These Boots Are Made For Walkin'

Album: Boots (1966)
Charted: 1 1
  • Nancy is Frank Sinatra's daughter. She is best known for this song, but is far from a one-hit-wonder: she charted 10 times on the US Top 40 from 1966-1968, with six solo hits, three duets with Lee Hazlewood and one with her dad - the #1 "Somethin' Stupid." She also appeared in several movies, including Speedway with Elvis Presley.
  • Nancy was on the same record label as her famous father, but they were going to drop her because her first few singles flopped. Things changed when they teamed her with producer Lee Hazlewood, who wrote this for her and had her lower her delivery. The first attempt was "So Long Babe," which was a minor hit and the second was "These Boots are Made For Walkin'." Nancy regretted the song, saying in 1971, "The image created by 'Boots' isn't the real me. 'Boots' was hard and I'm as soft as they come."

    But then Lee had written the song for himself: "It was a party song I had written two or three years before that. It was a joke to begin with. I had written a beautiful song for her, 'The City Never Sleeps At Night,' and she wondered if it would sell. I replied, 'Three times more than 'So Long Babe,' and that did 60,000. We're building up your career.' I changed my mind and put it on the back of 'Boots' and that sold 6 million."
  • Lee Hazlewood said of this song: "When 'Boots' was #1 in half the countries in the world, Nancy came over to my house, and she was crying. She said, 'They didn't pick up on my option at Reprise and they said I owed them $12,000.' I said, 'You're kidding, we've got the biggest record in the world.' I rang my lawyer in New York and I rang Nancy the next day and said, 'How would you like $1 million? I've got three labels that are offering that for you right now and I can get something pretty good for myself as well.' She talked to her father and he said she could write her own contract with Reprise - after all she was selling more records than him at the time." (Quotes from 1000 UK #1 Hits.)
  • Nancy Sinatra recalled in the documentary The Wrecking Crew that Lee Hazlewood was going to record the song himself, but she talked him out of it. Said Sinatra, "When a guy sings it, the song sounds harsh and abusive, but it's perfect for a little girl."
  • Hazlewood had a long and distinctive career as a songwriter, producer and performer. He did a series of duets with Nancy Sinatra in the mid-'60s where he often had her play up the sexuality of the songs. Hazlewood also worked with Duane Eddy, and enjoyed a resurgence in the '90s when a younger generation discovered his earlier solo efforts.
  • Hazlewood often drew inspiration for his songs from regular people. In a Blender magazine interview, he said he was in a Texas bar when some patrons started razzing an older guy about his younger girlfriend and how she controlled him. The man responded by putting his feet on a barstool and saying, "I know what you think - that she might be the boss. But I am the boss of my house, and these boots will walk all over her the day that I'm not."
  • Talk about a "walking" bass line - to accompany the image of boots walking all over a man, Chuck Berghofer was brought in to play the string bass (Carol Kaye played the electric). Hazelwood had him play short sliding notes to get the sound.
  • Thanks to a company called Color-Sonics, a fashionable video was made for this song showing Nancy with a troupe of dancers performing this song in boots, sweaters, and little else. Color-Sonics made video jukeboxes for bars; you could pop a few quarters into the machine and a film reel would play. Knowing their audience, they commissioned the "Boots" video, which was directed by Robert Sidney, a choreographer who worked on the movies Where the Boys Are and Valley of the Dolls.

    Color-Sonics wasn't around much longer, but the video showed up in a number of documentaries and other entertainment or news programs. The video made its way onto YouTube in 2010, where it garnered well over 100 million views.
  • In the 1987 movie Full Metal Jacket, this was used in a scene where a prostitute solicits business in Vietnam. Another popular movie appearance of the song was in the 1994 film Prêt-à-Porter. This version was sung by Sam Phillips, who was always a big fan of the song. She told us that she would like to someday do a drastically different take on the song, as she feels the definitive version - Sinatra's - has already been done.
  • Megadeth did a cover of this for Killing is my Business... and Business is Good. The original edition included the uncensored version, but subsequent pressings include a censored, heavily bleeped version, due to songwriter Lee Hazlewood's refusal to grant the group the rights to re-release the version with its altered lyrics intact. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Kyle - Montreal, Canada
  • Jessica Simpson and Willie Nelson did a duet on this song for the soundtrack of the 2005 movie The Dukes Of Hazzard. Their version was produced by Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis with some additional lyrics written by Simpson. Nelson played Uncle Jessie in the movie and Simpson played Daisy Duke. In the video, a brawl breaks out at The Boar's Nest but it turns into a hoedown when a bunch of girls come in wearing daisy duke shorts. Their version was used in a TV ad campaign for Pizza Hut starring Simpson. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Bertrand - Paris, France
  • The Fixx recorded this for the 2002 album When Pigs Fly: Songs You Never Thought You'd Hear. Cevin Soling, who was the album's executive producer, explains how this came together: "The way I first became aware of that song was through a very, very strange cover that I don't think has ever been released, of that song. I used to listen to the Dr. Demento Show, and there was this band, Barnes And Barnes, who were known for having done the song 'Fish Heads.' They did this cover of 'These Boots Are Made For Walkin',' only they called it 'These Newts Are Made For Crawling.' I was pretty little, but that was essentially how I got to learn the song. And yeah, it was a great track, and the strange parody cover was sort of responsible for that.

