For Easter weekend, we’re doing a short series of articles around the very loose theme of “new beginnings”. First up, Nancy Sinatra with “These Boots Are Made For Walkin’”.
In the mid-1960s, Nancy Sinatra was trying to follow in her very famous father’s musical footsteps and make a name for herself as a recording artist. It didn’t go especially well at first…but then “These Boots Are Made For Walkin’” hit number one in both the US and the UK. Overnight, if briefly, her fame eclipsed even that of Frank himself.
“These Boots Are Made For Walkin’” was written by Lee Hazlewood, who also recorded a series of duets with Nancy Sinatra, including the somewhat risque (for the day) “Did You Ever” which hinted at all sorts of things but didn’t spell any of them out clearly enough to trouble the radio censors.
Lee Hazlewood also produced Nancy Sinatra’s other big hit, “Something Stupid”, a duet with her dad Frank. This also hit the top of the charts in the UK and US and to this day is the only father-daughter collaboration to hit the top of the charts. (Probably just as well…although I like the song, given the lyrics, the father-daughter combo on “Something Stupid” is vaguely un-nerving…)
“These Boots Are Made For Walkin’” tells the tale of someone who’s had enough. She’s clearly been putting up with the bad behaviour of a partner or lover for some time…doing her best to forgive and forget.
But then yet another incident comes along. Maybe some big blow-up, more likely something minor, but the last straw that breaks the camel’s back.
Then it all comes out…
You keep saying you’ve got something for me
Something you call love but confess
You’ve been a-messin’ where you shouldn’t ‘ve been a-messin’
And now someone else is getting all your best
I’m not sure there’s an easy way back from that, but Nancy Sinatra piles the pressure on in a verse I really love…it might not be the best use of formal English, but as a way for person at the end of their tether to get a point across, this is genius…
You keep lyin’ when you oughta be truthin’
You keep losing when you oughta not bet
You keep samin’ when you oughta be changin’
Now what’s right is right but you ain’t been right yet
I think we all know people like that. Almost whatever decision they make, somehow they get themselves into even deeper trouble than they were already. The harder they try, the further they fall.
Some of them have supportive and long-suffering friends, partners and families…often much more supportive and longer-suffering than anyone has a right to expect.
Others spiral down and eventually disappear from view.
So it’s worth remembering the old advice that when you’re in a hole, stop digging.
Maybe you don’t realise you’re in a hole at first. That’s when some event, like the love of your life walking out on you, never to return, can jolt you into the realisation that you’re below ground level already and sinking fast.
Or, as Nancy Sinatra put it…
These boots are made for walking
And that’s just what they’ll do
One of these days those boots are gonna walk all over you
That’s an important realisation. After a while, you’ve done everything you can. Either he needs to get with the programme or it’s time to go before he drags you down with him.
You owe it to your mate to support them. But they owe it to you not to put you in a position where, by trying to help, you get dragged into the same dark place from which there’s no return.
If they can’t do that, it’s time for a new beginning. A new beginning for them. A new beginning for you.
Yes, be understanding and supportive. Don’t throw everything up in the air the first time something goes off the rails.
But there comes a time in everyone’s life when they have to decide whether to stay and put up with miserable certainty or go elsewhere and give the odds of finding happiness a chance to work in their favour for a change.
Or, as Nancy Sinatra might have put it, there comes a time when you have to decide if your boots are made for walking…
PS — just before we get to the video, if you enjoyed this article, please give it a “clap”. You can also follow me on Medium (here)to get new articles as soon as they’re published. And why not check out my book “No Words, No Song”, where I write about more great songs like this one, available in the Kindle Bookstore (here).