Over the decades many songwriters have written and recorded songs about shoes. As metaphors for the human condition they provide a perfect poetic vehicle for song writers. Many shoe songs became chart successes with some even topping the best sellers. The following is a chronological list of popular songs with shoe(s) in the title that made the top twenty best sellers around the world.
“Chattanoogie Shoe Shine Boy" was written by Harry Stone and Jack Stapp and published in 1950. There were many versions of the song but the most successful was recorded by Red Foley and reached Number One in the US charts in 1950. Both Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra released versions of the Chattanoogie Shoe Shine Boy.
Arguably the best known song about shoes must be 'Blue Suede Shoes' written by Carl Perkins and performed by Elvis Presley. The idea for the song came when Carl Perkins and Johnny Cash were queuing in a canteen. Someone in front cried a warning not to tread on his foot. 'Hey don't step on my blue suede shoes’. Cash was moved to say to his companion that would be a good title for a song. Later, when Perkins was playing in a dance hall he noticed one of the dancers gesticulating to his partner not to stand on his feet. The following morning he woke up with the song lyrics in his head. Unfortunately a road accident prevented Carl Perkins from performing his version and meantime because Elvis needed a quick follow-up to Heartbreak Hotel, ‘Blue Suede Shoes' went straight to the top of the US charts and became a worldwide hit in 1956. The song referred to suede oxfords worn by middle class kids in the US. The vast majority of teenagers in the UK and elsewhere thought the song referenced to ‘brothel creeper,’ a course suede shoe with thick crepe soles worn by teenage delinquents in the 50s.
By the late fifties the anger was taken out of the first wave of the rock generation and conservative Tin Pan Alley again produced novelty records to the eager masses. "Tan shoes with pink shoe laces" was one such effort and many early rockers became enveloped into the silly season of pop.
Tommy Tucker wrote and recoded Hi Heel Sneakers in 1964. The twelve bar blues topped the R&B charts and became a top ten cross over hit in the US. The song proved very popular among the emerging UK Beat groups and has been recorded by over 200 artists, including John Lee Hooker, Paul McCartney and Janis Joplin.
A track on the 1964 album ‘The Times They Are A-Changin' by Bob Dylan was ‘Boots of Spanish Leather.’ The ballad, some say was about the singer’s love affair with Suze Rotolo and tells the tale of two lovers, a crossroads, and the open sea. Suze left Bob Dylan for Spain prior to the album release.
The Drifters with Johnny Moore had a chard success with I’ve got sand in my shoes in 1964.
Country singer Lee Hazelwood wrote ‘These Boots are made for walking’ which was an enormous worldwide hit for Nancy Sinatra in 1966. The song was recorded in LA and included the session musicians called the Wrecking Crew (a permanent feature on Phil Spectre Wall of Sound recordings). When the single was first released, some thought it had to do with the 1966 subway strike in New York but the lyrics relate to a sixteen year old girl giving the brush off to a forty year old man. Many cover versions have subsequently been recorded by a myriad of artists and in a range of styles including: metal, pop, rock, punk rock, country, dance, and industrial.
Dave Mason wrote "Hole in My Shoe" which was hit for his group Traffic in 1967. Considered to be a defining track of the acid rock genre, lead singer, Steve Winwood disliked the song and thought it did not represent the band's real musical or lyrical style. In 1984, a cover version by Nigel Planer (Neil in The BBC comedy, The Young Ones) also was a top ten hit in the UK.
The Beatles recorded ‘Old Brown’ Shoe written by George Harrison and released as the B-side to the Ballad of John and Yoko in 1969. The song was about the balanced opposites, a theme previously explored in the Lennon McCartney composition, Hello Goodbye.
In 1979 The Eagles released The Long Run which included the track ‘Those shoes.’ The song tells a tale about men who take advantage of lonely single women. The predatory role is triggered by her high heeled shoes with "pretty little straps around your ankles."
Black Sabbath recorded ‘Fairies wear boots’ in 1970 and it appears on their best selling Paranoid album. Legend has it inspiration for the song came when Terry ‘Geezer’ Butler and Ozzy Osbourne (lead singer) saw fairies in the park, running around wearing boots. They composed the song which includes an instrumental at the beginning called "Jack the Stripper". There are several versions of "Fairies Wear Boots."
Kevin Ayers released the single "Stranger In Blue Suede Shoes" in 1971. The song came from the bestselling album Whatevershebringswesing.