    (The Fixx) took a long time on that track, because they were kind of going back and forth, because they really were kind of perfectionist about things, and they weren't just going to do something if they didn't think they could do it well. They made, I think, three attempts at it before they finally were happy. But they took it all very seriously." (Check out our interview with Cevin Soling.)
  • In 1996, Nancy Sinatra gave the famous white go-go boots she wore to promote this song to the Hard Rock Cafe in Beverly Hills. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Bertrand - Paris, France
  • Stan Cornyn, music executive and celebrated writer of liner notes, waxed poetic about Nancy Sinatra in the notes for this song:

    "'How should I sing this?'
    'Like a 16-year-old girl who's been dating a 40-year-old man, but it's all over now.'
    She looks good, dresses good, lives good, eats, drinks, loves, breathes, dances, sings, cries good. Five-foot-three and tiger eyes. A mouth made for lollipops or kisses, stingers or melting smiles. Ninety-five pounds of affection. She's been there already. Barely in her twenties, she looks younger. That look, like Lolita Humbert, like Daisy Clover. The power to exalt, or to destroy, wanting only the former, but unafraid to invoke the latter if the time comes. The eyes that see through, know more, look longer. Unafraid to pull on the boots again, toss off a burnt out thing with a casual 'So long, babe,' and get.

    A young, fragile, living thing, on its own in a wondrous-wicked-woundup-wasted-wild-worried-wisedup-warmbodied world. On her own. Earning her daily crepes and Cokes by singing the facts of love. Her voice tells as much as her songs. No faked up grandeur, her voice is like it is: a little tired, little put down, a lot loving. No one is born sophisticated. It's a place you have to crawl to, crawling out of hayseed country, over miles of unsanded pavement, past Trouble, past corners and forks with no auto club signs to point you, till you get there and you wake up wiser.

    She's arrived. She sings you about the long crawl. And makes you have to listen."
  • Eileen Goldsen recorded versions in French, Italian, and German in 1966. The German version ("Die Stiefel sind zum wandern") was prominently featured in the 2013 Orphan Black episode "Instinct."
  • A kinky interpretation envisions a miniskirt-wearing Nancy Sinatra inflicting both pleasure and pain with her go-go boots, but Nancy assures the Boston Globe that she was oblivious at the time of any S&M overtones: "No, I think I was too naive to have known anything about that."
  • This was covered by country singer Billy Ray Cyrus on the same album as "Achy Breaky Heart" entitled Some Gave All. Other artists to cover the song include LaToya Jackson and Crispin Hellion Glover. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Doogen - Evansville, IN

Comments: 24

  • Will from Singaporei see here that Nancy donated white boots to the Hard Rock. these would 've been the boots she wears on the cover
    of the single , but in the VIDEO, aren't the boots BLACK?
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn May 22nd 1966, Mrs. Miller* performed "These Boots Are Made For Walkin'" on the CBS-TV variety program 'The Ed Sullivan Show'...
    Also appearing on the same 'Sullivan' show was Nancy Sinatra; and three months earlier on February 20th, 1966 her original version of "Boots" had peaked at #1 {for 1 week} on Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart...
    * And of course Mrs. Miller' version is available on You Tube.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn February 27th 1966, Nancy Sinatra performed "These Boots Are Made For Walking" on the CBS-TV program 'The Ed Sullivan Show'...
    Six days earlier she performed the song on the NBC-TV program 'Hullabaloo!'... (See post below)
    Sessions drummer Hal Blaine played on the studio recording of the song; it was one of the thirty-eight No.1 records he played drums on between 1961 and 1976.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn February 21st 1966, Nancy Sinatra performed "These Boots Are Made For Walkin'" on the NBC-TV program 'Hullabaloo!'...
    One months earlier on January 16th it entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #64; and on February 20th it peaked at #1 (for 1 week) and spent 14 weeks on the Top 100 (and for 7 of those 14 weeks it was on the Top 10)...
    And on February 27th it reached #1 (for 8 weeks) on the Australian Kent Music Report chart...
    In Canada on March 7th it also peaked at #1 (for 1 week) and in the U.K. it reached #1 (for 1 week) on February 12th...
    In 2005 Jessica Simpson covered the song; her version peaked at #14 on the Top 100 and #2 in Australia...
    Ms. Sinatra will celebrate her 74th birthday in four months on June 8th (2014).
  • Daniel from Buenos Aires, ArgentinaOne of my favourite beginings, that upright bass falling down. I think that´s the fact that just starting the song everyone smiles and think: "bootsss!!!"
  • Mark from Seattle, WaNancy was the first person Elvis called when Lisa Marie was born. The famous "BOOTS" now sit in Nancy's home on each side of her Sofa...she had them made into table lamps.
  • Ken Sparkes from Sydney, AustraliaDoes anyone know the Nancy Sinatra song that was a top ten hit in 1967 "Lightnings Girl?
  • Jennifer Harris from Grand Blanc, MiMichigan School For The Deaf did a good job with this song,when they did their favorite songs of the 60s,I love this song,too.
  • Annabelle from Chicago, IlNancy's version was the best,this song should have been left alone.
  • Lalah from Wasilla, AkEver notice that Nancy can only sing 5 notes? There are no more than 5 notes to Boots. Devo should have covered this like they covered "Satisfaction"
  • Jim from Boston, MaThis song was also covered by Johnny Thunders, the late lead guitarist of The New York Dolls, the only one who ever did it with a rock & roll attitude since Nancy Sinatra. I first heard/saw him perform this (on a catwalk) at a show at the Channel One club (later The Channel) in Boston, in July of 1981.

