Every #1 Country Single of the Nineties: Tanya Tucker, “Walking Shoes”

“Walking Shoes”

Tanya Tucker

Written by Paul Kennerley

Radio & Records

#1 (1 week)

May 25, 1990

Tanya Tucker’s second No. 1 single of 1990 previewed her first studio album of the decade.

The Road to No. 1

Since signing with Capitol, Tucker had become one of country’s most consistent hitmakers.  Her Greatest Hits album for the label produced the No. 1 single, “My Arms Stay Open All Night,” which topped the Radio & Records chart earlier in the year.  Tucker followed this project with Tennessee Woman, which set Tucker on course for her first “second” Greatest Hits album for the same label.

The No. 1

“Walking Shoes” follows the Tucker template of a heartbreak song from that time in her career.  She’s been walked all over, and she’s walking out.

The central conceit doesn’t get stretched too thin, as each verse introduces a new item of clothing: her walking shoes, her traveling hat, and my personal favorite: her “It’s all over” coat.

As someone who was introuced to Tucker on her next studio album, I do miss the muscle in the production that would give an added oomph to her 1991-1993 material.

A stronger backing track might have coaxed a more energetic vocal performance from her.  But it gets the job done as an uptempo radio track to set the stage for a new studio album.

The Road From No. 1

Tennessee Woman produced three more hits, starting with “Don’t Go Out,” a slamming duet with T. Graham Brown.  Along with its follow-up, “It Won’t Be Me,” it reached the top ten.   The gorgeous ballad, “Oh What it Did to Me,” closed out the album cycle, falling short of its predecessors.  One might assume that Tucker would be one of those legends to get washed away by the new wave of nineties artists, but she stepped up her game, so we’ll see her again in 1991.

“Walking Shoes” gets a B. 

Every No. 1 Single of the Nineties

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  1. This was a fun single that harkens back to some older styles of music such as vaudeville, English Music Hall [Max Bygraves, anyone] and acoustic string band, with a somewhat more pronounced beat. While not necessarily a classic, it was substantially different from other music airing at the time and holds up well.

  2. While not necessarily one of my top favorites from Tanya, it’s still a very fun and enjoyable song. I especially love the guitar work on this one. I always found this one to be similar to 1992’s “If Your Heart Ain’t Busy Tonight,” except the latter song has that more muscular production that Kevin mentions. And yes, this is another one I actually remember hearing on the radio when it was new.

    My favorite singles from this album are “Don’t Go Out” and “It Won’t Be Me.” Speaking of T. Graham Brown, it’s too bad he was another casualty of the early 90’s country boom. On the other hand, I’m so glad Tanya was able to keep going strong for the first half of the decade, at least.

  3. The success of this song was more evidence of the musical momentum a resurgent Tanya Tucker was developing. It’s hard for me to evaluate this song independent of the context of what Tucker’s renaissance meant to country music, specifically for country’s emerging female artists.

    I am with Leaann. The production is completely fun and charming. The song feels appropriately comfortable and confident given its title. It just sounded so good on country radio at the time, and as Paul Dennis pointed out it still holds up well today.

    An irresistible and alluring song!

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