"Shoes" is a 1975 single by Reparata (previously of Reparata and the Delrons) and was her only solo chart hit. Shoes, was a bizarre wedding song and the lyric tells the story of Johnny and Louise's wedding day, and the contributions of various relatives and friends to the wedding. The song is not about shoes, although it does include the line "Mother didn't give her abuse / she didn't forget her shoes". The singers deep vocal lend to the ambiguity of the singer's gender which adds to the strange mood of the record.
Steely Dan’s ‘Bad Sneakers’ was a track on their Katy Lied album (1975). It was produced by Gary Katz who later regretted not releasing is as a single. It features Michael McDonald's vocals and a Walter Becker solo. Despite general displeasure from Donald Fagin and Becker regarding the quality of sound the album sold well and reached Top Twenty Albums in the US.
Boogie Shoes was a disco hit for KC and the Sunshine Band in 1978 after it appeared on the soundtrack for the movie Saturday Night Fever. Despite only reaching the top forty best selling singles the movie soundtrack album reached number one across the globe. Boogie shoes has become a disco era staple.
In 1982 Goody Two-Shoes by Adam Ant (written by Adam Ant and Marco Pirroni) topped the charts in the UK and Australia. It was the singer last chart success and detailed the frustration and hypocrisy of living in the glare of the paparazzi.
Furniture’s "Love Your Shoes" in 1984 had great potential to become a bestselling single but due to a financial crisis at their record company Stiff Records demand for the vinyl could not be met. Instead it sold as part of the album The Wrong People. Since its break-up, the band has retained a certain cult appeal.
Run DMC had a major hit with the rap, My Adidas in 1986. The song was written by Joseph "DJ Run" Simmons and Darryl "DMC" McDaniels and made it to the top ten in the US.
Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes was collaboration Paul Simon and Joseph Shabalala. It appeared on the bestselling album Gracelands in 1986. The song relates to a short relationship Paul Simon had with a diamond mine owner's daughter, while recording in South Africa. Backing vocals are from the South African choral group Ladysmith Black Mambazo.
Kinky Boots was recorded by Patrick McNee and Honor Blackman (stars The Avengers) and the song was commissioned by Ned Sherrin for BBC’s That was the week that was. Despite a flurry of interest the single did not chart but when it was released 27 years later it peaked at Number Five in 1990.
David “Diamond Dave” Lee Roth (lead singer of Van Halen) had a minor Canadian hit with "Sensible Shoes" 1991.
Walking in my Shoes by Depeche Mode was released in 1993 and became a Top 20 hit in the UK. There are two versions (mixes) of the song.
The Red Shoes was written and recorded by Kate Bush in 1994 and reached Number 21in the UK charts. The song is about a girl who puts on a pair of enchanted ballet slippers and can't stop dancing until she breaks the spell.
Jimmy Nail had a hit single with Crocodile Shoes in 1994. The song was a theme tune for a drama with the same name starring Jimmy Nail.
Air Force Ones was written and performed by Nelly and became a hit in 2002. The song is about Nelly and the St. Lunatics buying Nike Air Force Ones.
Fuck Me Pumps was released in 2003 by Amy Winehouse. The song was written by Winehouse and Salaam Remi, and it reached the top 100 in the UK Singles Chart. The lyrics relate to stereotypical "gold-digging" girls. The term "fuck-me pumps" is a slang expression for sexy women's shoes, particularly those featuring bare heels.
Dido’s Sand in my shoes (2004) scored high in the charts around the world.
You Are The Generation That Bought More Shoes And You Get What You Deserve by Johnny Boy reached #50 in the UK Singles Chart in 2004.
Spanish band, El Canto del Loco (The Song of the Madman) or ECDL had a hit with 'Zapatillas' (Sneakers) in 2005.
Australian fusion band The Cat Empire released Two Shoes in 2005. The album of the same name was recorded in Havana, Cuba and went straight to number on the Australian album charts. The single peaked at #49 in the Australian singles chart.
Shania Twain’s Shoes (2005) was written and recorded for the ABC television program Desperate Housewives. The song did fairly well on the charts considering there was no promotion by the label or the singer.
Franz Ferdinand took Eleanor put your Boots into the top thirty singles chart in 2006.
‘New Shoes’ was released by Paolo Nutini in 2007 and made the UK and US Singles Charts. The song was used for a 2007 international ad campaign by Puma AG.