats.
This is the song that launched the music career of Ricky Nelson, who had 34 Top 40 hits in the US between 1957-1964. Nelson was starred with his real-life parents on the popular TV show The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, which ran 1952-1966 on ABC. According to Nelson's biographer Philip Bashe, Ricky got the urge to record when he was 16 years old and on a date with a girl who told him how much she loved Elvis, prompting Ricky to tell her Elvis wasn't that special and that he was going to make his own record. After a few years pestering his dad, Ricky convinced Ozzie - who was a popular band leader in the '30s - to let him record this Fats Domino song, which contained the only two chords he knew how to play. It became a surprise hit, equaling Domino's #4 chart placing after he performed it on the family TV series, The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet.
The Ricky Nelson version was released just a few months after Domino's. The original reached #4 US in April 1957, and Nelson's cover followed in that same chart position in June. It wasn't the first time a white singer had quickly covered a Domino tune: In 1955, Pat Boone recorded "Ain't That A Shame
" soon after Domino released the song. Boone's version went to #1, which Domino's stalled at #10.
Domino recorded for Imperial Records, the label that signed Ricky Nelson after his cover of this song took off. Nelson's version was released on the Verve label.
The saxophone solo on this song runs 33 seconds, taking up about a quarter of the song. It was played by Herbert Hardesty, who appears on several Fats Domino tracks, including "Ain't That A Shame."
Earl Palmer was the drummer on this track - he played on many New Orleans sessions for Domino and also Little Richard. The drum pattern requires some serious dexterity, confounding lesser stickmen who attempt it.
At baseball games, this is often played when a player for the home team draws a walk.