I’m Walkin’ This Way

Run-D.M.C.’s Walk This Way was a gateway to an explosion of commercial success…for Aerosmith.

The Boston-based group Aerosmith had a hit with the song Walk This Way in the winter of 1976-1977 getting to #10 on the charts.

Then the rap trio from Queens, NYC, Run-D.M.C., covered Walk This Way, significantly including Aerosmith’s Steve Tyler on vocals and Joe Perry on guitar. That version got to #4 in 1986 on the pop charts and #8 on the black charts.

What I loved about the latter version is probably anathema to librarian types. I HATE categories in music. I find it at least as divisive as I find it informative. It seems to create the mindset of “I don’t like THAT kind of music,” when I believe there is a basic commonality of music that defies boundaries.

After the latter version hit, Run-D.M.C. continued to have success on the black or R&B charts and even had some minor hits on the pop charts.

After having only two Top 20 hits, the other being the longer version of Dream On (#6 in 1976), and not even a Top 100 on the US pop charts since 1979’s “Remember (Walking in the Sand)” which only got to #67, Aerosmith exploded commercially in the late 1980s, including “Dude (Looks Like a Lady)” (#14 in 1987); “Angel” (#3 in 1988), “Rag Doll” (#17 in 1988); “Love in an Elevator” (#5 in 1989), “Janie’s Got a Gun” (#4 in 1989); then more hits into the 1990s.
Incidentally, the name of the charts of music generally associated with African-Americans has changed several times, from rhythm & blues (or R&B) to soul to black, back to R&B to R&B/hip-hop. At least they stopped using the term “race records” back in the 1940s.

I’m Walkin’, Renee

Officer Bobby Hill on Hill Street Blues should not to be confused with the kid on the animated program King of the Hill.

Walk Away Renee was clearly the biggest hit for a New York City band called The Left Banke. The lead singer is named Steve Martin, but it’s not the noted comedian. The song reached #5 on the Billboard charts in 1966, made the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame list and is #220 on the Rolling Stone top 500 list. Listen to it HERE.

It was covered by the legendary Motown group The Four Tops, with the great lead singer Levi Stubbs. The recording went to #14 on the pop charts and #15 on the rhythm & blues charts. Listen to it HERE.

When I worked at FantaCo in the 1980s, my boss Tom and I were big fans of the then-current cop drama Hill Street Blues. At one point, Officer Bobby Hill (Michael Warren, pictured) – not to be confused with the kid on the animated program King of the Hill – mentioned liking Walk Away Renee, and said that it came out in 1968. We theorized that this was not an error on the part of the writers, but that Bobby listened to the black radio stations in his youth and was familiar only with the Four Tops version, not the original.

Love this parody of the New Titan Titans #1 in MAD magazine #507, but I wonder how many of the MAD readers know the 30-year-old comic cover well enough to truly appreciate the takeoff.

I’m Walkin’, Yes Indeed

I will regularly be posting something called I’m Walking; it means, no time for blogging.

In some very specific ways, it has been a difficult year for me. One of my great joys was playing racquetball at the local YMCA. I did that from December 1982 until it closed at the end of April 2010. My racquetball buddies shifted to Siena College’s courts, and I tried that for a couple of weeks, but it proved to be untenable, schedule-wise. In any case, now that I’m taking the Daughter to school every weekday, it wouldn’t have worked out, even if I were still had the Y as an option.

Well, at least I have my bicycle. Well, I DID, until it was stolen from me about a month ago. I was less than six feet away when it happened, and I was so ENRAGED – I hate it when I’m enraged, not AT ALL a good place for me to be – that I’ve barely mentioned it. (It’s a maroon Trek hybrid that has been subsequently seen twice by friends, once at Lexington and Clinton, once behind the main library; it’s a very distinctive bike.)

So, in order to get ANY exercise, at least until we get the stationary bike fixed, I’ve taken to getting up and walking in the morning. Or walking to and/or from church. But walking takes more time than biking, and time is not fungible. The only time I have available is that hour between 5 and 6 a.m. when I usually blog.

Therefore, I will regularly be posting something called I’m Walking; it means, no time for blogging. But I won’t leave you folks TOTALLY bereft and will post a music video or two, at least initially about walking.

I’m Walkin – Fats Domino, a #4 hit in 1957, exactly where it charted the same year for Ricky Nelson.
Walking to New Orleans – Fats Domino, a #6 hit in 1960. Domino needed to be rescued in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina in the summer of 2005.


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