This song was written in 1930 by Fred E. Ahlert and Roy Turk, two famous songwriters of big band, swing, and jazz music. The song was recorded by a number of artists in the '30s '40s and '50s, including Johnnie Ray, Dean Martin and Ella Fitzgerald. Nat King Cole released what has become the most enduring version in 1952.
Many standards have been revived over the years by contemporary artists, but surprisingly, no version of "Walkin' My Baby Back Home" - one of the most popular songs of its era - ever made the Billboard charts after 1955. The most popular modern cover is by James Taylor, who included the song on his 1997 album Hourglass, his first studio album of new material since 1991's New Moonshine. Taylor's arrangement features acoustic guitar, jazzy keyboards, soft brush drums and even a whistle solo on the instrumental bridge.
The song tells the story of the dating adventures of a guy and a girl, which typically end with him walking her back home. We hear about them kissing and petting, grabbing some barbecue, and snuggling. Near the end, there is this odd verse:
She's afraid of the dark so I have to park
Outside of her door till its light
She says if I try to kiss her she'll cry
I dry her tears all through the night
This begs the question of why she is crying, and if he really is parking outside her door all night. This verse is altered in many of the versions sung by female artists, often replaced by lyrics about the guy getting lost.
This song provides a snapshot of an earlier time when folks dressed up for social occasions - he's apparently wearing a three-piece suit on this date. We hear about the talcum he gets on his vest when they start petting. This is a reference to talcum powder, which his date must have been using on her skin.