On the Kinks' nostalgic Village Green album, frontman Ray Davies warmly reminisces about his years growing up in a small English town, but on this track he realizes you can never really go home again. Places change and dreams fade. People grow up and grow apart, and all you have left are the memories. He particularly remembers his childhood friend Walter and how they would sneak cigarettes and talk about sailing away to big adventures beyond their small town. He wonders what became of Walter, if he shares the same fond memories of their friendship or if he even remembers him at all.
"'Do You Remember Walter' was inspired by a close friend of mine who met me once I'd had success, and we didn't really know each other any more," Davies explained to biographer Nick Hasted. "But the Village Green itself could be the youth I wish I'd had, after which I would have been something else. Probably, it's saying goodbye to youth, as well – that I'm a grown-up person now, and these are my childish thoughts about steam-powered trains, and playing cricket in the thunder and rain – what it was like, before I forget about it. Before I lose my memory. The record's about childhood, really. Lost childhood, but also just being a kid, and the naivete. Being naïve was something I found I needed to touch upon again."
This was the B-side to the single "The Village Green Preservation Society."
The Kinks included an acoustic version on their 1994 album, To The Bone. The song also appears on the compilations Picture Book (2008) and The Kinks Choral Collection (2009).
Colin Meloy of The Decemberists covered this on his 2013 solo album, Colin Meloy Sings The Kinks.
"It was the postwar generation. We wanted to move on. We had conscription; that was abolished the year I came out of college," he explained. "But the real Walter said it was coming and that it was evil. He set off living in a suburb and died a couple of years ago. He was one of those guys that wanted to change the world; he'd sail around the world and be free. There was also a guy who went to live in Canada; he made it out in time. So it was a gang of kids all wrapped in."