“These Boots Are Made for Walkin” is an iconic song. Nancy Sinatra made it famous in the mid-60s. At the same time, the song revitalized her career. A variety of artists from Megadeth to Jessica Simpson have since covered it. If not for Nancy, Lee Hazlewood would have recorded it and it probably would have flopped.
There is a good chance that “These Boots Are Made for Walkin” would have faded into obscurity if not for Nancy Sinatra. The song demands strong feminine energy and she definitely gave it that. The song walks the line between poppy and psychedelic. That sound combined with Nancy’s voice and the strong lyrics made this tune the hit that it was and continues to be.
How Nancy Sinatra Saved Her Now-Iconic Hit
How Nancy Sinatra ended up singing the song and making it a hit is kind of simple. She was up-front and honest with her producer, Lee Hazlewood. Before we get to that moment of bluntness that changed her career forever, we should look at how she ended up with Hazlewood in the first place.
Nancy Sinatra discussed how she ended up with Hazlewood in a recent interview with Rolling Stone. Before stepping into psychedelic pop, Sinatra did what she calls her “Nancy Nice Lady” records. They were pop recordings and sold well enough to keep her on the label. When her albums stopped selling, the label decided to change her sound instead of dropping her.
The label put her in the hands of Lee Hazlewood. They worked well together. At some point, he played “These Boots Are Made for Walkin” for her and said that he planned to cut it. On this, Nancy Sinatra said, “I just told him the truth: that I didn’t think it was good for a man to sing it, that it sounded kind of ugly, and that a girl should sing it and it would be better. And he realized I was right.”
With that bold statement, Hazlewood passed the song to Sinatra and the rest is history.
Sinatra Wasn’t Wrong
Nancy Sinatra was absolutely right. Currently, when someone covers the song it’s just kind of fun. However, before it was an iconic part of the American pop songbook, a man singing it would have sounded wrong. Think about it. “These boots are made for walkin’/ That’s just what they’ll do./ One of these days, these boots are gonna walk all over you,” just wouldn’t hit the same coming from a masculine place.
It sounds empowering coming from a woman. She is standing up to a man who is treating her wrong. instead of sounding sullen, Nancy Sinatra makes the song an anthem. She was the right person for that song. We can all be thankful that Hazlewood agreed with her.