Walk On

Album: On The Beach (1974)
Charted: 69

Songfacts®:

  • Young wrote this in response to Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Sweet Home Alabama," in which Young is told, "Southern man don't need him around anyhow." "Walk On" wasn't so much directed at the guys from Skynyrd (their feud was more good-natured than most people realize), but more towards the few southerners who felt some animosity towards Young for calling them on their inability to comply with the changing standards during the civil rights era. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Will - Happy Valley, UT
  • This song functions as a wistful ode to how life never stops changing, so you might as well accept it and walk on (rather than dwell on small things like the hostile southerners). It's characteristic of the melancholy and pessimism that permeated Neil's work around that time, particularly On the Beach.
  • In Johnny Rogan's The Complete Guide to the Music of Neil Young, Young is quoted saying that this song is his "own defensive reactions to criticisms of Tonight's The Night and the seemingly endless flow of money coming from you people out there."

    The criticisms he's referring to must have been the ones coming from record executives and other insiders, because Tonight's The Night wasn't released until nearly a year after On The Beach, but was recorded one year earlier.

    In August 1973, Young played a two-day benefit show at Topanga Corral. Both nights, Young and Crazy Horse started and ended the show with "Walk On."

    Young liked the concept and later incorporated it on the Tonight's The Night album, opening and closing the album with two different performances of "Tonight's The Night."

    A version of "Walk On" was originally intended to be on Tonight's The Night, but it had to be dropped (along with "Winterlong" and "Bad Fog," a still-unreleased song that Young feels is one of his best recordings) because it was "diluting" the album.
  • In Shakey, Jimmy McDonough relates that this song was allegedly inspired by Jack Nitzsche, but Young can't remember if that is or is not true.
  • This song and "For The Turnstiles" are the only two tracks on On The Beach that were co-produced by David Briggs. There would have been more, but Briggs got seriously ill the day after recording "For the Turnstiles."

Comments: 5

  • Tim from CaliforniaLukas Nelson & the Promise of the Real adopted their band name and early philosophy from this song when they formed in 2008. Kind of cool that they are backing Neil on his current tour.
  • Nikhil from Mumbai, Indiagreat song!sometimes i feel neil's lyrics are deep, other times i feel they dont mean anything.great song nonetheless!
  • Sam from South Kingston, RiI thought this song was about how much hated the
    critics and how wrongly they judged him. And doing this over a catchy melody. Beautiful.
  • David from , CaIn the (un)authorized biography, Shakey, Neil actually discusses this song. It isn't about Lynyrd Skynyrd, it's about Buffalo Springfield, written not long after he had left them at a critical point in their career causing much bad feeling. The book is called Shakey: Neil Young's Biography by Jimmy McDonough.
  • Fyodor from Denver, CoI've read this interpretation before, but I wonder if it's based on anything Neil has said about it or is it just speculation? I've also read that it's an answer to music critics. I think it's about former friends and/or bandmates, myself. I imagine the chorus is Neil responding to his wife suggesting that he go and talk to these old friends who have turned against him but he nixes the idea, preferring to Walk On.
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