    Jessica Simpson's version is so lame by comparison to Nancy's and/or Johnny's cover.

    Is Jessica Simpson the eldest daughter of "Homer" & "Marge," the one he left playing in the control rods at the nuke plant? Is that why she's so horribly brain dead?

    Anyway, to end on a positive note--I remember Nancy singing this song and also Barbara Feldon's Tiger commercial (before "Get Smart") as being the first examples of kittenish female sexuality to which I was exposed in the early-to-mid 1960s--not that it mattered much, as I turned out to be homosexual. But I do appreciate the impressions those two women made in their time, nonetheless.
  • Joe from New York, NyI'm trying to find a German language cover of "Boots". Anybody?
  • Pj from Okc, OkNancy did this better than anyone could ever do it! She owns this song!
  • Jon from Oakridge, OrSame here Alex, New Orleans, LA. Full Metal Jacket is the BEST. BTW, Frank Sinatra sucks.
  • Leya Qwest from Anchorage, AkGreat appearance by Nancy on Jay Leno's Tonight show back sometime in 90's. She kinda waltzed out goosestep-like from behind the curtains while wideclapping her hands with outstretched arms. Really sets the fun and attitude for the television performance. Not bad-looking in front of the camera for her age either. Not a megastar like her dad, but still a legend in her own right. On Larry King she mentions that when she told Frank about the Playboy centerfold offer and what they were planning on paying her, he shook his head at her and said "Uh-uh (as in no). Double it." Classic dad.
  • Andre from Bhcity, Germanythis song is also covered by the ska band Symarip, the hardcore band 7 Seconds and Operation Ivy. The Operation Ivy version is called "one of these days"
  • Alex from New Orleans, LaNo matter how great the song is as a rewritten cover , I will always remember it for the Da Nang prostitute in Full Metal Jacket.
  • Angie from Rockmart, GaI like the music, but the words do nothing for me
  • Caroline from Birmingham, AlJessica Simpson is a very beautiful girl but I don't know why she's over glorified for her "talent" which she doesn't have.I don't know who lied to her by telling her that whispering is singing.I think it's insulting to people who can actually sing.why would someone say she's a role model to her children? do you want your kids to think it's ok for their fathers to talk about their boobs?
  • Dee from Okc, OkI am really disappointed with the Jessica Simpson video. I really held her in high esteem and a great role model for my teenage daughter. Giving herself to God and being the daughter of a preacher, I really feel she sold out on this one. She should have better morals than this one. She really sold herself out to display herself in this manner. She didn't do the song justice at all.
  • Eetu from Helsinki, FinlandMegadeth also covered this tune on their first album. It's called "These Boots" and features sightly altered lyrics.
  • Wayne from Beverly Hills, CaLee Hazlewood, who wrote the song, intending it to be sung by a male vocalist (he recorded it himself in 1965). Nsncy Sinatra, whom he was producing at the time, spent six months persuading him to let her record it.
  • Horace from Western, MdLil Kim signs a (bad) verion of this song as the theme to tthe TV Reality show "Growing Up Gotti".
  • Staom Eel from Nampa , IdAccording to my father, when Nancy performed this song during a USO show for soldiers stationed in Vietnam, some of the soldier chucked their boots at Nancy. Apparently the soldiers didn't like to be reminded that their, "boots where made for walking", considering the soldiers had to walk every where. Supposedly she never returned to Nam.
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