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Sunday, March 02, 2014

These Boots Are Made For Walkin'

So, are you enjoying the month of March so far even though we are just a whopping two days into it?  I certainly hope most of you are.  March for me has gotten off to a rough start, but just because it came in like a lion means that feasibly, it should go out like a lamb.

That's what the old wives tale states.  And, I have to say...sometimes old wives get it right!

Okay, so a lot is going on today.  If you're into all things film, tonight just happens to be the biggest celebration of all things movies, as the Oscars are going to be airing with Ellen DeGeneres as hostess this year.  I might tune in to watch a little bit of the ceremony, but admittedly I have not seen any of the movies that are nominated for "Best Picture" this year, so really, who would I root for? 

Or, if you're into the idea of watching eleven teams of two...or, rather ten teams of two by around the whole world for the chance to win a million dollars in cash, then you might want to watch "The Amazing Race".  A show where "twinnies" doesn't get you anywhere, where guys happily call themselves "Afghan-imals", and where Rachel and Brendon from "Big Brother" continue to squeeze out the last little droplets of their already overfilled fifteen minutes of fame. 

Or, if you really want to have some fun, why don't you take a few minutes to read all about today's Sunday Jukebox entry?  I can't guarantee you that this song ever won an Academy Award, but I do know for a fact that it has been used in the soundtracks of a few films.

And it's a song that is perfect for those people who have felt scorned by their lovers, spouses, and even one-night stands!  Believe me, it's that perfect.

Now, I'll just preface this blog entry by stating that all this year, I will be featuring songs that were once #1 hits.  And, this song was the #1 hit forty-eight years ago this week.  But then again, I suppose that our featured singer grew up surrounded by music.  After all, her father was considered to be one of the most respected crooners of his generation.

So, shall we find out who today's spotlight artist is?  Let's check it out!

ARTIST:  Nancy Sinatra
SONG:  These Boots Are Made For Walkin'
ALBUM:  Boots
DATE RELEASED:  February 22, 1966

That's right.  We're going to be taking a look back at Nancy Sinatra's biggest hit, "These Boots Are Made For Walkin'", a #1 hit for the singer in 1966, and a song that has been played by scorned lovers everywhere for nearly five decades.

I mean, just think about it.  This is the anthem of empowerment for anybody who has ever been treated badly by someone who is supposed to care about them.  This is the song for those who are tired of being kicked around, and for those who want to do the kicking themselves. 

"One of these days, these boots are gonna walk all over you".  Sends tingles down your spine, huh?  Well, there's that, plus the fact that all the women in the music video are so busy dancing around the stage that none of them realized that they forgot to put on pants.

(Apparently, the sweaters - known as maxi-sweaters - were all the rage in '66.  And, according to a couple of sources, the girls were wearing mini-skirts.)

Anyway, you all know the story of Nancy Sinatra.  She is the oldest of three children born to legendary singer/actor Frank Sinatra - himself, one of the most respected and talented artists to be a member of the "Rat Pack" in the 1950s.  But did you know that when Nancy was first thinking about following in her father's footsteps into the world of Hollywood that she didn't intend to become a singer?  Instead, she wanted to pursue an acting career.  While she did appear in a couple of films during the 1960s, including the Elvis Presley film "Speedway", her acting and singing aspirations certainly didn't garner her much success - at least in North America anyway.

You see, Nancy Sinatra initially fell into the same curse that Alyssa Milano and Jennifer Love Hewitt experienced when both actresses tried their hand at singing careers.  Insanely popular in Japan, but fell flat in their native America.  But, Nancy refused to give up on herself.  After all, her father had released dozens of hit singles over the years.  There was no way that she was going to rest until she had at least one success story.

So, when Nancy Sinatra was given the opportunity to record a song written by Lee Hazelwood entitled "These Boots Are Made For Walkin'", she jumped on the chance without any hesitation.

At the time that Nancy recorded the song, she was twenty-five years old, but when she was recording the single, she was given some rather...unusual direction from Hazelwood himself when it came down to how he thought the song should sound.

Hazelwood believed that Sinatra should sing the song as if she were a "sixteen-year-old girl who f@#$s truck drivers".  Interesting description.  I'm not exactly sure what a teenager who prostitutes herself to big rig drivers sounds like, but I'm guessing that Nancy must have come pretty close to what Hazelwood was looking for as the single was released in early 1966.  The song became a near-instant success story, with the song hitting #1 not long after its initial release date in the United States and several other countries as well.

And, the song was also a favourite of critics as well, with critic Tom Breihan described it as "maybe the finest bitchy kiss-off in pop history".

Surprisingly enough, the song was also used as a sort of unofficial anthem of the Vietnam War.  The song was often played in the background of news clips of United States infantry men on the news.  Nancy Sinatra herself actually flew down to Vietnam to perform this song for the troops stationed there, and many soldiers adopted the song as their anthem.

And, a little over twenty years after the song was released, Nancy Sinatra guest starred on the television series "China Beach" (a series that was set during the height of the Vietnam War) to re-enact one of the many performances of the song she did while performing for the troops all those years ago!

And, I should also mention that this single has been covered by many other artists over the years from Megadeth to former Spice Girl Geri Halliwell, proving that the song definitely had staying power long after the original release.  However, not everyone's cover version of "These Boots Are Made For Walkin' was received positively.

For instance, when Jessica Simpson re-recorded the single for the 2005 film "The Dukes of Hazzard", the video was subjected to a lot of controversy.  Directed by Brett Ratner, many critics complained that the video was too sexual with Jessica actively posing and gyrating in a suggestive manner while wearing skimpy Daisy Duke shorts (which I suppose made sense, as Jessica Simpson was cast as Daisy Duke).  Unfortunately, the film was a complete joke, and as much as I can tolerate some Jessica Simpson songs, this video only served to prove that Simpson was no Catherine Bach.  I'm not usually a fan of cover songs to begin with, but this version was almost a train-wreck.  The only other cover versions that I hated more were Madonna's "American Pie" and Tiffany's horrific interpretation of The Beatles' hit "I Saw Her Standing There".

I guess it's true what they say.  You can change the formula of something all you want...but nothing beats the original.

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